Spring Codling on the East Coast

A nice Sea Scorpian which attacked a small jig
Short Spined Sea Scorpian

St. Andrews appeared a bit more cheerful than the last time I visited, away back in the early winter. Ian had caught decent numbers of codling over the previous week, and they were our main goal for this afternoon/evening session. I haven’t seen a cod all winter so was looking forward to some tasty spring codling on my first east coast trip in 6 months.

Ian negotiated the narrow entrance channel to the harbour and we were soon out on the North Sea. We made our way along the coast to a spot where Ian had been catching earlier. Spot on, as literally within seconds we hooking codling on our hokkais and tinsel lures. Mainly typical small spring codling, hungry and happy to feed on anything we gave them. Ian made good use of his spinning rod too, pulling out plenty on a mix of different lures. I’m too lazy for this and just stuck with the mackerel baited hokkais.

Wet, Wet, Wet!

There was a short wave pattern coming in from the NE – quite small waves but enough to keep us a little off balance. Very little wind and a small tide meant a very slow drift too. Very little wind also meant that the heavy showers that settled over us didn’t move on. It rained solidly most of the afternoon!

Rain. Lots of it!

Sea Scorpians are usually a sign of a slow drift so I wasn’t surprised Ian picked one up, but this specimen took a jig. Not something I’ve seen before, as I assume they’re fairly sedentary creatures. A lot of new anglers are wary of them, thinking the spines are poisonous, which they’re not. Personally, I think they’re quite cute and was happy to pick one up myself a little later.

A nice Sea Scorpian which attacked a small jig
Short Spined Sea Scorpian

We kept a few fish for the freezer but most went back to grow a bit bigger. Our hit rate varied, with most of the fish early on and then a quiet spell over slack water, but there was plenty of action.

Fillet fodder

By the end of the day we were pretty damp despite the waterproofs. So damp in fact that I heard a loud crack and saw a puff of smoke around my chest as we bounced our way back to harbour! My lifejacket had decided I was in the water and needed saving… One way of testing it I suppose, and later on I realised that the arming kit was date expired anyway.

Our final score was something north of 65 codling and perhaps a dozen coalfish, together with a couple of scorpians. Ian picked up a solitary and very small pollack but none of it’s bigger brothers put in an appearance.

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  1. Nice write up and I also like the wee Scorpian. Can I ask where you launch and where you park up the car / trailer in St Andrews?

    1. Hi Mikey,
      I was fishing from Ian’s boat, and he’s got a mooring in the harbour. There really isn’t anywhere you can trailer launch easily in St. Andrews as there is no slipway – Ian has quite a job to get his 18 footer in or out for maintenance, etc. Don’t even mention the parking – it can be terrible just for a car and probably next to impossible for a trailer.

      1. Thanks for the reply. Apart from Banff there are very few East Coast launch sites that are worth using. From your Galloway report it sounds like that’s a better bet.

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