SEA temperatures three degrees warmer than normal at this time of year are thought to be responsible for more impressive catches by fishermen off Littlehampton.
In the space of a couple of days fishermen netted a rare, 35lb deep sea angler fish, six miles off the coast of Littlehampton, as well as three uncommonly large blonde rays.
Paul Hill, 39, who landed the angler fish – more commonly found in oceans hundreds of metres deep – couldn’t believe his eyes when he pulled the fish from the 30m waters.
Fishmonger Simon Faber, who works at the Riverside Fish cabin, in Pier Road, said: “Paul was so excited when he called me.
“He kept me guessing at which fish he had caught. I honestly couldn’t believe it when he told me it was a 35lb angler fish.
“It’s so rare to see one this size, away from the deeper oceans.
“The average catch could be about 10lb. It was enormous – at least 18 years old.”
On Thursday (March 22), Danny Clark, 64, netted one of three huge, blonde rays near the shallow waters at Kingsmere Rocks.
Danny, who has been fishing in the area for almost 50 years, was in a state of “complete euphoria” when he bagged his 28lb 6oz ray, said Simon.
On the same day, two other fishermen nearby caught one 22lb ray and a larger, 32lb specimen.
Simon said it is an exciting time to be fishing off Littlehampton and that this year had already been exceptional.
“I have never seen anything like it,” he said. “This year has already seen some recording-breaking catches, that most of us would struggle to see in a lifetime.
“We have seen huge cod and plaice. We’re getting big Dover soles and so many turbot, Littlehampton’s sea is absolutely teeming with life. It’s truly unprecedented.”
Simon believes that the sudden influx of large fish and crustacea is due, in part, to the unseasonably warm sea, which he said is about three degrees warmer than normal.
This has attracted a higher number of smaller fish, which in turn bring in larger, predatory species who wouldn’t normally feed in this area.