Fishing in Dorset


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The Dorset coast offers some excellent locations for both shore and boat angling.  For shore fishing there are over 50 beaches to choose from, including the famous Chesil beach, which is over 17 miles (28 km) long. The harbours offer charter boats and trips to take you offshore.  With excellent water quality and a large range of fish, angling along the Dorset coast is hugely popular and is host to many competitions.

Take notice of warning signs along the coast. Stay well away from cliffs and mudflows at all times and beware of quicksand.

What do I need?

When is the best time to do it?

Fishing in Dorset is great all year round because fish species change throughout the year, so your angling experiences can be different in each season. Always check the weather and tides if you are going to a place where you may be cut off. During winter months the water is colder, winds stronger, there are rougher seas and less hours of daylight – this all needs to be taken into consideration. iCoast has a great weather forecast and links to webcams along the Dorset coast, which makes it easy for you see when and where you will get the best conditions to go out angling.


Planning your trip

Follow the Shore anglers code of conduct and Dorset Wildlife Trust responsible sea angling campaign.

Watch out for wildlife

  • Return all undersize fish– The EU has set out a minimum landing size for each fish and shellfish species to ensure sustainable future stocks. To find out what the minimum landing sizes are please download the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities guideand take it with you when you are out angling.
  • Practice catch and release– When angling you should only ever take what you personally need. To put fish back with little damage they need to be out of the water for the minimum amount of time possible and they need to be handled correctly by:
    • Releasing the fish while it is still in the water if possible.
    • Using a net if you have to pull the fish out of the water to unhook it.
    • Only handling the fish if you have wet hands.
    • Not holding a fish under the gills if you are going to return it.
    • Using barbless fish if you want to return all the fish you catch.  
  • Think about whether you are going through or landing at any areas that are important for wildlife.

The Dorset coast has many areas that are important for wildlife and birds.  These areas have restrictions at certain times of the year to help to protect the wildlife.  On iCoast please turn on the restricted areas icon to show these areas when planning your activity. 

  • Always take care with local wildlife and plants.
  • Report live strandings of cetaceans, and injured/entangled marine mammals to British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) on 01825 765546 (24 hours). Report all other live injured or entangled animals to RSPCA 0300 1234 999.
  • The bait collection code:
  • Follow the Angling Trust recommended voluntary code of conduct for bait digging.
  • Take home all your rubbish – discard rubbish found in the sea or on beaches. Find out more about Marine litter in Dorset.
  • Do not discard angling line and tackle as it can:
  • Remain in our waters for around 600 years (it take a very long time for monofilament fishing line to break down in the sea).
  • Be a hazard to scuba divers who can become entangled and drown.
  • Be a hazard to boaters as the fishing line gets entangled in propellers.
  • Become entangled in marine life such as seabirds, crabs and seafans.
Reduce line and tackle loss by:
  • Setting up your rig so that snagged weight will be discarded when pressure is applied via the main line.
  • Dispose of old line by either taking it home or if possible putting into a SeaClean Fishing line bin . The SeaClean Fishing line bins are monitored and emptied by volunteers and the fishing line is recycled. Dorset is one of the only places in the world to have SeaClean bins. 
Watch out for other users
  • Share the water – Swimmers, jet skiers, commercial fishermen, walkers etc. all use the water and beaches as well as sea and shore anglers. It is important to be observant, careful and respectful when you are angling.
  • Share the beach –When shore angling, leave plenty at least 15 metres between you and the next shore angler.

For the full MCA guidance on distress signals and prevention of collision the read:

  • Think about where you are landing– If you are planning to land on an area that is private property you will need the permission of the owner


  • If you are taking out your own boat to go angling then:
  • Plan the route of your angling trip– using the iCoast map and admiralty charts, then you can ensure that you won’t end up in any busy shipping lanes and you can avoid any known navigational hazards and any sensitive or restricted areas. You can buy Admiralty charts from most chandleries in Dorset, find out where the closest chandlery to you is using the iCoast map.

Staying safe

  • Always tell somebody responsible where you are going and when you will be back. They will be able to raise the alarm by calling 999 and asking for the Coastguard if they get worried and you are not back on time.
  • Avoid angling alone, there will be no one to help you in an emergency.
  • If you are out shore/sea angling at night then always take more than one light.
  • Check your equipment for damage before use.
  • If out at sea carry equipment so you can call for help such as a VHF radio and flares.
  • Check the weather and tides and be aware of local hazards – Learn to interpret tide tables and weather forecasts.
  • Be extra careful if you’re wearing waders – if they should fill with water then lie on your back with feet together and paddle with your hands to the shore.
  • Be sun smart
    • Always wear SPF factor 30 and above waterproof sun cream. Reapply frequently
    • Drink plenty of fluids as you dehydrate faster while exercising
    • Consider taking a rest and seeking shade during the hottest part of the day

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