Sea Boat Fishing in the UK

Towergate's guide to sea boat fishing in the UK looks at the variety of fish species that can be caught around the British Isles, the times of year they can be found and what insurance requirements you'll need to consider before setting off.

With the Marine Management Organisation recording 884,000 sea anglers in the UK in their 2012 Sea Angling report, there is an abundance of species and areas around the British Isles in which to fish. 

Whether your method of choice is bait fishing, lure fishing (spinning) or fly fishing, this guide explores when and where you can fish and the types of fish you can catch.

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Do I need a qualification to buy a boat?

A qualification is not a legal requirement, although:

  • Some insurance providers require a qualification if you don't have any experience.

  • RYA qualifications are available for all ages and all aspects, from sailing dinghies to yachts, small fishing boats to speed boats.

  • Qualifications can be gained in levels starting from level 1 (for beginners) up to level 4 (for experienced sailors), with both theory and practical exams available.

  • Having a theory and practical qualification with the RYA qualifies you for a 10% discount on your Towergate Insurance premium.

  • Some boat clubs or marinas require you to have insurance and a qualification for liability purposes.

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Fishing seasons in the UK

While over 100 species of fish have been identified in UK waters, many are seasonal so during certain seasons, you're likely to catch different species.


At the end of spring, many species that migrate away from the UK for winter begin to return to British waters. Plaice, mackerel, sprats, sand eels and garfish begin to return, while species such as cod begin to prepare themselves for a return to cooler Scandinavian waters.


With the sea water warming up over the summer, species such as the sprat, mackerel, pollock, turbot, plaice and garfish can be found in shallower waters. You may even catch a sub-tropical exotic species around the southwest of England.


Autumn offers the most diversity across UK waters. Warmer water dwellers such as bass, pollock, mackerel, conger eels and wrasse move off to warmer waters while winter species move in, such as cod (particularly around Scotland and northern England), whiting, dab and flounder.


In Scotland, winter is cod season. However, other specifies such as flatfish, flounder and dab can also be found. Towards the end of winter, there is a quieter season, until warmer water fish return in mid spring.

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Where to go sea fishing in the UK

Types of fish species by area

These are some of the most common fish to be found in British waters: 

Cod: North Sea, West of Scotland, Irish Sea, Celtic Sea

Haddock: North Sea, Skagerrak, West of Scotland

Plaice: North Sea, Irish Sea

Sole: North Sea, Irish Sea, Eastern Channel, Western Channel

Herring: North Sea

Mackerel: North East Atlantic

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Insuring your fishing boat with Towergate

At Towergate, we’ll take the time to work closely with you to draw up and cost a boat insurance policy that will give you the peace of mind that you’re covered in any event. Call us for a quote when you’re ready on 0344 892 1987.

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About the author

Adam Summersby is a respected leader with 11 years’ varied experience in niche personal and commercial lines insurance, including caravan, site operators and excess reimbursement, with proficiency in leadership, sales and account management.