The 24 Species Of Fish Every Angler Must Catch

To start off on your angling adventure or to brush up on your knowledge we have compiled a list of saltwater fish you are most likely to encounter for novice and expert alike. Below you will find information on the location including coastlines and seasonal information on several species of saltwater fish. You will also get a little know-how on the different characteristics of each species! So lets start with the 24 species of saltwater fish that every angler simply must catch!




The Garfish is like a prehistoric fish from a time long forgotten “Garpike” as it is often called, is a genuine sporting fish. It is a great and aggressive fish and is closly related to the tropical flying fish species. It is athletic and shows off its ability to tail walk, It has the qualities of a scaled down swordfish with its sharp elongated head and its protruding teeth, but hardly inherits its relatives sizes, its weight is usually in the lower sub 0.90 range between 0.60kg – 0.70kg. Long and slim with a turquoise back and silvery bottom, the garfish is commonly caught in mackerel shoals.

  • Current Record – Shore – 3.4lb, Boat – 3.9lb
  • Season – April to November
  • Location – Warm Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea and the Baltic Sea
  • Diet – Surface feeders, they like small bait such as whitebait
  • Best Tip – Use Mackerel as bait and a 6lb rod to securely catch these acrobatic fish.

Typical found around the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Caribbean and Baltic seas throughout the summer months, the garfish likes to feed high up in the water, simply below the surface. When caught it will attempt to tail stroll across in the water in an effort to lose the hook, it will typically jump clear from the water.

For the novice the garfish can supply a very easy quarry and also can be captured from a pier making use of the light. It is additionally referred to as the mackerel guard or mackerel guide, as a result of that where there are garfish existing, mackerel are always nearby.

Conger Eel

Typically huge in size the conger eel is surprisingly shy and hard to find as it tends to run and hide at the slightest hint of danger. It can often be seen outside of its lair whilst on the hunt for food. It is a powerful fish and has been known to resist a line by hanging onto objects at the bottom of the sea bed.

  • Current Record – Shore – 68.8lb, Boat – 133.4lb
  • Season – All through the year, Peak time – June to October
  • Location – Atlantic Ocean, North Sea, British Coast
  • Diet – Lobster, Squid, small fish such as Pouting
  • Best Tip – Fresh Mackerel whole fish and guts can be used.

There are a few variations to its colour depending on where they are found but typically they have a smokey grey colour with a yellowish under tone. There fins can often have a black tip but these are usually seen with conger eels that swim deeper under water. They have very powerful jaws with small sharp teeth that are perfect to grip there prey and eat it. It usually stays at the bottom of the water to feed on smaller fish but when travelling they often can be seen at mid water depths. The bigger species can mostly be found around wrecks and reefs this means that most are caught buy boat anglers fishing the deep water seas. Conger Eels will only spawn once in a lifetime where they will lay roughly 15 million eggs which get swept up by the north atlantic tide over to the other side of the ocean.

Smaller conger eel can often be found in the shallows however they only come out at night where they tend to feed moving in shore. Larger Conger eel are harder to come by and because of there naturally shy nature aren’t in much danger of over fishing and are intact thriving resulting in competition angling to have little effect on there numbers.


The pouting is a member of the cod family it has been known to steal bait and has a reputation for being a headache to many anglers. They can be found in huge numbers and don’t grow very large most will weigh less than 1lb but they grown larger further in sea so boat anglers can catch many weighing in excess of 2.5lbs which can make a good catch. This species can make an excellent bait for larger fish such as the cod and bass, they have been commercially used to make fish feed as well as fertilisers. 

  • Current Record – Shore – 4.9lb, Boat – 5.8lb
  • Season – All year round.
  • Location – Widely distributed, they are the most abundant along the coast.
  • Diet – Shrimps, small crabs, worms, shellfish and squid
  • Best Tip – Use short hook snoods when catchingputing as they have a tendancy to spin resulting in a tangled line.

