The area I have called West Hampshire runs from Highcliffe down to Hurst Castle, further East falls in to the New Forest Page, and any further West the Christchurch page. The area is a fantastic set of different beaches all similar in appearance but offering different challenges and different species. Some of the locations on here really are worth visiting and on there day can fish as well as some fo the more famous Solent marks. The West Hampshire beaches are at their best during the summer months although cod are taken during the winter.


Highcliffe Beach

Highcliffe is most famous for its beautiful castle. This area in fact is a superb fishing location. The long rock groynes here provide perfect ambush points for large bass, and also great casting platforms for the angler. The area is a fairly shallow beach with Christchurch a few miles West and New Milton to the East. The area is very popular with local anglers and large bass are still caught here in fairly good numbers, this a great place to try during the summer months.

Summer Species: Bass, pouting, rays, dogfish, smoothhound, soles, eels and mackerel

Winter Species: Codling, whiting, rockling and pouting

Bait: Ragworms, sandeels, live baits, squid and mackerel

Tactics: During the summer the best way to fish for the large bass is with live sandeels or smelt (large squid baits will also work) fished at very close range to the large rock groynes during the dead of night avoiding making any noise or putting any light on the water. You can also fish at range but are likely to get plagued with dogfish and pouting although you can also expect a good bag of smoothhounds at the right time of year. The winter fishing is fairly slow although a good bag of whiting is always possible. In the spring fish for the rockling or occasional plaice using worm baits on flapper rigs.

Getting there: From Bournemouth head east out past Christchurch on the A35, at the large roundabout go straight over on to Highcliffe Rd, (A337) Take the turning after the speed camera called Whamcliffe Rd, there is a large pay and display car park here and the fishing is at the bottom of a short zigzag.

Local Tackle Shops: Loni’s Angling Centre, 43 Old Milton Road, New Milton, tel: 01425 616323


Hurst Castle, near Lymington

Hurst Castle sits on the end of a long shingle spit that juts out towards the isle of white at the start of the Solent. The area is a tremendous fishing area. Although there is a tremendous tide that runs through the area you stand the chance of catching specimen fish. Close to Lymington and Milford on Sea, the area has easy access and is well signposted. Be prepared for a long walk to get to the end of the spit close to the castle although the groynes at this end are regarded as one of the top areas.

Summer Species: Rockling, dogfish, Pollack, sole and bass

Winter Species: Cod, whiting and rays

Bait: Whole squid, peeler crabs, ragworms and mackerel

Tactics: For the big fish here you have to fish big baits. You will find that there is a lot of weed in the area and picking the right tide is essential. If you do arrive and are struggling to avoid the weed and tide it is always worth fishing the opposite side in to the harbour for small bass, mullet and flounders. I would fish just one rod at the far end of the beach with a large squid or cocktail bait. Fishing at night lessens the need to fish at range and therefore avoid the snags and weed. If you fish the east end of the beach standard shore fishing will work fine.

Getting there: From Milford on Sea follow sings for Keyhaven. Access the car park at Hurst by either taking New Lane or Saltgrass lane. You can park on the road here for free and then make the walk to the fishing areas.

Local Tackle Shops: Loni’s Angling Centre, 43 Old Milton Road, New Milton, tel: 01425 616323

Milford on Sea (Beach)

Milford on Sea is probably most synonymous amongst anglers due to the spit at Hurst Castle, however the beach as Milford also boasts some great shore fishing. The area is easily accessible and can be fished all year round with good results. The area is not a hugely popular fishing location as its more popular neighbours seem to be favoured yet you have a good chance here of catching a really quality fish.

Summer Species: Bass, rays, dogfish, pouting, sole, mackerel and garfish

Winter Species: Codling, whiting, rockling and plaice

Bait: Ragworms, peeler crabs, sandeels, mackerel, bluey and squid

Tactics: Similar tactics seem to work along this stretch of the Hampshire shoreline. I would fish this area with large baits to try and catch the large bass, huss and rays that inhabit the area. Baits such as squid, mackerel and sandeel will account for most of the larger fish on a pulley or paternoster rig with a Pennell set up. Smaller flatfish, pouting, dogfish and pouting can be caught on ragworms. The winter fishing can be decent here with codling and whiting the main stay, use peeler crab or lugworm for the best results.

