Heading home after a successful day's skate fishing.

There are loads of saltwater fishing opportunities in Scotland, and I’ve pulled together a few of my favourites here, where I think I know enough to give any advice!

West Coast

Loch Etive – easily accessible to me, and a favourite winter venue. There’s a very long list of possible species, but the core ones are spurdog, thornbacks, LSD and whiting, plus numbers of codling, ling, pout and poor cod, gurnard and mackerel.

Fishing near Airds Point
Fishing near Airds Point, Loch Etive

Loch Leven – excellent chance of thornback rays from shore or boat here, plus a range of other species. Smaller, shallower and less daunting than Etive or Sunart it makes another great winter venue when the midges have died off. If you’re hardier/more bug proof than me you should be able to fish the summer too.

Launching at the slate slip, Ballachulish
Launching at the slate slip, Ballachulish, Loch Leven

Loch Sunart – a little harder to reach, and often a very dour loch to fish, Sunart offers better quality fish (including conger and skate) but fewer of them, and with a smaller range of species. It’s further west than Etive, and more exposed to the elements, so it’s best to actively seek out a decent weather window to fish it.

Ian with 185lb Sunart skate
Ian with 185lb Sunart skate

There are many other west coast venues, and your choice will depend partly on where you’re based. Oban offers a good chance of skate, whilst areas such as Kyle of Lochalsh offer reasonable fishing in Loch Duich and Loch Carron.

I try and fish Dumfries and Galloway whenever I can over the summer, and you can find my posts on here, but I wouldn’t consider myself knowledgeable enough to write a guide to the area – the choice and range of fishing is massive.

East Coast

I started sea angling fishing from the rocks at Aberdeen, and spent many hundreds of hours fishing them in all seasons. Fishing is largely for codling, pretty much year round except for maybe mid-March to mid-May when they can be hard to find, plus lots of dabs and numbers of coalies, pollack and wrasse.

The excellent plaice fishing we enjoyed from boat and shore during now seems to be a thing of the past, with only small numbers of small fish being taken. Likewise boat fishing is largely an inshore pastime nowadays, rather than hard ground and wrecks that used to produce good cod in the past. However there are still good numbers of fish to be found and I still enjoy the odd day inshore.

New look St. Andrews harbour pontoons
New look St. Andrews harbour pontoons

St. Andrews offers quality cod and pollack fishing, but you’ll struggle to find a launch site and there are no charter boats for hire. The main harbour offering fishing in SE Scotland for private boat owners is probably Dunbar, and nowadays is my local stamping ground, although I find myself fishing it less often in recent years.

Leaving Dunbar through the Harbour Bridge
Leaving Dunbar through the Harbour Bridge
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  1. I was very interested in your website as I have a Quicksilver 310 Enduro inflatable with a Mariner 5hp engine, which I have used for fishing on Loch Long for mackeral. I love it to bits, but still gaining seamanship experience and confidence in what the boat is capable of, one of my concerns is only having 5hp is it sufficient? It appears quite capable. I’m no longer worried about punctures from hooks. I have caught spurdogs from Loch Etive from the shore, but concerned in the boat. Drifting is a problem and I was interested that you used a droug perhaps you could give me some details on this. Where would I launch on Loch Etive? I also find it hard work to assembly the boat myself with just a hand pump as I have restricted movement in my back. How do y0u manage? What is the best time of year to fish on Loch Etive? Safety wise I have VHF marine band radio, auto inflate life belt, do you think I should purchase flairs? I am always looking for other lochs to fish in which are shelted, could you suggest any others.
    Paul Rooks

  2. Just moved up to Inverinate on Loch Duich. Wondered if anyone has ever hooked a Common Skate here as the Loch is deep enough. Going to give it a go from my boat in the spring. Plenty of skate in nearby Loch Alsh , Adrian.

    1. Hi Adrian – I can’t say for sure, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t hold skate. They certainly seem to be coming back in larger numbers along the west coast generally. We had some good fun with conger there trying to shelter from an October gale once. Close in the shoreline with fish to the mid-twenties just as the light faded.

      1. Locals tell me species from Loch Duich include Thornbacks, Spurdogs, Dogfish, Flounder, Dabs, Plaice, Sea Trout, Pollack, Coalfish, Whiting, Cod, Gurnard, Mackerel, Herring and Conger. Some very large fish have been hooked and lost, thought to be Skate.

        1. Hi Adrian – nothing in your list surprises me really except maybe for plaice. You’ll probably find ling in there as well as they seem to be in most west coast lochs, and probably wrasse too. I’ve only fished Duich a couple of times, during the same gale ridden week in October, so I can’t really comment from experience. I suspect it tends to get a little overlooked as people rush over the bridge to Skye, and of course it’s quite a lot further for us central belt anglers when compared to Leven, Etive or even Sunart. That probably works to your advantage if you’re local! There’s also evidence of smoothhound from Loch Alsh, which was an unusual catch as it’s not a species associated with this area.

  3. I had a week at Inverinate & caught nothing ! Lovely place though & easy to get out to other venues in a boat too, but beware the tide at Dornie by Eilean Donan castle, it causes quite a stir. On land, try Letterfearn & drive right to the end of the road, it’s very peaceful. Better still, drive over mam Ratagan to Glenelg & Loch Hourn. Good luck.

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