Fishing is one of the most popular sports in England and no matter where you are in England, you’re never far from the sea and have a chance of catching some great fish.
The saltwater fishing in England isn’t quite as exciting as being in the Bolivian amazon rain forest or in the Arabian sea off Oman but its historic nature has a great vibe. Even if the weather can be somewhat wet at times!
That being said, saltwater fishing in England does offer a diverse range of fish species and you can do it on some spectacular coastlines.
Having been born in England and with over 50 years of experience under my belt, I’m going to showcase the best saltwater fishing England has to offer.
We’ll discuss the best saltwater fish to catch in England, where to catch them, how to catch them, and who to catch them with.
Top Saltwater Fish To Catch In England
Being part of an island England has a long and varies around the coastline. and the salty seas of England, you have quite a diverse list of fish species that you can target depending on your mood and what you like to fish for.
The seas off England are quite rich and while most locals will have lovely memories of a mackerel fishing trip from their youth, there is a lot more offer.
Here are the top saltwater species to target in England:
Where To Go Saltwater Fishing In England
Knowing where to go fishing in England is 90% of the battle when trying to find good fishing in this country. If you do a quick online search you’ll find yourself bewildered with the multiple different options and it’s extremely hard to know if the area is any good.
That’s where I come in. All the places listed below are places I have fished regularly and they are excellent for the particular species they hold.
The southwest coast of England stretches from Dorset to Devon and down to Cornwall and it holds some of the best sea fishing you’re likely to find in England. Almost every town along the coast has a harbour full of boats just waiting to take you to wrecks and ledges full of pollock, bass, plaice, and rays.
You can also fish directly off the sandy beach or off the rocks by just casting out a bottom bait or two and waiting for a bite.
The location called the Fly Cellars is a platform that provides good summer fishing for mackerel caught using spinners, feathers, and daylights. Various other species such as pouting, Dover sole, and gurnards are also caught during the summer months.
Codling (juvenile cod), whiting, and various flatfish are caught during the early winter months and dogfish are always present.
The area around Watergate Bay always finds sea anglers fishing for a reasonable size bass especially when the tides are strong. as well as various ray species to long casts
Salt cove is the key area for a chance of catching bass. Near to the end of Pentire headland, has some of the best bass fishing in the area. Head for the north end of Crantock on the headland.
Padstow Harbour, Cornwall
Padstow in the most southerly part of England is a well-known fishing area for sea anglers. This stunning fishing port on the Cornish coast offers angling from the shore, offshore from boats, or even in the River Camel estuary.
Most fish found in this area are known as Whitefish, which include Cod, Pouting, and Whiting. Also, in abundance are flatfish (such as dabs, plaice, and sole) can be found regularly fishing from the beaches. In the harbour areas and the rocky seas many gurnards, mackerel and bass can be found.
The best areas to target are on the west side of the harbour, around St. Saviour’s Point, the rocks by St. George’s Cove, and near the cliffs around the coastguard houses at Stepper Point.
Dungeness Beach, Kent
When I first fished at Dungeness more than 40 years ago, it was the place to go for Cod – there was nowhere better in England.
Dungeness Beach is located at Romney March near Lydd, Kent. Dungeness is a sloping stony beach located on a point of land in the southeast part of England. Fishing from the beach is relatively easy as there are very few snags to get your gear caught up in.
The deepwater holds silver eels, lesser-spotted dogfish, sole, and bass in the summer months. In the winter is when the cod arrive in numbers. The best baits have always been using freshly dug black lugworm as a top hook bait or a whole squid can entice the cod to bite.
The whole length of the coastline of Dungeness produces great fish for sea angling. Many anglers will head for the area near the lighthouses, where cod always seem to show up in better numbers.
Summertime is always the prime time for the whitefish, bass, rays, flounders, or mackerel.
If you’re after big cod then the wintertime will always be the most productive time. Unfortunately, this also can be a dreary, wet, and cold time in England, and unless you’re a die-hard cod angler it’s not for everyone!
The best time to go fishing in England is between the months of April and October and the seas are a lot calmer to fish on too. But this restricts the opportunity of catching a decent-sized cod.
In summary, the following general guidelines will help you identify the best times to catch what fish
Certain species will return to the UK waters after the winter months. Plaice, mackerel, sprats, sand eels, and garfish are the common returnees. Cod, on the other hand, start to move away and head for the colder Scandinavian waters.
With the seawater becoming warmer, species such as the sprat, mackerel, pollock, turbot, plaice, and garfish will be in the shallow waters. Sharks, tope, and other rarer fish will be found in the southwestern parts of England. Bass is the main summer fish and will be the target fish for many sea anglers.
Autumn is the most common time for sea anglers, a wide range of fish species are in almost all waters around England.
Fish that prefer the warmer water such as bass, rays, pollock, mackerel, conger eels, and wrasse start to move away from England to warmer waters. However, the winter species move in, such as cod, pollack (particularly on the northern coasts of England), whiting, dab, and flounder.
Winter is the best cod season. The last bass may still be around but also other specifies such as whiting, flatfish, flounder, and dabs can be caught. During the months of January and February is the slow season, only April onwards as the water warms slightly are the fish going to return in better numbers.
Tip: Whilst Plaice are flatfish they will leave the UK waters before the winter months arrive in September/October.
Best Ways Of Catching Fish In England
When it comes to sea fishing in England, you have the choice of trolling, jigging on wrecks, casting lures, using live bait, or dead bait.
Saltwater Fishing from the shore
The most prominent fishing times are from mid-tide up to high and then a few hours back down again. Tides play a major part with shore fishing, which as an angler you must know in detail what time of the day and the type of tide, and how high the tides are.
Whilst not always true, longer casts typically will find the larger fish, especially bass and the rays.
Fishing from the rocks areas can catch various fish such as wrasse, bass, and pollock. Spinning is likely to be the best tactic for the pollock and bass.
The harbour fishing varies from each location. Generally, good size mullets can be caught using float fishing tactics along with flounders when fishing on the bottom of more sandy areas. Piers can also be a great place to fish from and these breakwaters can produce mackerel, garfish, and pollock using float-fished baits in the summer, lures are also very effective.
Worm baits are the most likely to catch most species from the shore. Ragworm and lugworm are naturally available on beaches across the UK.
Secondly, are fish baits such as herring and mackerel, used whole or in a sliver form.
Other baits such as squid and crabs are also great alternatives for most fishing.
Saltwater Fishing from a boat
Fishing from boats can be a little more difficult to assess. My strong recommendation is to ask the charter skipper about the best methods and baits for the area. The boat skippers vast knowledge in the sea where he fishes every day is invaluable. This information will save time and be more rewarding.
Multiple variables can impact catches from boats – time of the year, species, methods, baits, and the sea bottom (over sand, rocks, or wrecks) can determine the best methods.
How To Book Your Fishing Trip To England
For an adventure on the sea in Southwest England, book a fishing trip with Our Joe-L one of the best charter boats on the coast.
If you are unsure of where you would like to go charter fishing around the English coasts you can check out this extremely valuable site at charter boats UK. They are a well-renowned resource for the best charter boat options around the united kingdom, including the locations that I have recommended above in this article.
England’s Fishing Regulations
You don’t need a license to fish in the sea in England. This includes harbours and piers.
However, fishing estuaries and out-of-tidal waters can sometimes require a fishing licence. If you are unsure ask at the local tackle shop in the area where you plan to fish. Even if you are using sea fishing gear for saltwater species, it can be illegal.
I hope you found this article useful and gives a little more insight on how to plan your saltwater fishing trips to England.
With so much coastline, England really does have a lot of fishing to offer for everyone all year round.