Thames Estuary

Thames Estuary
Thames Estuary © Barney

There is a huge range of sea fishing opportunities all of the way along the River Thames. Sea fish species can be caught all the way up to the Thames tidal flood barrier in Woolwich in south-east London, which is over fifty miles away from the North Sea proper, and flounder and silver eels can be caught even further inland than this. The issue of needing a fishing licence to fish for sea species in estuaries and tidal rivers is ambiguous, but it is generally accepted that anglers using sea fishing equipment to target sea fish in do not need a fishing licence. Read more on this topic by clicking here.

  • The marks below begin at Southend-on-Sea on the north side of the Thames Estuary and then continue inland towards London.
Southend on Sea Pier
Southend on Sea Pier © Chris Downer

Southend on Sea – Southend Pier is just over 1.3 miles long (the longest pleasure pier in the world) and offers great fishing opportunities, although parts of the pier dry out at low tide and can therefore only be fished over high tide. Summer sees mackerel, scad and garfish taken with floatfished baits and spinners and lures. Floatfish baits can be set baits near the surface for garfish and deeper down for mackerel. Mullet are also a possibility for anglers using bread, earthworms, harbour rag and small fish strips on small hooks and light gear in calm conditions. Bass and flatfish can also be caught on worm and crab baits. Winter brings cod, whiting and pouting with flounder and dab also being common catches, and silver eels will also be caught in spring to summer. A ticket must be purchased to fish from the pier, and there are restrictions on the sections of the pier that can be fished and the times when fishing can take place, click here for more information. View this area on Google Maps here.

Labworth Beach, Canvey Island
Labworth Beach Canvey Island © Ron Galliers

Canvey Island – There are a number of beaches around the Canvey Island area that offer a range of species. The beaches are mostly clean ground and made up of sand and mud, with a few patches of slightly rougher ground. Long-distance casting can pay off here, as much of the water is quite shallow. Labworth beach offers good summer fishing for bass and silver eels on peeler crab baits, while winter sees the usual whiting and cod with lugworm and squid cocktails on pennell rigs finding the fish. Flounder are one species that can also be caught at close range to worm baits, while longer casting needed to reach the better fish, especially cod. The sea wall area and beach at Thorney Bay caravan park can fish well a few hours either side of high tide for whiting over winter and well into the new year, with other species such as cod, flounder, dab, pouting and silver eels also caught here. View this area on Google Maps here.

Tilbury Fort
Tilbury Fort © Mark Murphy

Tilbury – There are plenty of great angling marks around this area. The sea wall defences around Tilbury Fort and the World’s End pub offer a range of places to fish from. Flatfish, mainly flounder and sole, are caught to worm baits, and bass and silver eels will be caught here in the summer. Peeler crab is the best bait for them but worm baits and mackerel strip will also catch fish. In winter cod and whiting will be caught here with size 1/0 – 2/0 hooks in a strong pattern being the best choice as they will allow the smaller whiting to be caught but can also handle a larger cod. This is a mixed ground area with clean snag-free sections and some marks where gear will be lost. High tide is usually the best time to fish this mark. View this area on Google Maps here.

Greys Wharf
Greys Wharf © Nigel Chadwick

Grays – Grays Wharf is a good mark for a number of different species such as whiting, cod, flounder, pouting and bass. Lugworm and ragworm are both good all-round baits from here, while peeler crab can catch the better bass. A top bait for the winter cod is a large black lugworm and squid cocktail presented on a pennell rig. This mark fishes best around high tide and daytime fishing is always much better if the water is a little choppy and carrying some colour. View this area on Google Maps here.

Harrison Wharf, Purfleet
Harrison Wharf, Purfleet © John Winfield

Purfleet and Rainham – Silver eels, flounder, whiting, school bass, codling and pouting can be caught from both of these marks. This far inland earthworm can also be successfully used to catch flounder and silver eels. Marks alongside Harrison Wharf in Purfleet are worth a try for all of these species. The Ferry Lane area of Rainham is good for all these species as well, plus possibly sole, as the ground being cast onto is mostly snag-free mud. It is a high tide mark with fishing a few hours either side of high water the best bet. View this area on Google Maps here.

