Fishing and crabbing on the River Hamble

Recreational fishing is welcome on the river


The River Hamble is an important nursery ground for a variety of species, including bass. It also supports migrating sea trout. The mouth of the river and Southampton Water are important oyster bed grounds.

You can fish for salmon and sea trout at certain times of the year as long as you have a current Environment Agency rod licence.

Close seasons protect fish stocks from the impacts of angling during and after the breeding season:

  • for migratory sea trout this is from 1 November to the 30 April
  • for salmon this is from 3 October to the 16 January

Drift, trawl or other net fishing or shellfish dredging in the River is not permitted except with the written permission of the Harbour Master.

There are also restriction on fishing for bass - see section below.

There are several areas where you can gain public access to the river on footpaths, but please ensure you are aware of ground conditions and the states of the tide. The Harbour Authority owns 3 jetties which you may use to fish from but we ask that you contact the harbour office for permission to do so (as per signage at the jetties). These are the public jetties at Warsash (the one in front of our office only), at Hamble Quay and the River Hamble Country Park Jetty. These are also popular places for families to go crabbing. We ask that you please remove all your waste and that you keep lines and equipment away from vessels using the pontoons and people accessing these vessels. Some anglers also use the shingle beach areas on the spits at the mouth of the estuary.

Bass fishing

The River Hamble is an important bass nursery area. There are restrictions on bass fishing. These apply to recreation fishermen regardless of whether you are fishing from a boat or from the shore. See the current restrictions on bass fishing in place.


Crabbing on the river is very popular. Best results are achieved two hours either side of high water, from Warsash and Hamble quay walls. If you wish to go crabbing at all states of tide it is recommended that you use the pontoon in the River Hamble Country Park. Crabbing equipment is available to buy from the Harbour Masters Office.

Bait digging

 Bait digging for personal/recreational use is part of the public's right to fish.

You should ensure you are safe, follow laws and local regulations, and act in a  sustainable manner.

The Bait Collectors' Code is a voluntary code of conduct for responsible and sustainable bait collection.

On the Hamble Estuary there is a bye-law to restrict the digging of bait to prevent damage to inter-tidal structures.

You should not dig for fishing bait:

  • within 15 metres of any mooring
  • within 6 metres of any pile, beacon, mark, hard, causeway, jetty, quay, wharf or similar structure

You should replace all material dug out.


Commercial fishing boats moored on the Hamble mostly fish outside the river. Sometimes they fish for grey mullet in the river. During the winter season some may dredge for oysters in the river mouth.

Commercial fishermen must request a license from the Harbour Office. Conditions attached protect the navigational safety and mooring structures of the river.

Fisherman must also be licensed by other bodies such as the Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (IFCA).

The European Union controls sea fishing, and member states can bring further regulations to their own vessels. IFCAs are responsible for managing fisheries within 6 miles of the coast, and can set byelaws.

The mouth of the Hamble falls under the control of the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.

Within the river falls under the control of the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency can make bye-laws regulating fishing for Salmon and freshwater fish.

The Environment Agency also enforces water quality standards for shellfish under the Shellfish Waters Directive.

To obtain a fishing permits please contact the office.