Sea Fish Species

Information and fishing techniques for many of the sea species that can be caught around the coast of Argyll.


Shore - Fish on the bottom with a 2 or 3 hook paternoster or pennel rig. Use plenty of bait including lugworm, ragworm, squid, mussel, whelk, crab, sand eel, mackerel or a combination of baits.

Boat - Try drift fishing with baited feathers, muppets or hokkai lures. Use the same baits as for shore fishing. Big baits=big fish!

Conger Eel

Shore - Strong tackle must be used - a wire trace or 60-80lb mono. No leeway should be given in the first stages of the fight as they will head for a rock crevice or snag from which you will be unlikely to move them. Use large fish baits e.g. whole mackerel, herring, or pouting.

Boat - Again strong tackle and the same rule in the initial stages of the fight. Anchor up over the target area and fish a single or 2 hook paternoster. A gaff is recommended to get them into the boat. Alternatively get the conger to the side of the boat and cut the line as close to the hook as you can. This saves time and keeps the boat free of slime.

Dabs / Flounder

Shore and Boat - Tactics and baits similar to plaice, below, as well as using a flounder spoon baited with ragworm or lugworm and slowly working it back to shore. Boat fishing works best on the drift and peeler crab is also a good bait.


Boat - Haddock prefer deep water with a soft bottom. Try drift fishing with a 3 hook paternoster, baited feathers or hokkai lures is productive. Best baits are lugworm, ragworm, and mussel.


Boat - Small fish are occasionally taken from the shore on fish baits but boat fishing is far more productive. Fish can be taken on the drift with baited muppets, pirks and fish baits on a flowing trace. Anchoring up over the target area with fish baits on the bottom will also catch. Use baits such as mackerel, herring, and pouting.


Shore and Boat - Seasonal fish, usually caught between June and October around the coast of Argyll. The sporting qualities of these fish are undervalued. Using light spinning tackle with a main line of 6lb or a fly fishing outfit can be great fun. They will take practically any lure.


Shore - Use a 2 hook paternoster baited with lugworm, ragworm, or mussel, and put 3 or 4 coloured beads on the hook length as an attractor. Lift the bait off the bottom every now and then.
Boat - Fish a slow drift with an 8ft, 2 hook trace, to a watch lead. Bait up as above or anchor up and use the lightest weight you can to hold the bottom, then keep lifting the bait just off the bottom.


Boat - Pouting are regarded as bait robbers. They will take most baits, but are a good fish for young anglers to begin with. They make great bait for larger predators.

Thornback Ray

Shore and Boat - Boat fishing is best though they are taken by shore anglers. Anchor up and fish on the bottom with a running ledger. Favoured baits are peeler crab, lugworm, ragworm, and mackerel strip. Fishing a slow drift also takes rays.

Common Skate

Boat - The Skate is one of the largest fish found in Scottish waters. Fish of over 100lb are caught regularly around the coast of Argyll. They are found in deep water and at the edge of tidal races. This, combined with their size, means heavy tackle must be used. A 6/0 reel loaded with at least 50lb line, heavy boat rod, butt rest and harness, 150lb trace and 10/0 hook, are the minimum to be used. Try large fish baits such as whole mackerel, herring, coalfish, and pollack.


Shore and Boat - A member of the shark family. Tactics are much the same as conger. Use 15lb main line and 30-40lb 18 inch wire trace, fished on the bottom. Baits include mackerel, pouting, herring and crab. Anchor up when boat fishing.


Boat - Anchor up and fish on the bottom. Although tope are quite big fish heavy tackle is not needed as they are running fish. A multiplier with at least 200m of 15-20lb line, and a good through action pike rod are ideal. Good baits are mackerel flapper or whole fish such as pouting or herring, fished on a flowing wire trace and 6/0 hook. When the bait is on the bottom set the reel out of gear with the ratchet on. A tope will pick up the bait and run, then stop and turn the bait and start to move again. This is the time to strike firmly to set the hook.


Shore - Small Whiting are a bait robbing nuisance but the larger ones are worth catching. They will take most baits. Use a 2-3 hook paternoster rig.
Boat - Best on the drift with baited feathers or hokkai lures.


Shore and Boat - Fishing tactics are much the same as Ling. Fish are mostly taken close to rocks. Try float fishing or bottom fishing with limpets, winkles, or mussel.

The two most common species of Wrasse to be found around Argyll are the Cuckoo Wrasse (left) and the Ballan Wrasse (right).