Thames Barrier, Woolwich
Thames Barrier, Woolwich © Nick Dennison

Woolwich – This marks the furthest point up the River Thames that sea fish species can be caught on a regular basis. Mullet are present here and can be caught in calm weather to the usual bread and earthworm baits. Flounder, being a species that can tolerate low salinity are also caught here, as are silver eels to peeler crab or mackerel strip baits. Earthworms can be a successful bait here, not just for mullet, but also for silver eels and flounder as well, while the more conventional sea fishing baits of ragworm and lugworm will also catch fish. View this area on Google Maps here.

  • The following marks begin at Thamesmead and then continue back towards the North Sea along the south bank of the Thames.
Thamesmead © Chris Downer

Thamesmead –  There are plenty of good fishing marks at Thamesmead with whiting being caught in winter, along with codling, although if the fish are in it is likely to be the whiting species which is caught in the greater number. Flatfish are also caught here with regularity, with flounder being by far the most common species, although school bass and silver eels will show as well. Worm baits are a good all-round bait here which will tempt most of the species present, although other baits such as squid, mackerel and peeler crab will also catch fish. View this area on Google Maps here.

Erith Pier
Erith Pier © Stephen Craven

Erith – Erith Pier is the longest on the Thames and is a very popular angling mark. It can produce flounder, sole and silver eels in summer. Worm baits seem to work best here with king ragworm, blow lugworm and harbour rag all catching fish. Earthworms are also reported to be successful here for the flounder and silver eels. Whiting are caught here in the winter and the odd codling as well. Mullet are present here in the summer but catching them is a challenge and the usual stealthy tactics and baits could pay off but a lot of time may have to be spent before catches of this species are made. View this area on Google Maps here.

Dartford Bridge
Dartford Bridge © Clem Rutter

Greenhithe and Dartford Bridge – Bass are still found this far up the river and some good specimens are reported from here, along with the smaller school bass. They will go for a range of baits with ragworm and peeler crab being two of the more successful. There are the usual flounder and silver eels to peeler crab, ragworm and lugworm baits. Whiting and codling are present here in the colder weather and whiting can be caught in decent numbers to most baits with ragworm and mackerel strip being two of the most effective. View this area on Google Maps here.

The Ship and Lobster Pub
The Ship and Lobster Pub, Gravesend © David Anstiss

Gravesend – Jetties and patches of shingle near to the famous Ship and Lobster pub offer some of the best fishing around here with bass, sole and silver eels caught in warmer months, cod and whiting in the winter. The Three Doors mark offers a safe and comfortable fishing venue and is easy to access. Bass, silver eels and various flatfish such as flounder and Dover sole are caught in the summer, whiting, cod and pouting can show in winter. Fish can be caught close in but longer casts can locate the bigger fish. Some mullet also found around here in calm weather in the warm summer months. View this area on Google Maps here.

Barton's Point, Isle of Sheppey
Barton’s Point, Isle of Sheppey © Graham Butcher

Isle of Sheppey, Kent – Beaches and other marks at Sheerness can be good in winter for cod and there are plenty of whiting around as well. School bass are also caught on worm and peeler crab baits and various flatfish in summer are also taken on lugworms and ragworms. Barton’s Point is a good mark for cod and whiting in the winter with flounder and dab also taken. Try rag or lugworm for the flatfish and larger worm and squid cocktails for the cod. In the summer Dover sole are present but hook size needs to be stepped down to size 4 or 5 to catch them. Marks around the Eastchurch area are reported to be ray hotspots. Try fishing mackerel or herring fillet or sandeel baits at range. Leysdown offers a number of good fishing marks with flounder, silver eel, codling and whiting all possible catches, as well as a thornback ray sandeel baits fished at distance. View this area on Google Maps here.