all counties

Select a county to find local food


The Sussex coast is home to a wonderful range of fish and shellfish. We asked local Sussex fishmonger Veasey & Sons to share with us the great catches they receive from their crew of fishermen. Dan the shop manger was more than happy to oblige, and proved himself to be a bottomless lobster pot of knowledge on all things fish related.

Here’s the ultimate guide to what’s in Dan’s net at any given time of year. All fish are caught off Eastbourne, apart from the scallops which can be found in Newhaven.



Season: February/March - May

The scallop’s distinctive shell has been immortalised in Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. The scallop is made up of two edible parts – the white scallop (the muscle) and the orange coral (the roe).

Brown Crab

Season: Spring - Summer

The Sussex coast is famous for its brown crab. Easily identifiable from its distinctive pie crust shell, brown crab meat is succulent and sweet.


Season: Summer

The lobster is arguably the king of shellfish. The European lobster, the species commonly found in Sussex, is blue in colour, apart from its antennae which are bright red. Its left claw is smaller than the right. The left is used for precise cutting, and the right is dedicated to crushing.

Common Whelk

Season: All year round

The tall spiral shell of this apparently pale mollusc conceals its yellow body which is speckled with black spots.


Season: Spring - Summer

This iconic seafood is completely edible, apart from the beak and the quill. The quill is a transparent spine that serves as support for the squid’s body.

Common Cuttlefish

Season: Spring

The common cuttlefish is one of the largest of its species. This highly evolved mollusc can change its colour and texture to conceal itself, or attract a mate.


Lemon Sole

Season: Late winter – early spring

Despite what its name suggests, the lemon sole is neither yellow nor lemon-flavoured. It isn’t even a sole. This flat fish is in fact red-brown in colour, and speckled with pink, orange, yellow and green.  Its mottled skin helps it to blend into the seabed.

Thornback Ray

Season: Winter – Spring

A name you may not be familiar with, ray is a great alternative to skate. The common skate is a victim of overfishing, and is currently critically endangered, making it not so common at all.

Channel Whiting

Season: All year round

Also known as silver whiting, this abundant fish used to be unpopular and underused. However, it has found fame in recent years as an alternative to cod.

Pout Whiting

Season: All year round

Pout whiting goes by many names: bib, pouting, pout. Whatever name you choose, it doesn’t change that fact that this fish is often considered a pest by fishermen as it has a habit of stealing bait intended for other fish. 

Dover Sole

Season: All year round

Sussex is known for its Dover sole, although the official name is “common sole”. The more popular name came about in the 1800s when there was a huge demand for this fish from London. Several times a day a stagecoach would race to Dover, where vast numbers of this fish would be caught, to collect enough fish to meet demand from the capital.


Season: Winter – early spring

Brill has a distinctive “frilly” appearance, and is a wonderful substitute for turbot. Its colouring varies greatly according to its habitat, but brill is usually a grey-brown with light and dark stippling, and a white-pink underside.

Sea Bass 

Season: Late autumn/early winter – Spring

A very popular fish, sea bass are silver in colour with dark fins. This attractive body conceals sharp gill covers and prickly spines.  Probably best left to Dan’s fishermen.

Tub Gurnard

Season: All year round

Gurnard are one of the Sussex coast’s more colourful residents. They have a characteristic red body with blue fins. They are also an unusual looking fish. Its spiny armoured head encloses a gaping mouth, and its prickly fins are finger-like to help it crawl along the sea floor.


Season: Autumn

This fish is readily identifiable from its distinctive red spots. Unusually, plaice can survive low salt conditions, so they can occasionally be found in fresh water. Another intriguing fact is that they take up to 30 years to reach full size. 


Season: Summer

A relative of the tuna, mackerel is one of Sussex’s more striking fish. Its slick silver body has unmistakeable blue-green striping along the top. This fish must always be on the move in order to breathe. Mackerel is plentiful, which is good news for health lovers as this oily fish is rich in omega-3.


Season: Spring

Pollack was relatively unknown until a few years ago when it came to the fore as a cod substitute. These fast growing and relatively short lived fish are something of a mystery as experts cannot determine where they spawn.


Season:  Spring

Once referred to as “the poor man’s lobster”, monkfish is now a delicacy in its own right. Like all angler fish, the monk fish bears a strong resemblance to a sea monster.


Season: Autumn – Winter

Although delicious, the dab is rarely fished for. It is usually a by-catch of other species. This flatfish is similar in appearance to a plaice and a flounder, but it has a distinctive semi-circular curve above its fin.

European Flounder

Season: Autumn

The flounder, like the place, can tolerate fresh water, so in the spring it can be found in the Ouse and Adur. Interestingly, the flounder only requires a few inches of water to survive.


Season: September

Not only prized for its flesh, herring’s roe is also a delicacy. Herring are silver on bottom and blue on top, hence the phrase “red herring”. Young herring are known as whitebait.

Conger Eel

Season: All year round

Conger eel is something of a mystery fish as little is known about their breeding habits. They are commonly 1.5 m long, but they can reach twice that size. Larger eels have cannibalistic tendencies, and they have even been known to attack humans.

Grey Mullet

Season: Spring

The grey mullet are renowned for being difficult to catch. This is due to their naturally wary disposition combined with great eyesight and fighting instinct. But this fish is no match for Dan’s crew.

Red Mullet

Season: Summer

Unrelated to the grey mullet, this fish was a prized pet in ancient times. The Romans kept red mullet in ponds, where they would be trained to come and feed at the ringing of a bell or a call from their keeper. These fish were so coveted that they frequently sold for their weight in silver.

John Dory

Season: Summer

The chef’s favourite, John Dory is famed for its extremely versatile flavour. It’s an unusual looking fish due to its large flat oval-shaped body with spiny fins and a gaping mouth. The John Dory’s most distinctive feature is the single dark eyespot it has on each side of its body. It uses this to confuse prey which it then swallows whole.

Sand Sole

Season: All year round

This little known fish is frequently found with Dover sole. Unlike its fishy friend, the sand sole swims far and wide. It calls the most of the Atlantic and all of the Mediterranean Sea its home.

Ballan Wrasse

Season: Autumn - Winter

The wrasse is a bony fish, which makes it great for stocks and soups. Interestingly, all Ballan wrasse start life as females; a few become male after four to fourteen years.  Wrasse also follow shoals of red mullet regularly to steal their leftovers.

Black Bream

Season: Summer

Like the wrasse, black bream have the ability to change sex. They are instantly recognisable by their compressed oval body and jaws which contain teeth that are larger at the front. Despite what the name would suggest, black bream are silver in colour with hints of pink and blue.

Gilt-head bream

Season: Summer

Similar in appearance to its cousin the black bream, the gilt-head gets its name from the gold stripe between the eyes. It is also widely regarded as the tastiest of the bream family.


Read more about Veasey & Sons fishmongers, who have shops in Horsham and Forest Row.

Tags: fish

Add Pingback