Where can you take the whole family fishing
Mum Dad and the kids. Well for me it is Gran, Grandad and grandson aged 7. Where do we go? Three things come to mind when selecting a place for a family friendly fishing trip with children.
- Realistic chance of a fish
- Ideally other things to do when the kids get bored. Sandy beach or safe rocks
Do remember that children will probably only want an hour or two before they get bored or cold unless there is a lot of fish.
Details of 7 good family friendly fishing places
1. Bridlington North beach
This probably the best family friendly fishing place I know. The end of the North beach away from the town is a safe worthwhile place although you may have to walk a distance from Bridlington to get away from swimmers in high summer. The top part of the beach is quite steep here so at high water you are in quite a depth. It is usually best fishing a couple of hours either side of high water.
It is one of my favorite safe fishing places when the early evening coincides with high water. Do watch your bait as there are a lot of dog walkers and some (dogs not the dog walkers) love smelly bait!!!! My grandson has caught dabs, plaice, coalfish, eels, whiting, bass and flounders here. You do not have to cast far as the fish usually come in close.
Hornsea is a very easy place to fish. Parking and access to the beach is easy and all sorts of species can be caught depending on time of year and weather. I prefer the North end of Hornsea but people fish all the way along. Most people fish from half tide up to high water and then back to half tide . However other times do fish. I have caught cod near low water in the past.
When there are strong westerly winds it is calm and sheltered. In these conditions night time is definitely best. Generally it fishes better when the water near the shore is coloured, in other words after there has been some surf. There are cafes and take aways along the seafront but Hornsea is not a busy resort like the main 4. Dabs can be caught at any time of the year with worm the best bait. Fish baits will take whiting, thornbacks and dogfish at times and I am sure there is an occasional bass. A really good family friendy fishing fishing place.
3.Filey coble landing
As you can see Filey coble landing is a high water only venue and very shallow. However you can catch some good flounders. Other fish are occasionally caught including the odd bass but these are generally small. You ideally want worms as bait and these can be dug on the beach when the tide is low. There is lots to do if young ones get bored and you have lots of take aways very close. Very safe as long as they do not climb on the railings. Another popular place on the seafront is the bull nose which is where the paddling pool is at the other end of the sea wall. Anglers do target bass here at times and again worms are the bait to choose.
4.South Landing Flamborough
South landing is probably the only place on Flamborough head for a family fishing trip. There is a small beach and no deep water to fall in. It used to be a good place for cod in winter and there are signs they are returning in 2020. It is now better known for flounders on the sand and bass off the rocks in summer.
You can use an ordinary ledger rig baited with worms for flounders and dabs on the sand which will also catch other fish. Crabs can be a problem so keep checking your bait.
Bass can very very occasionally be caught on all sorts of plugs, spinners and soft lures from the rocks. However it is important to realise bass are not usually there and sea conditions usually unsuitable for this sort of fishing. As it is shallow and snaggy, floating lures are a must for children for this sort of fishing. The rocks are not easy to walk on and some are very slippery so it is not an easy place to fish. Family friendly for older children but not the easiest even when flat calm. There is often a lot of floating weed that sticks to your line and can make fishing impossible at times.
5.South pier Bridlington
Bridlington South pier is extremely popular and an easy place to fish. However I personally would not feel happy here with young children. The pier is quite narrow and there is traffic including large lorries reversing . There is also the drop into the harbour. You are casting onto sand and you should use grip leads if bottom fishing to avoid drifting into other peoples lines. It fishes best on big tides about 2 hours either side of high water.
There is lots to see but it can get busy. Almost all the local fish have been caught here including thornback rays, bass and cod. However you are more likely to catch various flatfish, coalfish and in winter whiting. If the mackerel are in the bay they can be occasionally caught here on big tides. There is a bait shed near the bottom of the slope that leads to the harbour. They usually have worms. It is well worth buying worms even if they cost more than other baits.
Do be aware that fisheries officers have been known to check anglers bags for undersized fish particularly bass on the South pier. They are often down checking the crab and lobster fishing boats so frequently walk past all the anglers on the South pier.
The North pier can be fished in winter . It is wider and has no traffic so may be a better option in winter.
