The fishing on the Yorkshire Coast is still as good as anywhere in the country

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When fishing off the shore on the Yorkshire Coast anglers catch mainly cod, bass, whiting, pollack, coalfish, wrasse, dabs, thornback rays and mackerel. Boat anglers off the Yorkshire Coast also target tope and ling. There are not as many cod caught off the Yorkshire Coast as there used to be but the right place and time can still bring a decent catch. The rock marks on the Northern part of the Yorkshire Coast are probably best for cod although in recent winters there have been some good catches on some parts of the Holderness coast.

The big challenge

Shore fishing is challenging and so it is important to use the right technique at the right place and time. People are particularly reticent about giving information about where and when you can catch bass on the Yorkshire Coast. The truth is that it is very difficult to catch them consistently even if you have a lot of local knowledge. However bass can be caught but be prepared to work at it. They can show up anywhere.


Time of the day can also play a huge part and for most species the last few hours of daylight into dusk are often best. First light is similarly effective. Fishing on a night is also very effective . I would say you are maybe 5 times more likely to catch cod in winter in the dark than in the daylight especially if fishing on sand.

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Approaching a period of big spring tides also gives an advantage as does the state of the tide. The problem here is some places are definitely better near high water such as Bridlington’s South Pier (no water at all at low water) where as many rock places such as the end of Filey Brig are better near low water and many of the Holderness beaches (Bridlington to Spurn) often fish best around half tide. This is why it is so important to see when and where the locals are fishing and copy what they are doing (if they are catching!!!!).

Fish you might catch

A few generalities about the Yorkshire Coast but remember that fish do not read text books so fish often break the “rules” and anyway different marks have different “rules”.

SpeciesTime of yearWhereHow
CodAlmost all yearRocky and kelpy ground but on sand in winter at timesCrab is usually best on rock but other baits such as worm mussel,squid and razorfish will often catch as a big cocktail bait. Big black lugworm (locally called gullies) is by far the best bait on sand in winter.l
BassJune to SeptemberRock or sand in areas where bass are caughtSome use plugs if the water is reasonably clear but bait also works and remember bass will happily feed in a foot of water. It does not have to be deep. Dawn and dusk are the best bet.
MackerelJune to SepemberDeep water such as piers, harbour walls and Filey Brigg,Spinners such as a dexter wedge or use a string of feathers. I find the small Hokkais outfish ordinary feathers maybe 5 to 1.
Thornback raysSummer and AutumnHolderness beaches, anywhere from Bridlington North beach to spurn.Fish baits but worm crab and squid will also catch.
DabsAlmost all yearSand Almost all baits, maybe worm my favourite and if a little smelly, fine. A lovely tasting fish to eat, related to lemon sole. Use approriate sized small hooks.
WhitingWinter bestSandAlmost all baits, maybe fish baits best. After dark better as well.
CoalfishAll yearOn or near rocks.Spinners such as dexter wedges or feathers, shads and sandeels but also more traditional baits
PollackJuly to SeptemberRough rockAlmost all baits but they go for spinners and feathers as well.
WrasseJune to NovemberRough rockAlmost all baits but I would bet on a worm and squid cocktail.

Safety when fishing

Safety should always be at the forefront of your mind when near the sea and cliffs. Accidents are not common but can be fatal (41 drowned in 6 years in the UK while shore angling, usually swept off rocks). Local knowledge is invaluable. Some venues are far more dangerous than others but ultimately it is your responsibility to think about possibilities and to take appropriate measures to reduce risk, including just not fishing a particular mark on a particular day. The MCA is suggesting you should always wear a lifejacket when rock fishing.
Filey Brigg is one of many places on the Yorkshire Coast which can catch out the unwary. Deep water close to the shore allows very large waves to suddenly rear up and suck you off the rocks. I know of one angler who was but was wearing a full buoyancy suit (keep you warm as well), as many winter anglers do, and so was OK. There are also many places on the Yorkshire Coast where you can get cut off.

Popular rock marks on the Yorkshire Coast ( all need care)

  • Filey Brig. Many places give access to quite deep water around the back of the Brig and can be fished at all states of the tide although you are likely to do better on the tide coming in. You will be cut off at high water unless you are happy climbing a vertical iron ladder.
  • Flamborough. There are many places to fish here both off the cliff tops and in the bays and coves. Some have difficult access involving climbs, long walks and vertical drops near where you are fishing. South Landing at the Bridlington side and the rocks under Speeton are maybe the easiest to fish. At either of these you can choose to fish onto rock or sand depending where you go.
  • Scarborough in front of the Sealife centre at Scalby. When the tide is in you can fish off the sea wall but maybe not ona busy day.
  • North of Scarborough. There are too many rock marks all the way along the coast from Filey to Staithes to list here. The Whitby Sea Anglers  web site has many useful tips and fishing marks and is well worth trawling through when planning a fishing trip anywhere on the Yorkshire Coast. It really is a brilliant site with good information especially if you are after cod or bass. There is also the Holderness coast fishing forum which concentrates on the beaches to the south of Bridlington. Be sure to read some of the recent forum entries as well. They may give clues as to where is fishing well.  They are both huge sites with plenty of photos. Some articles even showing marks. Photorecce has some useful photos and information on a few of the best known shore angling sites along the Yorkshire coast.

Boat fishing trips

Boat fishing trips are available on the Yorkshire Coast  from Whitby, Scarborough, Flamborough and Bridlington.
Flamborough has the shortest trip to the fishing grounds by far so if you want a short fishing trip by far the best place to go.  Bridlington has the calmest water  (if they stay in the bay for mackerel, flatfish or skate) so a trip is very unlikely to be cancelled because of bad weather. Whitby has some of the best deep water fishing grounds and so they do still get some remarkable catches.

Small boat launching sites on the Yorkshire Coast

Both Whitby and Scarborough Harbour have launch sites but you will have to sort parking our for both car and trailer. Filey has the coble landing and you can leave your trailer on the beach but the car still needs parking. Bridlington has a dedicated launch facility which is very good and includes a tractor launch and recovery. Very nice with no parking problems but it is quite pricey. Hornsea has a similar system. Best to check before you turn up at any of these places. Some have restrictions of what you can do (eg no speedboats or jet skis at Filey) or the times you can use the facility (eg Bridlington has set opening times.) They also change their conditions from time to time.

Angling Shops

There are proper tackle shops in Hornsea, Bridlington, Scarborough (2) and  Whitby which sell bait but there are also other seafront shops which stock basic requirements and sometimes even bait. In Bridlington the marina shop  on the harbour sells a lot of fishing tackle as does the kiosk opposite which also usually has fresh bait often worms. Both very handy if you are fishing Bridlington’s north and south pier. In Filey Household Stores on Belle Vue street does sell some fishing tackle.