Are you new to the sport of sea fishing or looking to increase your angling knowledge? If so then we have some guides to help you. Listed below are some of the popular fish species with hints and tips on how to catch them by VMO. The banners above will guide you to more information on starting out on your sea fishing from both boat and shore.
We hope you find this informative and that it helps you to catch more fish.

How to catch cod

How to catch cod

Probably the most popular fish to target for the UK angler. Although a prime eating fish, they are not known for their fighting prowess. Shore caught fish average at around 3 or 4lb, though a larger example is possible in many regions. Boat caught fish tend to weigh around 8-15lb but again, it is not uncommon for fish in excess of 30lb to feature in the angling media. Fish of between a pound and 6lb are generally referred to as codling.

BEST PLACES TO FISH FOR COD
Noted cod grounds ashore and afloat include the Bristol Channel, Plymouths river Tamar, Dorset's Chesil Beach, and numerous locations across the south coast including the legendary Dungeness point in Kent.
The Bristol Channel cod fishing is perhaps the most consistent in the country (the VMO boy's have done particularly well here!) while the deep water grounds around the Isle of Wite produce some enormous fish every winter to a few lucky boat anglers. The Kent and Sussex coast's have also historically produced big numbers of cod.

BEST TIME TO FISH FOR COD
January to December in the North and October to February in the South are the prime times to try sea fishing for cod. The severity of the weather including unseasonal changes can have a huge impact on the arrival of cod in some area's. Shore anglers in the north can catch cod all year round, but in the south, smaller cod are considered a winter species and anticipated with much excitement.

A COD'S DIET AND BEST COD BAITS
Cod feed on molluscs, crabs, worms, squid, starfish, and other small fish. It is worth noting that regionally, a fish may focus on one bait in particular and show a noticeable lack of interest towards any other bait. Lugworm, prawns, peeler crab and squid are generally the most productive baits ashore and afloat. A small live fish will often account for a large cod. Artificial lures such as Sidewinders can be deadly for cod fishing on the drift during the summer months when south coast anglers will head for the mid channel wrecks when the weather allows.

COD FISHING TIPS AND TACTICS
When fishing from the shore, often the key to catching cod is to find tide. This may involve casting a long way so the ability to do this can pay dividends. Casting instruction is available and a quick call to sea fishing clubs in your area will soon put you in touch with a local expert. Favoured shore fishing rigs include the pulley pennel such as the ready made Greys rig which ensures that a hooked fish steers the lead away form the sea bed and any potential line snags that would otherwise result in a lost fish. If boat fishing in a strong tide and relatively shallow water, the uptide method should be deployed that involves casting a short distance away from the 'scare area' of the boat where noise transmitted form those on board cannot potentially deter the fish. Deep water anglers should fish downtide with heavier tackle and fill their fishing reel with a 50lb braid such as Berkely Whiplash that will offer all the strength required to drag a fish up from the depths but at the same time retain a low diameter mainline that cuts through the tide. Huge baits on 8/0 Varivas Big Mouth Xtra hooks can be the key to finding the fish with multiple squid or cuttle fish baits a firm favourite. Patience is essential if targeting big cod as they are not as numerous as they once were.VMO

How to catch bass

How to catch bass

Also known as Sea Bass or European Bass to distinguish it from the other varieties of Bass found worldwide, Bass is one of the UK's most popular and sought after salt water fish and is found predominately along the south and west coasts of the UK and Ireland. Bass have two dorsal fins, the first showing sharp spines and it is capable of growing to over 1 m in length and weighing in excess of 15 kg. Bass have small, silvery-blue scales, which give it a beautiful shimmering appearance.

BEST PLACES TO FISH FOR BASS
Predominantly found across the southern half of the UK, the bass shows little preference for habitat with fish frequently caught from a wide range of ground including mud, sand, shale, mussel beds and reefs. Open coasts and estuaries, secluded bays and enclosed harbours could all be potential holding area's for bass.

BEST TIME TO FISH FOR BASS
The traditional bass fishing season begins in May and runs through to December with the largest fish often caught during the late autumn in most area's. In the west country, it is not unknown for bass to be present throughout the year if the weather remains mild.

