It’s a sure sign that sum­mer is well on the way when th­ese sought-after flat­fish make an ap­pear­ance

Sea Angler (UK) - - SEA ANGLER | CONTENTS -

Ex­pe­ri­ence some su­perb beach fish­ing.

Tur­bot are al­ways ea­gerly awaited along the South Coast be­cause they are a great in­di­ca­tor that larger preda­tory fish, such as rays and bass, will soon be fol­low­ing – al­ways good news after a long, harsh win­ter. Th­ese tur­bot nor­mally be­come ac­tive after a slight rise in the wa­ter tem­per­a­ture, which of­ten co­in­cides with shoals of bait fish, such as sandeels, mov­ing close to the shore­line. Other species will be fairly quick to fol­low.

In April I was hear­ing that the first few tur­bot had put in an ap­pear­ance, es­pe­cially in the Selsey area of West Sus­sex. After a long mis­er­able spell of cold and wet weather this was just the en­cour­age­ment I needed to get out and wet my lines. Shore-caught tur­bot may not be known for their fight­ing prow­ess, but they are still a great fish to catch – their colours at times can be amaz­ing.

A few days later, with my buddy Steve Lawrence from Poole, I was head­ing east along the M27 dur­ing mid-af­ter­noon in an at­tempt to beat the dreaded rush-hour traf­fic.

We were head­ing to Al­lan’s Ma­rine Tackle shop in Portsmouth, which had just taken de­liv­ery of a fresh batch of sandeels straight from the West Coun­try – in pre­vi­ous weeks ob­tain­ing any had been like find­ing gold dust. We were also meet­ing Bren­don Moon, a top lo­cal an­gler.

Apart from the sandeels, we took along a few rag­worms (to see if there were any plaice) along with squid, Bluey and mack­erel. Th­ese are all baits that will read­ily take tur­bot, which have ex­cep­tion­ally big mouths for their size, along with an early ray if we were re­ally lucky.

With the bait sorted, we were soon on the road again and head­ing for the Dane­field Road sec­tion to­wards the very southerly tip of Selsey.


Thirty min­utes later we pulled up at the shin­gle beach at Dane­field Road vir­tu­ally at the wa­ter’s edge, fish­ing al­most from the back of our car and not a park­ing me­ter in sight – now that is a rar­ity.

One word of warn­ing, don’t stray off the hard track be­cause the shin­gle gets very soft close to the sea­wall, and cars of­ten get well and truly bogged down.

A cou­ple of lo­cal an­glers had also just ar­rived and were ea­gerly set­ting up their gear just 50 yards to our left. I al­ways like to have a chat

with lo­cal an­glers be­cause they can have a wealth of in­for­ma­tion. It quickly be­came ap­par­ent from Ian Hil­lier, a lo­cal chef who had been out the pre­vi­ous evening, that our ses­sion could be a strug­gle.

Un­de­terred, we were soon ready for the off. Steve was the first to get his lines in the wa­ter – on one rod he was us­ing a size 3/0 Pen­nell pulley rig baited with sandeel and squid, and on the other a three-hook flap­per rig armed with size 2/0 hooks baited with a rag­worm tipped off with squid.

Bren­don was us­ing size 3/0 pulley rigs on both rods, baited with a com­bi­na­tion of sandeel, Bluey and squid. On one rod I set­tled for a size 3/0 pulley baited with a trio of small sandeels that were as fresh as a daisy, and a three-hook flap­per on my sec­ond car­ried rag tipped off with mack­erel.

Cast­ing is not an is­sue along this stretch. We had started fish­ing on the early flood, with a 50-yard lob more than ad­e­quate. A 5oz grip weight is re­quired on an in­ter­me­di­ate tide, but you will have to step up to 5-6oz grip­pers on big­ger tides.


While tur­bot are mainly day­light feed­ers, we were not ini­tially ex­pect­ing much to hap­pen in the bright sun­light, but within 10 min­utes I landed a small bass that had man­aged to snare it­self on a size 3/0 hook. It was quickly re­leased and shot off like a rocket.

A few min­utes later, Ian Hil­lier had his first bite and reeled in a small smooth­hound. Things were look­ing en­cour­ag­ing. As the min­utes ticked by, Steve no­ticed a rum­ble on his rod trip, which de­vel­oped into a proper bite, and a few min­utes later the first tur­bot slid up the beach. It had taken the 3/0 pulley baited with sandeel and squid. After a few quick pic­tures, it was re­leased un­harmed.

My tre­ble sandeel pre­sented on a 3/0 pulley was the next bait to get an en­quiry, ini­tially just a few rum­bles be­fore turn­ing into a more pos­i­tive bite. Soon the evening’s sec­ond tur­bot was at my feet, again a re­ally nicelook­ing fish that again went back.

After my ear­lier doubts, the evening was turn­ing out to be far bet­ter than ex­pected, with Bren­don the next in ac­tion when he landed a small smooth­hound. Un­for­tu­nately, though, the big­ger hounds were still far out in deeper wa­ter. A short while later Steve was land­ing his sec­ond tur­bot, which had taken a large rag­worm bait tipped off with squid pre­sented on a size 2/0 hook. Th­ese tur­bot re­ally do like a de­cent-sized fish bait. They have a huge mouth that will eas­ily swal­low a 3/0 hook with a bait to match.


With the light start­ing to fade, Ian landed his first tur­bot of the evening. It had taken a very large squid/Bluey wrap, show­ing th­ese early flat­ties were cer­tainly hun­gry. With an early shift the fol­low­ing morn­ing he had to throw in the towel, but not be­fore his fish­ing part­ner also landed a tur­bot on a large fish bait shortly af­ter­wards. That brought the tur­bot tally to

five, which for the time of year was more than re­spectable – a rea­son­able evening’s fish­ing.

We stayed on for an hour or so once dark­ness had de­scended, but the rod tips re­mained mo­tion­less.

The tur­bot mis­sion had been very en­joy­able, a great suc­cess, but those elu­sive rays would have to wait un­til the wa­ter tem­per­a­ture rose and they be­came far more ac­tive.

For those head­ing to this area, the sum­mer months could pro­vide a real treat, with plenty of smooth­hounds, in­clud­ing dou­ble­fig­ure fish, along with hefty rays and bass. Dur­ing the late sum­mer, some re­ally nice noc­tur­nal soles can be ex­pected, but heavy weed can prove trou­ble­some, es­pe­cially so after a blow. ■

Bren­don Moon was us­ing size 3/0 pulley rigs on both rods

Steve Lawrence took the first tur­bot of the day

The shin­gle beach at Dane­field Road, Selsey

A tur­bot for lo­cal chef Ian Hil­lier

A Pen­nell rig baited with sandeel

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