Sea & Beach Fishing FAQs - Everything You Need to Know About Sea Angling

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Sea & Beach Fishing FAQs - Everything You Need to Know About Sea Angling

Have you recently picked up sea fishing and have some burning questions about the hobby? In this guide Angling Direct will be answering all the common questions surrounding the laws, licences, tides and seasonal information on sea and beach fishing.

Sea Fishing Laws

What are the rules around Catch and Release for Sea Species in the UK?

Sea anglers should be aware that it is an offence to take/keep fish that are below the minimum size and anglers caught doing this can face prosecution. To know which fish to release and what size to keep check Sea Angler’s Size limit chart or your local government rules. 


Can you fish in international waters?     

All coastal nations have jurisdiction over their own natural resources (fish) that extends up to 200 miles off their shores. With this in mind, if you fish in their region, you must follow all of the region’s fishing laws surrounding licenses, set catch limits, or even a ban of fishing altogether.


Which country catches the most fish in the world?

According to Official Statistics, China has the highest rates of catch and consumptions of fish in the world for the past decade.


Is it illegal to fish on a Sunday in Scotland?

In order to preserve migratory fish (salmon and sea trout), it is a criminal offence in Scotland to fish for salmon and sea trout on Sundays. Nevertheless, freshwater (trout and coarse) fishing is allowed on Sundays (in contrast to migratory fish).


Sea Fishing Licences


Can you fish without a license UK?          

You can only fish in the UK without a licence if you are a child (check age) or are fishing a shoreline or a tidal stretch of river for saltwater species, with sea fishing tactics.


Do I need a Licence for Sea Fishing in the UK?

Anglers who are fishing from the shore into the sea will not require a fishing license, however, it is still worth checking with other local anglers just in case. If you are fishing saltwater stretches of the inland river close to the river mouth then there is a chance you may require a fishing license.


Do I need a Sea Fishing Boat licence in the UK?

According to .GOV, you only need a vessel licence if you plan to sell any of the fish that you catch and land (even if you only sell the excess to your friends). Sea fish caught and kept for personal use must meet size limitations for the UK do not need a license.


Do you need a fishing license in Scotland?

According to Official Government Sites, you do not need a licence to fish with rod and line anywhere in Scotland apart from in the Border Esk region.


Sea Fishing & Tide Forecasts


What is the best tide for sea fishing?

Try to target around an hour on either side of high tide on your chosen location as this is generally the optimum time to catch fish. For this reason, it is worth checking tide times for your location. 


Can you Sea fish at low tide?      

Yes. If you fish from the shoreline at low tide on sloping beaching you can walk out further on the shingle and are therefore more likely to cast into deeper water.


Where do fish go during low tide?

Some shallower sloping beaches provide the best fishing at low tide.


Is it better to fish low tide or high?

Some rock marks are better fished at low tide, whilst rock ledges and cliffs can be better to fish at high tide. Most anglers recommend fishing at rising or flooding tide.


Is Surf fishing better at high tide?

Although the high tide is better, try not to fish at the highest peak of the tide. Fish either an hour before or an hour after the highest tide for shore fishing.


Is it bad to fish at low tide?        

At more venues and fishing marks, yes. Fishing at low tide means that there would be fewer fish species for you to catch so aim to fish on rising / moving tides.


Is incoming or outgoing tide better for fishing?

An incoming tide, or rising tide, is considered one of the best fishing tide times as fish will begin to patrol the area for food.


Beach Fishing Seasons & Times


What is the best time to fish?

In most cases, beginner anglers will stick to good weather, early morning or late evenings for shore fishing but this completely depends on your location, offshore or surf fishing, tactics and what species you are targeting. Once you know all that, speak to local anglers, either on the beach or through the internet.


What is the best time to fish off a pier?

Many species will swim around the supports of the pier looking for food during calm conditions and weak tides.


What is the best time for surf fishing/ beach fishing?

Look to beach fish either 2 hours before sun rise or 2 hours after sunset, this is when fish is plentiful.