Pouting have a coppery brown colour with a creamy light belly a black spot can also be found on the bottom of its pectorall fin. Pouting often spawn in Winter or early Spring, the smaller species can be found in shore around sandy beaches and rocky areas and the larger ones can be found in deeper water around wrecks along rough sea beds.


The Cod is an abundant fish can be found in large numbers around the North Atlantic where they can found all year round. They are a large powerful fish and have a reputation of eating anything that comes in there way. They have a sleek streamline appearance and are usually green brown or olive grey. Its body is a cylindrical shape often with a marbly pattern on its back. They are a fast fish and can be categorised as bottom feeders. They have a large mouth with large upper jaws which can give the cod an overbite in appearance, a large barbule can be found on its chin.

  • Current Record – Shore – 44.8lb, Boat – 58.6lb, World – 100lbs have been caught.
  • Season – All year round.
  • Location – Northern Seas, Scottish waters, Northern Europe, South Seas Widely distributed.
  • Diet -Crabs, squid, prawns they like small fish such as plaice
  • Best Tip – Using modern braided lines from a boat gives a better feeling to the angler of a solid bite, the lack of stretch indicates this.

Cod a primarily scavengers feeding on anything they find this includes lugworms, squid, small flatfish and prawns just to name a few.

Coastlines are a good place to find cod for shore anglers but bigger cod can be found further out at sea in deeper waters. Big cod are usually caught with artificial lures like eels and pikes.


A relative of the shark family, the tope possesses a credibility as a highly aggressive species of fish. Unlike the shark, the tope is a bottom feeder and spends its time finding food over smooth, sandy, shell-grit bases. In some cases similar to the the smoothhound, it is easy to recognize by the lack of white dots along its back. It likewise has serrated, knifelike teeth, which the smoothhound does not have. The tope is of a comparable size and shape to a shark but is much smaller sized in structure. The body is sleek with a brown grey back and flanks., while the bottom is an intense refined white colour. Placed behind the head and on the edge of the pectoral dorsals on each side are 5 gill slits. Males and females can be distinguished by closely looking at the dorsals. The male fish have fleshy appendages, known as claspers, together with the rectal fin, which are absent on the female. The female tope brings to life live young, generally as much as 20 at once and also as often as as 50 at once. The eye is particularly adjusted, with what is referred to as a 3rd eyelid: a separate membrane that can be drawn across the eye to clean the eyeball as well as shield it as it blasts its victim.

  • Current Record – Shore – 58.2lb, Boat – 82.8lb
  • Season – May to October.
  • Location – Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea coastlines; South Africa, California and Peru. 
  • Diet – Mainly a bottom-dweller-feeder; Cod, flatfish, whiting, lobsters and starfish.
  • Best Tip – Fresh eel can make an excellent bait.

Tope fishing from the shore often tends to result in smaller sized fish, of around the 20 pound mark, that have actually come right into shallower water to feed on small flatfish. Highly regarded for their sporting quality, it has come to be customary by many sea anglers to return tope to the sea after capture.


The bass belongs to the perch family and is often described as the sea perch. It is coated in small, metallic navy scales, which lend it a stunning appearance. It is a predator and has a body that is muscular and well structured as it frequently swims at very high speeds when hunting for prey. Smaller sized bass vary in colour and can have a mild resemblance to the mullet. They are easily identified by the spikes on their dorsal fin as well as boney gill colours.

  • Current Record – Shore – 18.8lb, Boat – 19.9lb – World – 20.11lb
  • Season – May to October.
  • Location – South-East and West Coasts of Britain, USA, Australian Fresh waters.
  • Diet – Crabs, squid, small shrimps, mackerel and other small fish
  • Best Tip – Try using a live sandeel to give a more natural look to the bait try using a very light split shot or bullet lead.

Smaller school bass, as they are recognised, could usually be caught in tidewaters and also will make their way right up right into the salty water, and even fresh water, on an increasing tide. Once the tide begins to lessen, they follow the ebb and flow back to sea and feed in earnest on food caught in the trends fall. Over the past decade bass numbers have dwindled suffering as a result of commercial overfishing, and nowadays few large bass are captured from the coast.