The car park fishes around high water. There needs to be some spare car parking places so you have room to cast . Not good at midday at the height of the summer holiday or nice weekends. Later in the day the fishing is usually better anyway. You are casting onto rock either flat or some boulders. Take a look at low water to see where the snaggier areas are. All the usual fish can be caught here. Some nice bass have been caught but like all bass fishing it is very hit and miss, mainly miss.
7. Holderness beaches
This is a good stretch of coast and over 30 miles long with relatively steep beaches so you are casting into a good depth of water at high water. However it is safe as long as it is calm. You can fish off the beach anywhere from Bridlington to Spurn point, wherever there is easy access. There are very good catches at times and you do not always have to cast a long way.
A beach is always safer than rocks and children can always find things to do if a bit bored. The rest of the family can have a picnic. At some places the access to the beach is down a clay cliff and can be a bit awkward but usually some kind person has cut steps in the clay for the summer so as long it is dry it is not too bad. It will take a bit of research maybe to find these places but well worthwhile. If you can easily get down to the beach then anywhere on this stretch of the Yorkshire coast is an excellent family friendly fishing place with a good chance of a decent catch.
In winter it used to be exceptional for cod. My best catch ever was 32 codling in 3 hours in the 1980s. The beaches were lined with anglers. What might you catch now, dab and flounder plus the very odd bass at any time of the year is possible and in winter whiting and the occasional cod particularly in the dark. There are a few signs that winter cod fishing may be improving with a few good catches in recent times. Thornback ray and various members of the dogfish family seem to be showing up more as well.
Yorkshire Coast beaches should be fished with any ordinary rig and 2 or 3 smallish hooks baited with worm if possible (squid is an alternative). You may well catch flounder and dabs. Dabs (close relatives of lemon sole) are one of my favourite eating fishes. Remember you can tell dabs and flounder easily apart as the Dab has a slightly translucent white side whereas the flounder is uniform matt white. The Dab has a very rough brown skin if rubbed towards the head whereas the flounder feels smooth.
If finding your own places what you should look for
A relatively gentle sloping shore is best. Rock ledges with deep water and kelp are not a recipe for a safe relaxed fishing trip.
This takes us to safe sandy beaches and maybe safe piers if that is your thing. Obviously the main beaches become impossible to fish when its hot and every one is in the sea.
There is also the chance of a bass through the summer months particularly if the sea is coloured with an east wind. You might even catch a thornback ray, dogfish or dover sole. You may have crab problems (eating your bait) in summer so check bait. Once there has been a frost in winter the crabs move to deeper water. In winter the beaches have a very good chance of a few whiting in winter especially at night. Mackerel tends to be the best bait for whiting. There used to be good catches of cod off the beaches in winter although those days seem to have gone. Worm was always the best bait for cod. Cod are still caught just nowhere near as many.
Surface lure fishing
One method of fishing my grandson likes is using a surface plug for bass when it is really calm. If he cannot get far enough I cast out and he winds it in. The surface plug floats on the surface so cannot catch any weed or rocks that are about and he can see it. The gear is a light spinning rod and reel so he can handle it all. He kept this up for quite a while. He has not caught one yet.
Does it work?
As a method of catching bass I can testify it works and it is the most exciting way of catching a bass by far. It will leave you shaking. You may see the swirl and maybe the fin before the bass hits. Of course the bass are usually not there but you can spend a happy hour just winding in your plastic fish. You are most likely to catch a bass close to change of light morning/ evening.
This can be an effective method anywhere there are bass in shallow water that is fairly clear (say at least 1m visibility). Slightly murkier at the water edge is good. If the water is really murky you are better off with bait. Bass will happily swim in a foot of water and the few I have caught have been very close to the shore. Suitable lures are a Storm chug bug or a Savage Panic Prey psycho sandeel. This method can also be used over shallow shelving rock as the tide comes in.
Night fishing on a beach can make a family friendly fishing trip if the weather is good. It is a real adventure for young ones to go night fishing. Probably easier to start in daylight and go over into dark. This is also one of the best times to catch. With modern super bright LED headlamps so cheap it is a real adventure. You also have the wonder of seeing the night sky away from all the street lights. As long as the weather is good with no heavy swell and the sea is calm it is perfectly safe.
It is obvious when the wind is in the east and blowing on shore that it is rough and not suitable for taking the children fishing off the shore. Many accidents happen each year with anglers swept off rocks and slipways and some of these are fatal. The deeper the water you are fishing in the more potentially dangerous.