When is the best time to go sea fishing for bass?

Bass can feed well during a strong tidal flow. Like most species they fish 2 hours before dawn or 2 hours after dusk


What is the best time to go saltwater fishing?

In regards to the time of year, Autumn is the best time to go saltwater fishing. It offers the overlap of summer species and migrating winter species. Spring is often viewed as the worst time and this is when fewer bites happen from most species.


Sea Fishing & Locations


Where is the best sea fishing in the UK?

Depending on the species you are chasing and tactics you employ, this answer will be different. Most anglers find most opportunities towards the southern coasts of England, especially the southeast where the English Channel and the Celtic Sea meet. View all sea fishing locations in the UK in our dedicated guides. Part 1 & Part 2.


Can you catch fish from the beach?

As one of the most popular destinations to fish, beaches offer anglers a range of species to land.


What is the largest fishing port in the UK?

Peterhead in northeast Scotland is Britain's largest fishing port.


How do you catch big fish on a pier?

The most common forms of fishing from a pier are feathering, spinning and float fishing. Get some attractive bait, fish near to the structure and bring a drop net for big fish caught on piers.


Where should I look for fish when Sea Fishing?

As with all fish, look for some form of structure that is likely to be a holding area for smaller fish and therefore larger predatory fishing will be visiting. Head to piers, rocks, river mouths, gullies in the surf and of course harbours (where fishing is allowed); those fish won't be far away. It is worth noting to be cautious when fishing from rocks. It is a good idea to head to the shore with someone and always face the sea!


Sea Fishing Species Questions


What fish can you catch from the beach?            

Common fish caught from the shoreline are; species of flatfish (flounder, plaice, dab and sole), ray species (thornback rays, blonde ray, small-eyed ray and stingray),  cod, bass, pouting, whiting and silver eels.


Where is most cod caught?

Cod are found all around the UK, on sandy and shingle beaches, mixed and broken ground, and the roughest and rockiest of marks, although being a cold-water species they are more common around in the autumn and winter.


Sea Fishing Tackle Questions


What is the best sinker for surf fishing?

Most anglers use a 2 - 4oz pyramid or sputnik sinker during normal water conditions but when surf fishing high and strong tides get a heavier sinker.


What size hooks for sea fishing?

Generally, sea fishing hooks should be sized 1/0 - 2/0 as these cover a range of species. Remember the bigger the fish, the bigger the hook. More information on hook sizes can be found in our dedicated blog.


What is the best saltwater fishing hooks?

After selecting your ideal hook size, opt for branded hooks of the likes of Eagle Claw and Mustad that offer hooks less likely to corrode. Opt for a short shank when the most strength is required.


What kind of fishing rod do I need for saltwater?

The best beach rods include; beach caster rods or surf rods.  These offer both lightness and the most leverage.


How do you rig for beach fishing?

When it comes to rigs there is no need to over complicate it, you can either stick to a simple float or a running ledger rig, along with a choice of fresh fish baits or rag and lugworm. Even simpler, you could maybe even use bread, or buy yourself one of many pre-tied rigs and simply clip on a lead, add some bait and away you go!


Can you float fish in the sea?

Yes, although it is best to float fish in mid-water or by some rock marks.


Sea Fishing Bait Questions


Can you use worms to fish in saltwater?

Marine worms are a great bait for many saltwater species. Earthworm baits can and will be used to attract sea species that travel and migrate up rivers, closer to freshwater.


What is the best lure for surf fishing?

Anglers will find success using sea fishing spinners, feathers, daylights, jelly lures or plugs when surf fishing.


Is bacon good for sea fishing?

Bacon can be a great sea fishing bait but only for short-range fishing. Many anglers find better success with more traditional baits.


What's the best bait to catch flounder?

Most flounder will take worms, prawns, crustaceans and molluscs which can be purchased fresh from tackle shops or captured yourself at some shorelines.


That is it for all the Sea Fishing FAQs but if you have more question or are seeking more advice surround sea fishing, check out other sea fishing related guides on the AD Blog.

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