A Fishing Day At Chichester: Finding Marks And More

Written by: Isobella Ash

My name is Tom Skipsey and I’m the Orvis Riverkeeper. Throughout my angling career, I have had a lot of chances to meet like-minded anglers, some who have become good friends and great fishing partners. One person, in particular, is Susan Skrupa. We met last year at the saltwater fly fishing festival in Cornwall. Thinking forward to this year’s competition we decided to head over to Chichester for a day of fishing and finding decent marks. We started off in one of the harbours aiming to fish all the way up around the bay.  With my weapon of choice in-hand (Helios 3 8 weight) I headed down to the water. 

What To Pack For A Fishing Trip

I don’t like traveling heavy when sea fishing. Just because I am normally wading and sometimes having to cover quite a distance. My essentials in my backpack are along the lines of sun cream, a lightweight coat (in case the weather turns), a 2l bottle of water, some food, polarised glasses, plenty of flies for all scenarios, a few made-up leaders from 12lb -16lb fluorocarbon. When deciding what to pack for a fishing trip, I try to remember that keeping it simple and light enables me to cover a lot of ground without getting tired or having a bad back from carrying stuff. Waders are definitely a must especially when fishing Chichester in my opinion however you must be very careful of quicksand type muddy banks as I have seen videos of anglers getting stuck in them before (if you have one a wading stick would be very handy). 

Starting Off Our Day

Straight away I noticed how muddy the banks were and how careful I was going to have to be when wading. Constantly watching the water level on my waders and retreating every so often as the tide came in I felt very confident. Fishing with a silver/blue sand eel imitation fly, my good mate Hector tied for me, on a slow sink line I thought was going to be a winner. However, one bump of a fish was all I had at this mark and with the water rising drastically we were both running out of space to fish. Time to try again at finding a mark!

After looking on google maps we decided to have lunch and then head over to Hayling Island and fish all around the Oyster beds. A slow walk along the shoreline seemed very positive seeing mullet cruising about and occasionally the odd fish topping out of the water. We stopped and had a chat with another fisherman who seemed to know the area very well and pointed us in the right direction where he had apparently caught an 8lb Bass from earlier that week. The further we walked out to the mark the more the wind picked up. It was a very hot day however, with a bit of cloud cover forming and with the chills in the wind picking up it soon cooled down. It turned out to be one of those cast and duck situations. Fishing into the bay required a hard backcast to cut through the wind and then a not so hard forward cast making sure to duck so you didn’t get hit by a rogue hook. You could cast to the backing with ease. 

Techniques And Flies

When I am fishing with sand eel imitation fly, I often think about the speed of the retrieve. Near enough every bass I have caught has been from slow to medium retrieve speeds. The most popular I have found is strip, strip, strip, stop. However, every angler has their own techniques which work for them. After having another take that came to nothing a change in flies was needed. Something with a shorter tail as I figured the fish were being very touchy and only grabbing the tail end of the fly. Putting the same fly on but with a shorter tail proved to be the right choice near enough straight away. 6 casts and I was in! Probably the smallest bass I had ever seen, probably as small as 5 inches. Not bothering to photograph it I slipped it back and it sped off into the deep. 

About 50 minutes went by with not another touch. I was glad I remembered to pack flies for all types of scenarios when deciding what to pack for a fishing trip as I must have changed a few flies and walked a good 150 yards up the bank. The tide was on its way out, but we did not think it would go out as quickly as it did. With it getting late on in the afternoon we decided a slow walk back to the car and a drive round before we went to have a look at a few more marks we could return to when fishing Chichester would be the best idea. 

Getting Ready For The Next Fishing Trip

I love looking (not fishing) at marks when the tide is out as it gives you a great idea of what lies beneath the water surface when you are fishing it at another point. I always say homework is key to a lot of sea fishing, finding marks, discovering what is best to fish them in the tide. Also seeing underwater snags and features, places which will hold fish, etc. I always have a fishing diary I write in at the end of every day with all the information I have discovered on the place etc. Just in case I want to return at a later date, I would save time finding a mark and have a much better chance when fishing.  

I am looking forward to this year’s saltwater fly fishing festival and meeting up with old friends and hopefully making a few new ones. 

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