BASS DIET AND BEST BASS BAITS
Bass feed predominantly on small fish, sandeels, crustaceans and marine worms. It is these exact baits that account for the majority of bass captures across the UK with the larger fish arguably falling for fish baits. Whole fish or the head and guts section of a mackerel can be devastating and if fished with patience could be responsible for a very big fish. Live sandeel baits fished alongside a bubble float on a light rod can provide some tremendous sport during the summer in the many south coast estuaries. Lure fishing for bass has become incredibly popular in recent times with patterns from companies such as Maria held in high regard.

BASS FISHING TIPS AND TACTICS
Bass can often be caught incredibly close to the sea shore where they patrol up and down hunting for small fish and crabs. A fish bait cast here can put you in with an excellent chance of making contact with the species. Night fishing can see the bass feed closer still as they move in shore to mop up discarded mackerel carcasses left by daytime feathering anglers. It is essential to fish in total darkness at such a time as any form of unnatural light will spook the fish and they will not return. Bass anglers afloat will see the best result when fishing a live bait on a long flowing trace. A circle hook such as the Varivas Full Circle will ensure that fish are hooked neatly in the side of the mouth meaning that the sporting angler can return their fish if so desired. The bass has recently been subject to new legislation with current restrictions meaning that shore and boat anglers can take one fish per 24 hours. If in doubt, check prior to fishing.VMO

How to catch thornback rays

How to catch thornback rays

Easily identifiable by the prominent thorns that run down the centre of the back and tail, the thornback ray favours open ground where it can easily camouflage itself by burrowing into the soft sand and mud. The mouth is positioned on the underside, allowing it to move over the sea bed and cover its selected food item before passing it through a set of grinding teeth, which are powerful enough to crush shells and molluscs. The eyes are set on the top side and it is thought that eyesight is very poor; instead the thornback relies on an internal radar system thought to be triggered by a form of electromagnetism and vibration. Directly behind the eyes are two holes which are breathing vents, or spiracles. Colouration of the body varies depending on the type of bottom the ray is living over. The adult thornback is usually a pale brownish-yellow and is coated in patchy black speckles. Towards the rear of the body and extending down the tail there will often be a brownish-red pigment to the skin. Thornbacks are found around the coast of the British Isles and Ireland and can grow to up to twenty pounds although fish landed on the coast are generally between five and ten pound. Boat caught fish are often landed up and around double figures.

Best Time To Fish For Thornback Ray
The noted time to try for a thornback ray is during a slack water period when the tide stops running. Day light can fish well provided the water is coloured but in clear water darkness can improve the catch rate.

Thornback Ray Diet And Best Thornback ray bait's
Thornback rays feed predominantly on small fish, sandeels, crabs, shrimps and prawns. Best baits include squid, peeler crab, mackerel, herring, bluey and king ragworms.

Thornback Ray Tips And Tactics
The pulley rig is probably the most effective rig for the shore based ray angler where as angles afloat will fare better with a simple running ledger. Hooks such as the Varivas Big Mouth in a size 4/0 are perfect to hold the baits mentioned above and will also hold a big fish in a running tide.VMO

How to catch conger eels

How to catch conger eels


The Conger eel is found all round the British Isles, and other Northern European coastlines. It prefers a rough sea bed, be it a reef or a wreck, in depths down to about 100m. It grows to a maximum of 3 meters long and about 250-350lb in weight. It is possible that even larger fish exist and have yet to be accounted for. These monsters are far from the norm though and a 20lb shore caught fish is thought to be a good specimen in many areas whereby boat anglers targeting conger regular account for fish of twice that size.

Best Time To Fish For Conger Eels
In depths of water less that 50ft, conger are generally nocturnal feeders only leaving the cover of their lair under the cover of darkness. In deeper water that can feed at any time. Neap tides and no moon are historically an excellent time to fish for conger with the winter months the best time to find a big fish.

A Conger Eel Diet And Best Conger Eel bait's
Conger are predatory and will hold up in their lair awaiting a passing fish. Creating a vacuum, they are able to suck in unwary small fish in the blink of an eye. They will also feed on squid and cuttle fish.