During the springtime and summer seasons, small bass move inshore to feed in the warmer waters and can be discovered in great numbers on the European and North American seas. In the far west country, bass have been understood to be captured all year round if the weather stays fine. Periodically bigger species can be caught from coast lines, however as a rule of thumb the angler looking for a specimen bass is much better off fishing from a boat. Bigger bass tends to be the only fish but will, during stormy weathers, relocate inshore to feed over rocky channels and across stormy beaches. The rough weather as well as battering waves will certainly have the bass looking for razor fish as well as crabs washed out of their homes by the rough tides.

Ballan Wrasse

Ballan wrasse are the biggest and also most common fish of the wrasse species. The peg-like front teeth are brilliant white in colour and also are just made use of for tearing. The wrasse grinds its food down with a collection of pharyngeal teeth situated better back in the mouth.

The newbie to sea fishing commonly makes the error of incorrect recognition, as a result of variants in colouration. Generally the ballan wrasse is of a green brownish colour, with the enhancement of a redish, bright orange stomach populated with white areas.

  • Current Record – Shore – 9.1lb, Boat – 9.7lb
  • Season – April to October.
  • Location – Wide spread through Britain and Europe
  • Diet – Mussels, crustaceans and molluscs
  • Best Tip – Try using a small hard back crab these can be found near your fishing spot under rock, they can make a great bait.

Larger fish are generally discovered in further water, near rough looming and also gullies. Smaller sized ballan wrasse are usually captured from breakwater wall surfaces as well as piers and also inshore from a boat. Catching balloon wrasse can see you enjoy countless sporting activities and they are reasonably simple to capture making them an ideal first time catch for the novice sea angler. This species of fish grows very fast with an average weight of around 3 pounds at just under 20 inches, there have also been reports of 7 pound catches and those come few and far between make sure you have your camera ready because they really are something to behold.


A member of the cod family, the whiting is the most common of sea fish to be captured off the British shore. Some fish have tiny black dots throughout the back, however this is not usual in all whiting. They are essentially predators and have sharp razor teeth with a thin bill thats best suited to attack and kill prey when swimming fast. They have an extremely fast growth rate doubling in size within two years as well as similarities to the pouting fish species. The Whiting can be found in between the months of March and June where the larger females can lay a few thousand eggs in one sitting.

  • Current Record – Shore – 4.7lb, Boat – 6.12lb
  • Season – August to January.
  • Location – Britain coastal waters, Norway, North Sea. 
  • Diet – Small fish (any). 
  • Best Tip – Mackerel for boat fishing and squid for shore fishing can make excellent bait.

Whiting are a lot more at home in shallower waters but can be captured from the deeper seas in numbers from a boat, these larger species can often weigh in excess of 3 pounds.

At the end of August the whiting begin to relocate inshore to feed for the winter season, and some of the best sporting activity could be had throughout the late nights on a high tide from the coastline or pier.


Recognized in the Scottish waters as the saithe, the coalfish is a member of the cod family, as well as it often bears a similarity to, its cousin the pollack. The noticeable difference between the 2 is the reduced jaw of the pollack which protrudes the top jaw and also it has a barbule under the chin. The lateral line of the coalfish is different from that of the pollack as it is of light appearance against a dark background. Like other sea fish, the coalfish will certainly vary in colour depending on the deepth of water it is captured from. Shore captured caolfish from shallowy waters will often show up silvery and also extremely bright. They are commonly brownish with a tint of golden green as well as have a cream or white belly. Deep water coalfish are more of a turquoise shade with light, white stomaches. They are very active seekers and form huge shoals as they plunder tiny food fish. They will certainly travel cross countries in search of abundant food supplies such as herring, fry and whitebait, and have actually been witnessed taking tiny salmon smolts getting in the sea in May.

