Sandsend Cliffs – Early Season Cod

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Sandsend Cliffs – Early Season Cod

The cliffs at Sandsend are a very popular mark for the Yorkshire coast sea anglers. Found just to the north side of Sandsend and easily accessible via steps from the car park the cliffs offer a multitude of fishing platforms suitable to every state of tide.

sandsend cliffs

The ever popular bernies ledge, covered in winter snows

The fishing here is largely for winter cod, although bass, pollack and red cod are certainly on the agenda through the summer months.

The Ranges, A Largely Underfished Mark.

As you head up the steps from the car park and along the old railway lines which now act as a footpath, the first marks you come to are known by the locals as the ranges. These set of marks start at the railings which can be found at the back of the sewer hole below. They stretch through the trees up towards the mark known as “High Cliff”. The ranges offers fishing onto clean slate and only a slight to moderate swell is required here to encourage coalies, codling and bass to feed. One of the best conditions for this mark is a slight to moderate south easterly when you will find the fish happy to take peeler crabs, and peeler cocktail baits.

The Ranges, clean ground fishing. Please be careful here.

High Cliff

High cliff is known largely as a high tide mark, although those in the know will often tackle this very popular mark at other stages of tide. The fishing here is onto slightly rougher ground than the ranges, with boulder at the base of the cliff giving way to a nice mix of smaller rocks and areas covered in wrack weed. This type of ground gives perfect cover to the hunting cod and explains why this mark can produce good bags in both the day and nightime.

High cliff can fish well right through the winter and the period around Christmas time often brings stories of big cod too heavy to lift out of the water. This mark will handle a moderate sea swell with ease. Best baits once again are peeler or peeler cocktails.

sandsend cliffs

High Cliff – Rough Ground Fishing For Cod

The Rabbit Holes

The rabbit holes is a much talked about mark and appears to be everyones favourite. Although this mark does produce good bags of fish I have found it to be no better or worse than any other mark on the cliffs and it does require a degree of knowledge to get the best out of it.

The mark itself is a very long ledge which runs almost into the next mark known as “Top Of The World”. The ground underneath varies and the prevailing conditions really dictate which area of the ledge is best to fish from. At the Sandsend end of the mark fishing involves casting into a slight depression in the scar where fish will often run through at various states of tide, the ground here is slightly heavier with rocks and wrack weed in the gulley. As you head further towards top of the world, the mark rises up onto a cleaner slate scar, but don’t be put off by this as cod, bass and coalies will happily feed on this area under the right conditions.

The Top Of The World

This mark is the highest at Sandsend and thus gets its name – “The Top Of The World”. The ground here is heavy with large boulders, ledges and thick kelp in abundance. The mark fishes best on flat calm seas over a big high tide and into the ebb. Any cross wind will cause you problems rendering the mark almost unfishable.

Fish can be found at all distances and favourite baits are of course peeler or peeler cocktails.

Top Of The World, Sandsends Highest Mark

Bernies Ledge

Named after local angler Bernard Stebbing, another popular mark is Bernies ledge which runs for roughly 200 yards from the far side of top of the world. The ledge gives good fishing over high water. Again many anglers in the know will also tackle this mark at other stages of tide. The fishing is onto heavy ground with a nice mix of large rocks and wrack weed. Just out of casting range is a rather nice kelp bed which allows the fish to hold up and then move inside when the time is right to feed.

Down Below

At the base of the cliffs are several marks, some are for high tide fishing and some are only accessible for low water fishing. These marks include “The Sewer Hole”, “The Shotstones”, “Ninty Cock Rock”, “Pennock Nab” and “Boiler Scar”.

The Sewer Hole

A relatively underfished mark is the sewer hole. Under the right conditions this venue can be prolific with good bags of cod, coalies and bass on offer. The sewer hole can be accessed direct from the car park around low water, or via the shotstones which involves a climb down the cliffs (Not for the feint hearted).


Sewer Hole Sandsend, An Often Overlooked Mark

The sewer hole offers mixed ground fishing with rock, slate, kelp and sand all close by. Hit this mark at the right time and you can be in for a very pleasant surprise.


The shotstones can be found at the base of the cliff between the ranges and high cliff. The ground varies dependent on where you cast with clean slate or a mix of rocks and wrack weed available at close range. Once again the shotstones is often overlooked, but on the right conditions this mark can be dynamite.

The Shotstones, A Dynamite Mark On The Right Day

The Shotstones, A Dynamite Mark On The Right Day

The Goat Track

How to find the goat track – Click Here

At the far end of the cliffs near Sandsend tunnel is a track to the base of the cliffs known locally as the goat track. The get down is a little difficult although it has been made somewhat easier of late by Lord Normanby (The land owner) who has fitted steps down through the path.

The goat track, easier now with the introduction of steps, but still requires a decent level of fitness

The marks at the bottom of the goat track include : Ninty Cock area which is a gulley running right into the base of the goat track. Fishing here is good right through the flood tide with high water often producing the big fish especially with a decent northerly running. This runner will fish well in all but the heaviest of conditions.

To the left of Ninty cock and only accessible on a large ebb tide is the mark known as “Pennock Nab“. The fishing here is into one of the heaviest kelp beds I have ever seen and precision casting is required to hit a very small clean patch of ground in the middle of the kelp. Any wayward casts or strong winds most often result in lost gear. The mark can be very productive in calm conditions but be prepared for tackle losses.

Pennock Nab, fishing into very rough ground

The scars at the base of the cliff and to the left of pennock nab can produce good fishing at times with the fish eager to leave the kelp around pennock nab and run up onto the cleaner ground in search of crabs and other bait. This area and uptowards the boiler scar requires a decent colour and slight swell to produce the best results.

Boiler scar, cleaner ground but fish will run here at times.

Health and safety

The 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.

And Finally

Just to wet your appetite, here’s some I caught earlier.

11 Codlings From Sandsend In 2009

Read Forum Topics About Fishing At Sandsend

Sandsend Cliffs Gallery

So you enjoyed our guide to Sandsend Cliffs. It took 2 hours to write, 2 hours to photograph and a lifetime to research. Please consider a donation to the site running costs by hitting the donate button below.

By | 2018-03-23T08:48:41+00:00 September 30th, 2014|Marks|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.


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  2. Biscuitlad August 31, 2010 at 8:20 am - Reply

    Fantastic guide Glenn – really showing your local knowledge that few others have.

  3. pete catchpole January 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    thanks for a fantastic report on the sandsend marks ,i fished the rabbit holes regularly 20 yrs ago ,once catching 22 cod on 1 night tide in december ,even a 4lb bass on black lug the same snowy night ,the bass was around in those days although a better kept secret ,i cant wait to bet back into it ,thanks for getting me started again ,cheers pete

  4. James Hall December 22, 2015 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    I am writing a feature for Outdoor Life Magazine and would love to interview a cliff angler. The story is about extreme fishing … and it seems you have that base covered. Please let me know who, how and when to call for a short interview.

    James Hall

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