Getting there: Follow the A337 east following signposts for Lymington. You will see signposts for Milford on Sea follow these to the shore front and then park in one of the pay and display car parks for easiest access.

Local Tackle Shops: Loni’s Angling Centre, 43 Old Milton Road, New Milton, tel: 01425 616323


Barton On Sea

Famous for its coastal erosion and beautiful restaurant (pebble beach) Barton on Sea is also an exceptional shore fishing venue. With easy access and some good size rays commonly caught all year round this is an excellent shore fishing area. The sea bed here is fairly mixed so you can expect a good variety of fish in the area. Barton sits close to a whole host of good shore locations as you really are spoilt for choice along this shoreline.

Summer Species: Bass, sole, rays, mackerel, pouting, plaice and dogfish

Winter Species: Codling, whiting, pouting and rockling

Bait: Sandeels, mackerel, ragworms, peeler crabs and bluey

Tactics: The key at this shore location is to fish with large enough baits to avoid the pouting and dogfish that will otherwise get to it first. The area is most noted for throwing up good size thornbacks each year. Pulley rigs are the order of the day here with size 2/0 or 3/0 maybe even 4/0 Pennell rigs, sandeels seem to be the bait of choice but mackerel can also be a good choice. The flatties can be caught on ragworms or peelers on 2 or 3 hook rigs fished over the cleaner ground that can be found here.

Getting there: From Christchurch take the A337 east towards New Milton. Barton on sea is well signposted to the south of New Milton with a large pay and display car park making access easy.

Local Tackle Shops: Loni’s Angling Centre, 43 Old Milton Road, New Milton, tel: 01425 616323

Avon Beach

Head east out of Mudeford towards Highcliffe and you will arrive at an area of beach called Avon Beach. This area is a great location as it benefits from the tidal flow from the Harbour. With easy access and great views towards the Isle of Wight this is a fantastic fishing location. Predominately a summer fishing location the area can be fished all year round and throws up constant surprises.

Summer Species: Bass, sole, pouting, flounder, eels, mackerel and dogfish

Winter Species: Whiting, rockling, flounder and plaice

Bait: Ragworms, lugworms, peeler crabs and mackerel

Tactics: Take a couple of beach casting rods when fishing Steamer Point. The area can be plagued with weed at certain times of the year, so be sure to speak to local anglers and stores about this. Fish flapper rigs, with a fairly hefty cast often proving to work best here. Use standard fish and worm baits on size 1 or 1/0 hooks and be sure to add beads for the flatfish. At certain times of the year the area can also be plagued with either dogfish or eels, so go expecting one of the two.

Getting there: From Christchurch head out on the bypass towards Lyndhurst New Forrest. At the first large roundabout take the second exit straight ahead. Then at the next roundabout bare right and follow signs for Friars Cliff and Steamer Point. Park in pay and display car park close to the beach.

Local Tackle Shops: Loni’s Angling Centre, 43 Old Milton Road, New Milton, tel: 01425 616323


Hordle Cliffs

Hordle beach is a popular spot for beach goers and for fisherman. The beach huts are often very busy during the summer months and therefore fishing during the daytime fishing is not advisable. The area is less well known to spots such as Barton but on its day Hordle can easily match it. A great spot for anglers of abilities where a long cast is not necessarily advantageous.

Summer Species: Bass, rays, mackerel, sole, dogfish, plaice and smoothhounds

Winter Species: Whiting, flounders, codling and rockling

Bait: Ragworms, lugworms, sandeels, mackerel and peeler crabs

Tactics: The spring sees a good run of rays in the area with sandeel or mackerel on pulley style rigs seeming to be the favoured method. During the summer fish with large squid or mackerel baits close in for the bass and with smaller worm baits at range for most other things. The autumn is a great time for catching good numbers of sole and bass. The sole can be caught very close in on rag or lug. During the winter try lug on standard paternoster or pulley rigs for the whiting and rare codling.

Getting there: Head east from Christchurch towards New Milton. You will pick up signs for Hordle at New Milton. Follow the coast road before turning right to parking and fish where convenient.

Local Tackle Shops: Loni’s Angling Centre, 43 Old Milton Road, New Milton, tel: 01425 616323