Here are brief details of the main types of sea fish caught in Scotland.
Less edible fish
Lesser Spotted Dogfish: Abundant around the coast this mini shark has a very rough skin when rubbed from tail to head. Known locally as LSDs, Doggies, or Blin' Lizzies this fish is always keen to take a bait. It's possible to catch dozens of these fish, where they won't give other fish a chance to pick up your baited hook.
Bull Huss (or Greater Spotted Dogfish): This is similar to the LSD but grows to over 20lbs. They have an incredible knack of spitting out a hook just as you think you have it beaten. This fish can be caught from the shore and boat, prolific around the south west of Scotland.
Spur Dogfish: Smaller member of the shark family, with 2 spines on its back to be careful of. This aggressive feeder will take fish, squid and crab baits. They are known to patrol in packs, and will follow a hooked fish up to the boat. They can be targeted from the shore around the west coast sea lochs.
Conger Eel: This fish will test most anglers, a powerful fighter with a bite to match. They can grow to over 100lbs. Boat anglers should look for wrecks for the best chance of a big fish, while shore anglers can find Congers in the rough ground marks and around piers and harbours.
Common Eel: Silver or Fresh water eel can be caught in estuaries where they look to feed on peeler crabs. Often caught by anglers fishing for flounders.
Flounder: Flatfish, common in river estuaries and sandy beaches. A 2lb fish would be considered as a specimen. Good fun on light tackle. They can be found from early spring, through most of the winter. Try peeler crab or worm baits for best results.
Common Skate: These fish can grow to over 200lbs. Best targeted from the boat. They range from the Western Isles right round the north of Scotland. Charter boats operate Skate fishing trips into the deeper channels. There is a very successful conservation effort ongoing with almost every Skate caught being tagged and released.
Tope: A true member of the shark family, this fish can strip line from your reel at an alarming pace. Best targeted from the boat, however they can be caught from the shore in certain locations.
Bass: Showing all around the country from estuaries and open beaches (and power station outfalls). Very powerful fish, can be caught very close to the shoreline. Try spinning or plugging, best baits are peeler crab or ragworm.
Cod: Resident fish around the coast tend to be smaller with the bigger fish appearing in autumn and winter. Double figure fish are caught each year from shore marks. Boat fishing on the east coast in summer can produce good bags of fish to crab and mussel baits.
Coalfish (or Coley): Bigger fish are found over the many wrecks in early spring and can be caught with feathers or fish strips. Smaller fish are caught right round the coast throughout the year.
Dab: Small flatfish, found over clean sandy bottom marks. These fish don't grow very big, with a fish over 1lb classed as a specimen. Can often be caught two and three at a time.
Haddock: Distinct thumb print mark on flank behind the head. Larger fish can be found around the western islands and around the north of Scotland. Boat fishing offers the best chance of landing a good fish.
Hake: Elusive predator found in deeper water, can be caught from the boats operating out of the northern ports and along the western sea lochs. Sleek bodied fish with a mouthful of sharp teeth.
Ling: Ferocious predator who prefers wrecks and rough ground. Boat anglers are more likely to catch ling while fishing for Cod or Conger. They have an eel like shape, but are related to the Cod family. Try baited Pirks from the boat.
Mackerel: These 'turbo charged' fish appear in summer in large shoals around most of the coastline and offer great fun on light tackle. They are beautifully marked with blue, green, and silver flashes. Mackerel make great bait for many other species and are often the first fish caught by youngsters new to sea fishing.
Plaice: These flatfish have bright orange spots on the darker top side. They appear around the coast from early spring and into summer looking to feed on the abundance of crabs ready to moult their shell (peeler crabs). Look for shingle or sandy bottoms where the plaice will rummage around for their next meal
Pollack: Try spinning sand eels or float fishing rag worm for this hard fighting fish. The large eyes indicate that this fish hunts by sight and will ambush small fish from the cover of the reefs or rocks close to the shore. These fish grow to double figures. Boat anglers can target them over the many reefs and wrecks.
Thornback Ray: As the name suggests, this fish is armed with small 'thorns' over the back and down the length of the tail, take care when handling them. Double figure specimens are found around the west coast of Scotland, and in particular in the deep sea lochs from both boat and shore.
Whiting: These little fish are found around our coast from autumn through the winter. They are tenacious feeders, taking most baits. Fish over a 1lb can be taken from the shore, but Boat anglers have a chance of better size fish.
All images courtesy of
© Sea Fish Industry Authority