Conger Eel Tips And Tactics
Conger eels are extremely strong and demand tough tackle. Shore anglers specialising in conger use powerful rods and big reels loaded with 40lb mainline. Wire traces or heavy mono, such as the Varivas Game Fishing tournament Nylon, should be used to combat the savage teeth of the eel that will make short work of regular mono. Hooks need to be of a heavy gauge with the Mustad O'shaugnessy still a firm favourite. Although the initial bite of an eel can be very delicate, it will make up for this once hooked. It is essential to pump and wind the fish up and away from the sea bed as soon as possible to avoid it going to ground. if this happens it is unlikely it will come out. Boat anglers make the best catches over the many wrecks scattered across the sea bed of the English Channel. These wrecks can hold some enormous examples and again it is vital to winch the fish up away from the sea bed as fast as possible. Fresh pout, mackerel or pollack are all excellent baits. In some regions, cuttle fish can prove deadly. A large net or a gaff will be needed to extract the fish from the water. The latter should only be used by those experienced in their handling to avoid unnecessary damage or death to the eel.VMO

How to catch flounders

How to catch flounders

Common throughout UK and Irish waters, flounder thrive in shallow water often near to an influx of fresh water and favour clear sandy or muddy ground and can travel up rivers far into freshwater territory. The estuaries of the south west are famed for their flounder fishing and it is from the river Teign that the current British record fish was captured at 5lb 7oz.

Best Time To Fish For Flounder
During the winter months the larger fish move inshore to spawn. Very often they are one of the few fish to feed when the air temperature falls below zero. As the flooding tide makes it way into creeks and gullies, so the flounder will make its way in to feed, often in very shallow water. Fish can be caught in both daylight and darkness.

A Flounder Diet And Best Flounder Bait's
Small marine worms, shrimps and crabs make up the bulk of the flounder's diet. It is likely that the fish will be caught on whatever natural bait is present. Those area's densely populated by king ragworm will see the fish switched on to this and will feed almost exclusively on this source of food. In some area's, a peeler crab moult will see a feeding frenzy and again there will be little point offering an alternative on the hook. The use of attractors alongside the hook bait is a recognised practice and appeals to the flounders inquisitive nature.

Flounder Tips And Tactics
Flounder have very small mouths so it is important to not only match the hook size to the bait, but to also take this into account. Size 2 hooks will be perfectly suited to a worm bait but it may be necessary to step up to a size 1 or even a 1/0 if peeler crab is on the menu. Fine wire hooks such as the Varivas Saltwater Super Match are not only incredibly sharp but will allow the hook to be easily extracted from a deeply hooked fish. Light tackle can be used to get the most out of the fish that can fight surprisingly well given the chance. Spoons, attractor blades and coloured beads are all useful additions to a baited trace and can produce more bites. The habitat of the flounder means that it is rarely a fish targeted afloat, but small boat enthusiasts prepared to fish closer to shore than usual will enjoy the same sport as those fishing from land.VMO

How to catch mackerel

How to catch mackerel

Mackerel arrive on the south coast of the UK in May and are widely present throughout the summer months and into the autumn if the weather is mild. They are a widespread species throughout much of the UK that has been the victim of an increased commercial pressure during recent times and it is important to remain conservation minded when retaining fish by only taking a sensible quantity. The mackerel is a member of the tuna family and is a very capable predator. It has no swim bladder and is able to swim up or down in the water at great speed allowing it to ambush it's prey with great efficiency.

Best Time To Fish For Mackerel
During the early morning and last thing at night the mackerel will form vast shoals and move inshore, hoarding bait fish as they go. At this time, it is possible in some places to catch fish literally a few feet from the edge of the beach.

A Mackerel Diet And Best Mackerel Bait's
Mackerel feed predominantly on small fish and sandeels. They will form vast, intimidating shoals and drive the small fish into the shallows, occasionally even on to dry land. The most effective method to catch mackerel is to feather for them. This involves using a string of up to six shiny feather-like lures that are repeatedly cast and retrieved to imitate a shoal of bait fish. This method can be devastating and at times the mackerel will appear suicidal with their readiness to take the lures. A far more sporting approach is to use a single metal lure on a light lure fishing rod; the Dexter Wedge being perhaps the most popular choice. Another enjoyable method is to use a polystyrene float with the bait suspended below it at an adjustable depth. The mackerel also displays cannibalistic tendencies and a strip of their own is as good a bait as anything.

