Spring (March, April, May)

Spring can be a quiet time around some parts of the UK for sea fishing, as many of the winter species will have left and the summer species will yet to arrive. Spring can be seen as a transitional time as many of the species which have migrated away from the UK for the winter will begin to come back – plaice arrive in many parts of the UK in later spring, and mackerel, sprats, sandeels and garfish may start arriving. Other species such as pollock and wrasse are present throughout the year but spend the colder months in deeper, offshore waters where they are mostly out of range of the shore angler. Once the seas start warming up they will begin to come back into shallower waters and can be targeted by anglers. Silver eels can also be caught around estuaries and rivers during this time due to their migration patterns. Some parts of the UK see an upturn in cod fishing during the ‘spring run’ – the process of cod fattening themselves up before moving off for their migration to colder Scandinavian and Nordic waters.

Summer (June, July, August)

The mixing of warmer seas and the influx of sprats and mackerel makes the summertime one of the busiest for UK anglers. Mackerel follow the sprats, and by summer the mackerel and garfish season is here. Many people use spinners, feathers and daylights to catch these species. Other predatory species such as bass and larger pollock, spend the colder months in deeper water and then during summer they will come within range for shore anglers, as they feed on sprats, sandeels and smaller mackerel. Wrasse is another species which spends winter offshore and is caught in its highest numbers in the summer months, with the same being said for gurnard, mullet and the venomous weever fish. Summer can also be the best time to catch a large species from the shore, as this is the time that conger eels feed closer to the shore, and species such as smooth-hound, tope and ray are most commonly caught off shore. Semi-migratory species such as cod may be present over the summer – mainly in the North East of England and Scotland. However, only boat anglers can access the larger cod in the warmer months. Whiting are similar to cod in their seasonal variations. Plaice remain in British waters throughout early to mid summer. Summer represents the best time to fish for large and relatively rare flatfish species such as turbot. Summer is also the time when anglers are in with the best chance of catching something very rare indeed such as a rare bream species (white, Pandora or gilt-head), a triggerfish, blue runner or a John Dory – although more likely around the south of the UK, particularly the south west of England.

Autumn (September, October, November)

Early autumn can provide the best of both worlds for anglers, as many of the summer species are still present, with the winter species potentially arriving early as well. Larger species such as conger eels, smooth-hound and thornback ray will still be present, and the same is true for large bass, pollock and wrasse. As autumn goes on these species will begin to thin out and will be replaced by the larger mature cod. Whiting are also beginning to arrive and the colder water flatfish such as dab and flounder, will certainly be around.

Winter (December, January, February)

The winter is cod fishing season in many parts of the UK. Whiting are often caught alongside the cod. Whiting can provide good, solid sport when the cod are not biting. Flatfish such as flounder and dab are likely to remain steady and coalfish will also take bottom fished baits. Other smaller fish which are non-migratory such as three-bearded rockling and pouting will also turn up in catches around the UK in winter. As winter turns into spring many species head away to spawn, and we reach the quiet period, described at the top of this article.

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