Rock Fishing

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Rock Fishing

Cod Fishing From The Rocks

Rock fishing is just another type of fishing. It’s nothing special and can be mastered by all anglers, all that’s needed is time and a willingness to learn the art of rock fishing. Over time the rock angler will learn what areas will hold cod and at what states of tide cod are likely to turn up.

Rock anglers start to learn their marks by fishing lots of different rocky areas including: small reefs that run into or parallel to the shore, patches of big boulders, rock ledges like fingers that extend out into the sea and are surrounded by deep kelp filled gullies.

Also worth a try are the ends of rocky headlands that extend out into sea  such as those at Robin hoods bay, Marine drive in Scarborough, Filey Brigg and Ravenscar where a strong tidal current forms. Food gets washed past these areas and so you often find the north east coast cod sat waiting.

rock fishing

Andy Barmby Rock Fishing At Gristhorpe

Conditions For Rock Fishing

Most of the time rough seas stirred by Autumn and winter storms can give the best fishing. The big sea swells created by strong winds disturb the sea bed and dislodge crabs, peelers, razor fish  and lug and rag  worms from their homes providing the north east coast cod with a banquet opportunity. Although cod are often caught during daylight hours through the winter especially when storms colour up the water, by far the optimum time for winter cod fishing is during the hours of darkness. Anglers often wear headlamps to allow them to see what they are doing during a winters night cod fishing session.

Occasionally and especially in summertime flat calm seas and bright sunlit days give the best conditions for north east coast rock fishing for cod. On the winter spring tides many north east rock anglers also say that they prefer a flat calm sea with the movement of the tide stirring the seabed rather than sea swells. Some say that big tides and big seas often make for poor rock fishing for cod on the north east coast


Clear Water And Calm Seas – Perfect For Summer Cod Fishing

The big channels of the local estuaries such as the Humber, Tyne and Tees can also be good for cod fishing. Also don’t forget the many piers and cliffs (Eg Bempton cliffs) that are found on the north east coast of England. Many a big north east coast cod has been hauled up the side of a pier or a cliff on a cold winters night. In fact cliff fishing is one of the best ways to catch cod on the Yorkshire coast. My good friend Bernado Vasey springs instantly to mind with his 20 pound cod caught from Whitby’s east pier not so many years ago.

Winter Signifies The Start Of The Main Cod Fishing Season.

winter cod fishing on the north eaST COASTAs already stated cod can be caught at any time of year from the rocks on the north east coast of England. However the start of the main rock fishing for cod season usually coincides with the first winter storms sometime around the autumn equinox in September. The north east coast rock fishing season is usually at its peak by Christmas with numbers of cod tailing off through January and February. However this does not signal the end of  cod season here in the north east as perseverance at this time of year often pays a dividend with the bigger double figure cod coming closer to the shore to spawn during the back end of the winter cod fishing season. A spring run of small cod sometimes occurs along the north east coast during April and may with places like Robin hoods bay long hole, Filey Brigg and spurn point being the favoured venues for a few small codlings.

rough sea in winter

Moderately Rough Seas Are Excellent For Winter Cod Fishing – Avoid The Very Rough Days Though As It Can Be Very Dangerous

Tides For Rock Fishing.

Although many anglers swear that the big spring tides provide them with the best  fishing I would say that a true rock angler should be able to catch cod at any state of tide on both the spring and neap tides. My personal best bag of codlings came at low tide during the smallest of the neap tides. If you fish hard and learn your venues then you’ll soon find a fishing venue for most tide and sea state.


Andy Barmby With A Nice Cod From the Rocks

Rock Fishing And The Weather.

With regards to Weather I would say that the cod like it rough. However I would not normally venture out rock fishing for cod on the very roughest of nights. In my opinion it is far better to wait until the sea starts to settle after a big storm Dieing seas are said to offer the best conditions for the rock angler.

Best conditions for catching cod at Whitby and the surrounding Yorkshire coast are provided by on shore winds from a North, North west, north east, south east, or Easterly direction. These winds stir up the sea and dislodge crabs and worms from their home on the sea bed giving the fish something to come to the shore for.

Onshore winds also colour up the sea water which gives the cod the confidence to come to the shore in search of food during daylight hours. Many Rock anglers swear that the secret to good cod fishing is water colour more so than sea swell and I have to admit that there are fishing venues I would walk away from if I saw there was no colour in the water.

How Far To Cast When Rock Fishing For Cod.

