BRIGHTON MARINA FISHING for the East and West breakwaters

BRIGHTON MARINA FISHING for the East and West breakwaters

Another Monday

Well the weekend has passed and I can hardly believe we are at the end of February already. While cold the fishing front has felt like mid to end of March.
The beach camp city has become a regular feature as Sussex draws paice anglers from near and far, this year almost a month early.
I can remember putting up blog posts about once a fortnight in Jan, Feb, simply to let anglers know we were still here but yes the walls were still closed as the weather has hampered jetwashing but it was ok as there were v few fish other than whiting and occasional congers about.
Robin Howard introduced squid fishing to the marina and that meant starting a bit earlier jet washing as a priority so that the walls got re opened earlier in the year and with the increase of anglers came the realisation that early march could produce some plaice. Granted back then often the quality was fairly poor so they didnt attract much attention, but, as they (whoever “they” are) say, things change. I guess the main thing changing is the sea temp in definately Sussex waters or simply no one had realised quite how the plaice population had developed off the marina.

I will have a guess other than what most would say was obvious global warming so here goes.
Pre marina days I understand there were some extremely good mussel beds in and west of the marina so with that good plaice numbers and frequent visits from the inshore cod runs.
With all the building for the marina there would have been long term damage to the environment as a whole and many species spooked from the area for quite a while. I have seen but cant refrence or link the info that the marina also changed the currents from Newhaven to past worthing, which may seem incredible and unlikely for some but changes did happen.

The codling runs rarely touch the marina these days and the larger cod catches off the walls in early days slowly petered out to near nothing. The plaice it was reconed all but vanished over the demolished mussel beds and bream started nesing further out also.

I guess these changes also meant that there was little to no fry in the shore lines of Brighton to attract much in the way of resident species and a lot of the fishing started to change. I am aware of some great catches in the past that have also tailed off possibly under the banner of species being over fished and in the last 20 years have noted a general change in species that were numerous and low clearly in current decline. (for that I have little answer other than reducing what is kept commercially and recreationally but most of all the methods used and the reduction of size and/or numbers of huge factory ships with little to no secection in their nets.
Back to the marina.
The plaice would have taken time to recover the massive change that came with the building and likewise bream also but both are hardy species and recover they did but plaice I suspect to a lesser amount with the reduction of the mussel beds of the past.
The marina is a great place towatch change in the catch rates of species and there are always highs and lows in catch rates sometimes year by year. The plaice and bream especially did recover, perhaps the bream faster as they quickly re-populated the inshore rocky marks that Brighton has a plentiful supply of. Possibly a peak in numbers aboutt 15 years ago which was when I sort of noticed the high pair trawler activity that was turning local seabeds into sand only seserts and it seems last year was the poorest for bream ive known, with luck the change in trawer laws will redress that as conservation ideas increase. The plaice i feel took longer to recover and often didnt start in Brighton until mid to late April (yes im finnally getting back to the plaice fishing) but with the increase of numbers wanting access to the walls they were got ready earlier in the year after the winter storms did their worst to smash the fixtures and cover both in inch thick algea.

The squid comp indirectly brough about the realisation that the plaice were not only improving in quality along the east wall but also earlier than most were catching them on the beaches.
For a change things were happening earlier on the wall than they were on the beaches resulting in the wall being got ready earlier and earlier rather than a week or 2 prior to easter. The hunt for early squid brought squiiders with a 2nd rod out with bait rather than a jig or lure and it was noticed that the plaice were there often a week or 2 before the beach caught plaice and people were getting plaice mid March ! the pattern formed over the next few years of an earlier arrival again than the previous year and while people were “trying for them as early as feb if they could get on the walls the general pattern was 2-3 days earlier than the year b4 on the east that I was monitoring. This trend has continued and we are now seeing plaice being caught mid FEB in regular numbers, granted the sizes are very haphazard if looking for the larger ones and the normal sizes at the moment are about 30-35cm, many would say legal length although I would question some of those takes that often are very skinny and would be better returned to fatten up. That said there have been some nice fish of 50cm also caught so the rewards are out there.
Other than the plaice story be it made up/guess work etc that is just my opinion and belief and may even be way off the mark so please dont assume im the expert on all things fishing.

So whats going on?, as many know we are having a bumper Februally where herring are concerned with conditions falling just right as the early arrivals starting and those conditions held with the added bonus of the wind direction swinging northerly clearing the waters inshore probably more than normal. as a result the numbers increased as they started to shoal and im guessing starting to “get it on” in the shallower waters resulting in an extended period of fine weather and great herring fishing . Normally the patern would be 20 mins of jigging for them just prior to the high tide and then they would be gone. Blink and you miss them if you were not in the right place right time thing. This year mostly they are prior to the high but how long before has increased and some days have the have started being caught 2 hrs after the low and continued for an hour after the high water so I would say, unusual and the best year for herring i have possibly seen on the marina.
Thus we have had tons of herring caught, 99% of them on east, next to no one trying for them on the west.
The west has had a visit over the week of an over weight large seal no doubt doing its best to eat anything that moves. High on the east a fish was caught that has divided opinion between a sand goby or a common dragonette, I am going on the Dragonette side but may be wrong anyway but hey its all a learning curve ! Bits and bobs other than those mentioned have been the occasional guilthead from the beach and one high on the east(yes another species a bit earlier than the usual mid March) the rockling seem to have clearded out duringthe daytime but Im told still lurk at night. Night sessions on the beaches are producing conger, bass and some decent sized rays(mostly thornbacks) and the boats are starting to see individual mackerel so they may make the jump to shore somewhen as soon as the 10th March I suspect.

Things are picking up, the east is now fully open and curently closing sometime around 5 to 5.30pm.
I took a trip down the east wall yesterday chatting to various anglers and id say 40+ plaice were caught, the best after 29 , also loads of herring caught, the best pre bay 29 so a day of or a case of 2 halves on the east with things getting chilly about 5pm. The closing time may roll back a bit in a few weeks just prior to Easter but for now will remain at 7am opening and 5ish closing.

I am expecting some news regarding this years squid comp as the group hosting sort out what they wish to do re organising it as LISA wont be hosting it this year.
The general comittee feeling was that it was perhaps too much effort and often grumbles aimed at members about its organisation or timing and some members felt the group would be better focused on other projects.
Thats it for now,

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