  • Current Record – Shore – 37.5lb, Boat – 24.11lb
  • Season – September to March.
  • Location – British coastlines also found in Scotland and Northern European waters
  • Diet – Small fish, fry and herring amongst its favourites. 
  • Best Tip – Artificial baites work very well eg; Artificial eel from wither shore or boat

Boat fishermen have the tendency to capture this species over deep water wreckages on a range of baits. The smaller sized specimens come close into the coast and are generally caught from rough coasts throughout the the darkness of the night hours.


The smallest member of the flatfish family, the dab hardly ever gets beyond 12 inches in size. Sandy brown in colour, with white creamy underside, it is very often mistaken for a tiny plaice by the novice sea angler. One quick way to find the distinction is to look on the lateral line on the top of the dab. Trace the side line from behind the head to the gill cover, and also you will certainly see that it curves away prior to becoming straight once more. On the plaice there is no curve, from the gill cover to the tail. Another means of checking which species you’ve caught is to run your finger from tail to head on the back. You will find the skin is tough and corse, while the very same examination on a plaice will reveal a softer skin. At birth the dab is really a round fish, and during growth the left eye travels up the head and positions itself slightly ahead of the right. The dab will then lie on its left side under of the sea bed without any obstacles to its sight. When angling sandy open beeches, you are most likely to see the dab. It is mostly located in shallow waters throughout most shores as well as existing in lots in inshore waters along the European coastline all the way to Iceland.

  • Current Record – Shore – 2.9lb, Boat – 2.12lb
  • Season – March to August.
  • Location – Spread widely along most European coastlines. 
  • Diet -Fly fish, crabs, worms and seaweed. 
  • Best Tip – Use small bait on small hooks; a short shank size 6 carp hook can do the job very well.


The flounder is an extremely common type of fish and can be caught generally from creeks or muddy tidewaters. The flounder can live fairly happily in very brackish water as well as tidewater and is often caught right at the top of the tide where fresh water mixes with salt.

  • Current Record – Shore – 5.7lb, Boat – 5.12lb
  • Season – All year round.
  • Location – Mainly found in creeks and estuaries in Europe.
  • Diet – Crabs, worms and cockles. 
  • Best Tip – Using a flounder spoon 5 inches up the trace will greatly increase your chances of attracting a flounder to your bait

Not too big in size and also primarily weighing in between 2-3 pounds, the flounder could offer great sporting activity on light tackle as well as being fairly easy to catch. It has an max size of around 6 pounds and a 4 pound is considered a great catch. It can be caught all year round, however the much better catches are to be had in the winter. They will often feed when all various other fish will not, especially when the weather condition is truly cold. Throughout the summer months they leave the channels in order to go back to their sea spawn. They are extremely at home over a muddy, sandy base and can often be located in the several gullies or troughs ploughed out by the ebbing tide in estuaries and also smaller rocky areas around the shore. A good bait for flounder angling is the peeler crab. Some big flounders have been captured from the storm beeches of Ireland on peeler crab meant for bass.


The biggest as well as most respected member of the cod family for game fishing is the ling. The Ling can reach a weight of 80 pounds however is typically caught between 10-50 pounds. Being a predator, it is well outfitted to eat smaller types of fish as well as most bait with its well toothed mouth. As with the cod, the ling has a barbule dangling from its from the bottom of its chin.

  • Current Record – Shore – 21.10lb, Boat – 59.8lb
  • Season – All year round.
  • Location – Britain coastal waters, Ireland, Arctic circle waters, Iceland & Norway.
  • Diet – Herring codling & pouting.
  • Best Tip – Try fishing a wreck with large bait such as pirk.

The ling is well distributed around many European and North American shorelines including the British shoreline where its favoured premises is the south west shore of Cornwall. Ling are mainly captured by boat anglers, but there a few rough deep-water coast lines where ling up to 20 pounds have been caught by fishermen, fishing in the evening. They feed mainly on smaller species and among the most effective baits are codling as well as pouting. For the novice angler out on a boat trip, ling could offer an excellent days sport catch as they are relatively easy to catch. A large baited pirk is a great approach to make use of for catching this deep sea species.

For part two of this guide click here