Although many would have you believe that you need to cast a long way to catch cod I think that this is certainly not the case on the north east coast. I’ve had many big fish in only a few feet of water sometimes fishing no more than 20 yards from where I’m stood. Although being a good caster can sometimes find you a fish or 2 if the cod are feeding at distance it is not essential to be a good caster to catch cod.

rock angling - rock anglers

What Tackle For Rock Fishing For Cod

With regards to tackle a strong beach casting rod like those made by greys , centuary, or Zziplex are required to cast heavy 5-6 ounce leads out into the north sea in the worst of winter weather. It is advisable to go for a strong multiplier reel capable of holding at least 200 yards of 30 pound line. I would advise using the reels made by abu (7000c and 7500 c3 ct), Penn (525 super mag, 535) and Daiwa (slosh 20 or slosh 30). Click Here For More Rock Fishing Tackle Information

Rigs For Rock Fishing

Your fishing rigs for cod fishing on the north east coast should be simple and often a single hook paternoster or pulley rig with 5° hook will do the trick. Rotten bottoms are essential to ensure that you can retrieve your fishing rigs and cod if your lead becomes fast in the kelp. A 5 our six ounce plain or grip lead is then used to ensure to ensure your rig stays on the sea bed.

Rock Fishing For Cod – Best Baits

There are many many baits for rock fishing on the north east coast and the best ones include: Peeler crab, Lugworm, ragworm, mussel, white ragworm, squid and hermit crab. If your targeting the small north east coast cod then sometimes a single lugworm on a 3 or 4° hook will do the trick. If its the big lunker cod your after then the old saying a big bait for a big fish often holds a lot of truth. A big ball of mussel or a large cocktail bait of peeler, lug, mussel and squid can often sort out those better fish.

peeler crabs

Peeler Crabs, An Excellent Bait For Rock Fishing

Rock Fishing Marks

There are thousands of rock fishing marks on the north east coast. Some are easily accessed others are for the more adventurous and involve access by rope. To read about rock fishing marks please click here.

How Far To Go To Catch A Fish ??

Rock fishing can be as easy or as difficult as you wish to make it. Just like any sport, there are extremes. Some anglers may choose to sit comfortable on piers all night, whilst others will decend huge cliffs on ropes. Obviously this is quite dangerous (but then again so is riding a fast motorbike).

cliff fishing

Rock Fishing Easy Or Difficult – Just Ensure Your Safe And Enjoy Your Sport

If you weigh up the risks and take the right safety precautions you can take the sport of rock fishing as far as you wish. This topic in our forum outlines just how far some people are willing to go to take their sport to the max.  Another interesting topic being this one about cliff fishing at Bempton. Whatever you do, please enjoy your fishing and make sure you stay safe.

Rock Fishing Safety

he Coastguards Health And Safety Publication Is Available Here :

Angling from the shore in the UK is very hazardous to say the least. Every year lives are lost whilst pursuing our fascination with sea angling. Anglers of all levels of ability need to be very very careful indeed – having fallen badly myself last year I’m as aware as anyone of the dangers of rock fishing. At this point I would like to offer a few words of advice to anglers.

  • Never attempt to fish a new area without the help and advice of someone experienced in fishing that area.
  • Always check the tide and ensure you will be safe to access and exit your chosen area. Watch out for cut off points. If unsure don’t go. Its not worth it.
  • Be aware of the weather forecast. Conditions can change fast.
  • Don’t access closed areas, eg piers whilst the storm gates are shut.
  • Carry some form of communication.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you intend to return. Ask them to raise the alarm should you not return.
  • Do not fish heavy seas. Its very dangerous and your wasting your time anyway, fish don’t like really rough seas. Leave it a day or 2 until the sea is dieing.
By | 2018-03-23T08:50:06+00:00 August 21st, 2012|Cod Fishing, Featured, Sea Fishing Tips And Advive|4 Comments

About the Author:

Site Administrator Glenn Kilpatrick has a passion for all types of sea angling. Past winner of the Whitby Sea Anglers fishing club on 2 occasions, Glenn now mainly focuses on summer fishing with bass and pollack being his favoured target fish. Glenn now also prefers Kayak Fishing over any other type of Sea Fishing.


  1. paul cowley August 24, 2011 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    are you bloody mad. my god you must love fishing

  2. tibor October 18, 2011 at 10:35 am - Reply

    hello i am just triyng to find where to go sea fishing ass i never been before and dont know any good places. Could you please tell me where in south east are good fishing places?

    thank you Tibor

  3. Ian Craven June 17, 2012 at 8:51 am - Reply

    Hi I am just wanting to start up shore fishing I live in West Yorkshire around Leeds area and any advice on Where and how and any permits required I would be very helpful thankyou

  4. jamie March 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    hi can anyone help me out i am looking for a bait shop in yorkshire that sell live white rags-black lugs etc if you know any please leave a message on here and i will get it cheers mackie happy fishing

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