We travelled over to the island in a very small 'island hopper' type plane, flying from Eastleigh airport. The good aspect is it's a quick flight but you are limited to the amount of weight you can carry and unless you hire a car you walk everywhere. It's also daunting seeing the island as a rock from the air and then flying over the wrecked plane at the end of the runway!

The first trip was in July of 1990 and whilst the fishing was pretty good we were told it was much better later in the year. For our next trip, and as it happened, all subsequent trips we decided to go in October and whilst the weather was a lot worse the fishing made up for it. Because of the plane limiting what we could take we settled on a pair of beachasters each, an uptide rod and an avon and a light carp rod. We took enough reels to cater for everything so a large multiplier for the conger, standard beach reels and a pair of light reels loaded with 6 and 8lb line for the mullet. Plus of course a rod rest each and you can see it all adds up, so much so that we were often forced to pay an excess fee on the way out.

The first couple of times we dug our own bait, initially lug but we then switched to verm (a kind of rock rag). This was hard to obtain and meant we had to get out at low tide to gather sufficient bait for the day and night. At that stage we were also walking everywhere and so we were wasting a lot of time and energy. It was getting to the stage where we were too knackered to fish so we decided for all future trips to hire a car - bliss!

Before I describe some of the fishing marks around the island I'll mention some of the fish that can be caught from around it's shores. Because there are rocks and sandy patches you find a large variety of species in close proximity. So what can you expect ? Conger to over 50lb, pollack, bass, rays, sole, plaice, bream, mullet, garfish, wrasse, tope, cod and probably a few others I've forgotten. The island has held the UK record for mullet, plaice and sole and been very close with bream and blonde rays so you can see why we started to visit the place.

Walking around the island in an anti-clockwise direction the best place to start from is the most obvious mark on the island, the breakwater. This is about 2/3 of a mile long and most species of fish can be caught from it. Whilst there are big eels taken from the breakwater they are less common than from other rocky marks. We have mainly caught pollack by float fishing with fish strips towards the very end of the breakwater over high water with many fish going over 3lb's. These offer good sport on light tackle and are usually prolific enough to provide fairly hectic action. We have never had much else except the odd plaice off the sandy patches but larger plaice and sole have been taken by others. The breakwater has to be treated carefully as whilst it does a great job of keeping the rough water out of the harbour, large waves can wash over it's 30ft height in rough weather. We have been caught a couple of times and had to make a run for it, hoping not to get caught by a large wave.

Around crabby bay is fort doyle where the sewage outfall is discharged, so wash your hands after fishing here ! Mullet and garfish are taken from this prolific mark float fishing tiny strips of meat on light freshwater tackle using groundbait. The locals use shirvy which is minced meat offal and as it is used a lot it's worth getting hold of. We have always managed to buy it from one of the local butchers as thankfully he is also a keen angler and makes it himself.

The sandy bay is best fished by casting to the right and not straight out and we have seen plaice over 5lb caught from here (although we have only ever caught smaller samples). The bay also throws up large sole whilst platte saline, to the west, has produced some large golden mullet for those who know the right spots on the beach. Past platte saline and round the western end of the island are some marks where we have rarely fished and not caught much. As you come level with the runway there is a very precarious rock mark known as the slides - for obvious reasons. This is better (and safer) over low water and has thrown up massive eels and double figure mullet amongst other things. This mark isn't for the faint hearted and I don't mind admitting I hate the place. We fished it a few times but I always looked for excuses not to go there - like I've just filled my pants! Further round is the old pier and then we come the first of the rock marks where you have to descend a rope to get to the fishing spot. This is the volta and is one of our favorite marks, probably because we found it on our first trip and it has always fished moderately well. We have had plaice, pollack, wrasse and garfish from here but bass and rays are also taken. The next good mark is the impot. The is reached via the rubbish dump on the island and involves a longer rope descent than the volta which is about 40ft. This mark is excellent for large eels at night and one night when we fished it with some others we had about 5 eels up to 42lb - big fish not to us though ! There are also large pollack to be taken from here but tackle losses can be a bit of a problem. We found the best solution to use a rock in a bit of old stocking as the weight and then it didn't matter if you lost it. The other plus is you don't have to carry loads of lead weights up and down the rock face.

Further around the island we come to some rocks known as the frying pan at the western end of longis bay (where bait can be dug). From here plaice and bream can be taken as well as wrasse. The bream are extremely localised and you have to be in exactly the right spot if you want to catch any. We spent a frustrating couple of days at the end of one trip being beaten to the spot by a local who bagged up whilst we struggled to catch anything. Looking out from the frying pan you see the island of raz which is only accessible at low water. This rock island has a massive tidal race just off shore and large bass and rays can be taken from the right spots. We only managed wrasse and the odd pollack as we have so far failed to find the best spots (or just been unlucky).

Around the eastern end of the island is the lighthouse and a number of other rocky marks, most of which we haven't done too well from - yet. Another of our favourite marks is roselle point which faces the inside of the breakwater. We have had plaice from here but there are also large eels and loads of wrasse if you fish close to the rocks. There are many marks I haven't described but the local tackle shop has a map of the various marks and can give you a bit of up to date information. For us part of the fun is fishing new spots and learning more about the place, which we always do.

Recently we have taken to going over to the island for 4 or 5 days with a skipper out from Hayling island and will be back again in July this year.

From the boat we concentrated on the bass and turbot and whilst it was variable we managed 27 bass to 8lb on our best day. This year we hope to target many more different species including the big eels and pollack living near the rocky shoreline and outcrops. If all goes well you may well read the follow up later this year.

Rob Stubbs