Do be aware that although beaches are generally safe, once well south of Bridlington, Northerly swells can build up quite quickly especially at high water putting a heavy surf onto the beach. Every now and then one wave much bigger can crash onto the beach and run a long way up it and could a knock a child off their feet.
Two things to remember.
- Not all waves are the same size and a much larger one can suddenly rear up particularly if you are fishing near deep water. The waves also tend to get much bigger as high water is approached.
- There may have been no wind for days but this does not necessarily mean that it is safe. A big swell may be building up coming from a gale in the Arctic. Twice now in my life I have started fishing a session in no wind and very calm conditions and yet six hours later there has been a huge, potentially dangerous surf on the shore. You can now check wave forecasts at places like magicseaweed. Their forecasts are pretty accurate
A few more ideas for child friendly fishing
Northern Yorkshire coast (around Whitby)
This is a very rocky coast and can be dangerous in heavy Northerly surf. There are many places you can get cut off. There are few beaches. The beach at Sandsend is also good but not suitable for children if there is a heavy surf. This part of the coast takes the full force of Northerly swells coming down from the Arctic. There may be no wind where you are but the swell was created a couple of days ago up in the Arctic ocean. These swells can really build up at high water and the undertow would knock a child of their feet. Many fish off the West pier at Whitby but I would not have thought a relaxing place to be with children. There are other places with small stony beaches but I do not think they fill the criteria above for safety and realistic chance of fish.
Middle section of the Yorkshire Coast (around Filey Scarborough and Flamborough)
Scarborough is mainly rock fishing. Scarborough East pier is also popular and you are casting onto sand here but it is a very high wall so not the best place for young children.
Reighton sands is also a good place for a family outing . You need to park at the cliff top. You go to Reighton Village and follow signs for Reighton Gap. this takes you down Sands lane to the cliff top where there is a small un-tarmacked car park. The route down the cliff is not brilliant so it depends on how old your children are. There is no sea wall or facilities. The sea can reach the cliff so make sure you do not get cut off. It can have a heavy surf so be aware. It is OK for children when calm and there is a realistic chance of a fish.
Other places in Bridlington
It is important to remember that Bridlington bay is by far the most sheltered bit of coast in Yorkshire. There is the obvious protection of Flamborough head but also the not so obvious shelter provided by Smithic Sands. This is an area of shallow sands and stones that stretches from near Flamborough head south several miles. It stops the biggest waves from entering the bay. In easterly gales or northerly swells, surf can be seen breaking a few miles out. This is what makes Bridlington’s beaches the safest on the Yorkshire coast.
In Bridlington you can fish on the North pier in winter and as a young lad this was my favourite place with my best cod of 11 pounds and I have had catches of up to 13 cod in one session off one rod. Worm (big black lugworm, locals call gullys) was the bait which out fished any other by miles. I have not heard of those sort of catches on the North pier for many years but their have still been good catches of whiting in winter and occasional codling when conditions were perfect. Perfect means a bit of South easterly sea but not too much and preferably a big tide. The big cod were often caught from about 2 hours after low water for a couple of hours. High water when most people fished was not as productive.
Soth Pier corner
Bass have been caught near the South pier in front of the Spa but this can be busy with pedestrains so really only when it is quiet. Anglers have found small bass from the Bridlington south beach to the south of the sea wall in front of the Park and Ride from half tide to high water on bigger tides. It is very shallow and they are not usually there but you never know. If you are there it may be worth a go as long as there are no swimmers about. Worm is needed as bait.
Taking children on a 6 hour (or more) angling trip is in most cases a recipe for disaster. They need a short journey to the fishing grounds and an overall short trip as well as a good chance of catching some fish. You also need to choose a really calm day so no point in booking well in advance. Decide on the day.
Flamborough North landing
Probably the best bet is the fishing coble at North landing Flamborough. They do take angling parties out but only when the weather is calm. The good fishing grounds are very very close and you will always be close to the cliffs with interesting things to look at. They do have a facebook page with contact details. They are a proper fishing family who tend to their crab pots in the morning and know the area like the back of their hands so you will be safe.
My other choice would be to try and find a short trip from Bridlington. The bay is very calm and at times there is reasonable fishing quite close to the harbour for a variety of fish especially mackerel.
Do read our general Yorkshire coast fishing page for more tips and places