Mackerel Tips And Tactics
Mackerel fishing venues can become very crowded during the middle of the day. It is often a good idea to arrive at first light if possible when it will be easier to find a spot and chances are the fish will be closer to the shore. A quality set of mackerel feathers such as the Varivas Sabiki, will cast safely and last a few sessions. Cheap feathers are often tied on poor quality weak lines that are prone to snapping and create threat to other beach users. Mackerel can be incredibly easy to catch and it is of great importance that you set yourself a sensible limit and stop fishing once it is reached. Every fish landed should be dispatched and placed in large cool box with plenty of ice packs to ensure it is in the best possible condition by the time you get it home. The fish will become useless as food or bait if they're left to dry out in the heat of the sun. Mackerel can make an excellent bait for species such as whiting, pollack, dogfish, conger, bull huss and tope and are as effective frozen as they are fresh.VMO

How to catch plaice

How to catch plaice

Not to be confused with the flounder, it is usually brownish but can be greyish or greenish to blend in with surroundings. Its skin is fairly smooth with small scales and speckled with noticeable orange dots. It has a ridge of four to seven distinctive bony nodules running across the back of its head. The underside is white. Rarely exceeding 3lb when landed from the shore, boat caught examples have been landed to high single figures in the UK but are usually sub-4lb.

Best Time To Fish For Plaice
Whether fishing from a boat or from the shore, water clarity plays a big part in targeting these attractive flatfish. With it's eyes positioned to the side so that when the fish is shuffled into the sand on the sea bed, it is able to get a good visual on a potential food item, it is vital to these site feeding fish that there is sufficient visibility. Nocturnal catches are unusual, but not altogether rare. The prime time to fish for plaice on many venues is when the tidal flow begins to ease. March and April mark the traditional start to the plaice fishing season but the fish landed at this time are often thin after spawning. The plaice moves back inshore during the autumn and it is at this time that the fish are in better condition having spent the summer gorging on nature's larder.

A Plaice Diet And Best Plaice Bait's
The plaice feeds predominantly on marine worms and small shell fish such as mussels. Anglers fishing from the shore will generally favour worm baits. Both king ragworm and yellow tail lugworm are recognised favourites.

Plaice Tips And Tactics
Much like the flounder, the plaice is attracted by colour or anything shiny and flashy. It is unfortunate that some of the best holding grounds are over a hundred yards out at most shore venues meaning that the addition of anything colourful to the trace can and will reduce overall casting distance. Many experienced anglers opt for a simple two or three hook clipped down trace built with the emphasis on streamlining for maximum casting distance. Boat anglers on the other hand are able to fish long flowing traces with colour beads and spoons which can prove particularly devastating in some areas. Again, worms are the bait of choice but the addition of a long thin strip of quid can produce a few extra fish. Light tackle can also be used afloat with some anglers fishing incredibly light by opting for an LRF style outfit. Traditionally though, a two or three ounce watch style lead fished on a 6lb class outfit is the favoured approach. VMO

How to catch whiting

How to catch whiting

The whiting is a pelagic, shoaling specie that is in abundance in UK waters. Whiting are at their most common in the autumn and winter. Fresh from spawning these early fish are often skinny and very hungry, but they soon fatten up after feeding in coastal waters. Bigger whiting of 1-2lb become more common closer to Christmas, but by late March the whiting have begun to move out to sea again to spawn, although smaller whiting may stay in coastal waters all year round, with areas such as North East England and parts of Scotland seeing whiting caught all year round.

Best Time To Fish For Whiting
Cold, frosty nights (although in decline given the current climate) are without doubt the best time to fish for whiting. A venue devoid of fish during daylight hours can come alive at night as shoals of fish come inshore to feed. A calm night can see the rod tips rattling non stop and triple hook ups of fish are common place at this time.

A Whiting Diet And Best Whiting Bait's
Whiting are a predatory species and will readily feed on small bait fish. Larger specimens have a cannibalistic tendency and will pick off smaller, weaker fish within the same shoal. Fish baits such as mackerel, herring, sprat and bluey are killers, especially for bigger fish. Worm baits will catch fish, but generally smaller examples. When the whiting are scarce, worm baits tipped with a strip of fish (known as a cocktail bait) can be a useful ploy.

Whiting Tips And Tactics
Both ashore and afloat, multi hook traces armed with sharp size 1 hooks will catch plenty of fish. Freezing down mackerel in the late summer to use for whiting bait in the autumn is a cost effective way of ensuring a healthy bait supply when you need it. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and try to plan your trips around frosty nights and spring tides. Don't be tempted to fish too light though as it is not uncommon for a cod to take a winter bait intended for whiting. The whiting is armed with many sharp pin-like teeth that can give you sore fingers, so a small disgorger such as the Gemini model can prove invaluable. VMO Home

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