Also known as the Small Spotted Catshark or by its scientific name Scyliorhinus canicula. It can weigh up to 4lbs and is believed to reach a length of 100cm but in UK waters the maximum length is around 80cm. Lesser spotted dog fish are small, shallow-water sharks with a slender body and a blunt head. The two dorsal fins are located towards the tail end of the body. The texture of their skin is rough, similar to the coarseness of sandpaper. It is found primarily over sandy, gravelly, or muddy bottoms from depths of a few metres down to 400m.
Mackerel (scientific name Scomber scombrus) is an important fish to anglers as both a sport fish and as a bait. They are common throughout the UK and Ireland especially in the spring and summer months and then they will migrate to warmer seas in the autumn months. They can reach up to 2lb and vary between 30cm – 45cm. Mackerel are a slim streamlined small fish built for hunting in mid to upper water, they have a marbled blue/green back with black bars running down the flanks. With a silver belly and lower flanks, short fins and highly forked tail.
Plaice (scientific name Pleuronectes platessa) are generally caught between March and September by shore anglers as they spend the winter in deeper water out at sea where they spawn. They are found on muddy, sandy and shingle sea beds throughout the UK and Irish waters. They can reach up to 5lbs in weight and vary from around 28cm – 66cm. Plaice are a right eyed flatfish and are usually brown but can be grey or green to blend in with surroundings. Their skin is fairly smooth with small scales and speckled with noticeable orange dots.
Flounder (scientific name Platichthys flesus) are a very common flatfish and due to their wide distribution, their willingness to take most baits and the fact they can come into very shallow water they are a very common catch for UK anglers. They can grow up to 4 lbs but are typically caught at 1–2 lbs in the UK, their length can vary from around 27cm – 50cm. Flounder are a rounded diamond shape with rough surface along the lateral line. Colour can range from light brown to green to greyish, sometimes with dark orange spots. The vast majority of flounder have eyes on the right side of their head but a minority have eyes on the left.
Dab (scientific name Limanda limanda) are a common flatfish all around the UK, in particular most common in the North Sea. They will live over sandy, muddy and to a lesser extend shingle seabeds down to a maximum of 70 – 100 meters deep. They can grow up to 45cm and typically caught well under 1lbs. Dab are a sandy brown colour with faint orange spots and black or dark brown flecks. Underside is white and their skin is rough.
The bass also known by its scientific name of Dicentrarchus labrax is a highly sought after fish thanks to its fighting qualities and high reputation of the striking looking fish. In the UK they are typically caught at 1–5 lbs but can weigh up to 15 lbs and can measure between 43cm and 4 foot! Smaller bass (those under 2lb) are known as school bass and stay in shoals in and around estuaries, while larger bass live in deeper water and become solitary hunters. They have a sleek streamlined body with distinct silver scales, their first dorsal fin contains sharp spines and their second dorsal fin is smaller with no spines.
The whiting also known by its scientific name of Merlangius merlangus is a small fish – a specimen of 2lbs is a very good catch, with around 1lbs being the average caught in the UK. They can range between 27cm and 45cm. However, what they lack in size they make up for in numbers. Whiting are very common around the UK especially around autumn and winter. They have a slightly protruding upper jaw and there back is a shade of brown, grey or greenish, fading on the flanks to pale, sometimes silvery lower flanks and underbelly. Like all members of the cod family the whiting has three dorsal fins.
The three bearded rockling is the largest rockling species in UK waters but there are five additional rockling species found in UK waters. There is the shore rockling, five bearded rockling and four bearded rockling. Most of these rockling species are identified by the number of beards (barbules) they have. As mentioned the three bearded rockling is the largest and can reach up to 2ft and 3lbs but typically caught around 1lb. All rockling have a long eel-like body with very long dorsal and anal fins. They can be found in shallow inshore waters all around the UK and Ireland and more common in rocky or mixed ground.
A Codling is the name given to a cod that is not fully grown, a cod is not a cod until it grows to around 6lb, so prior to that it is referred to as a codling. Codling are mainly caught by shore anglers and usually weigh no more than 5lbs. They're found all around the UK, although being a cold-water species they are more common around autumn and winter, although some remain around the UK all year around, especially the smaller ones. Usually a greenish/grey/tan with speckled flanks & back with a white underbelly.
Gurnard are a small predatory demersal fish, found around most of the British Isles, they are a very distinct looking fish and have many unique features. Gurnard have a very large head that is armored and have spines around their body, all for the purpose to defend themselves. They have feelers under their head which they use to ‘walk’ along the sea bed and large pectoral fins which they use to ‘fly’ through the sea. There are over a hundred species of Gurnard across the world but the UK have a wide distribution of Tub Gurnard, Red Gurnard and Grey Gurnard. They can weigh up to 5lbs with the Tub Gurnard being the largest of the species in the UK.
The Thornback Ray also known as the Roker, Skate, Thornback Skate or by its scientific name Raja clavata are a highly prized catch for shore anglers. They can be found around the UK and Ireland on clear sandy, muddy and shingle seabeds and in clear sections of ground in the middle of rocky areas. They can measure between 41cm – 120cm and in the UK are typically caught between 2 – 12lbs. Thornback Ray are kite shaped with a long tail. They have a light orange/brown marbled pattern on their back, with pale spots covering their body. The central part of their body is covered in horns and spikes, which grow to the edges of the rays as they get older.
A Bull Huss (scientific name Scyliorhinus stellaris) are a member of the shark family and is also known as the Greater-spotted dogfish or Large-spotted catshark. This fish is much less common than its close relative the Lesser Spotted dogfish as they generally prefer deeper water and spend most of their days hidden away and feed at night. They are typically caught at 3ft and between 4 – 8lbs but can reach up to 5ft and 20lbs! The Bull Huss has a long body with two dorsal fins set very far back on the body and has prominent pectoral fins. As a shark species fins are not segmented with rays or spines and multiple gill slits are present on both sides of the body. The colour is generally brownish to yellow with large spots across the body.
The Conger eel also known as the European Conger are mostly found around the Western cost of the British Isles but can be found elsewhere in Britain, but in smaller numbers. Within the UK they are typically caught between 5 – 25 lbs and due to their size and the fact they put up a strong fight when caught conger eels are a highly rated catch amongst sea anglers. Conger eels of up to 25lb are potential catches from the shore but the biggest conger eel live out at sea in deep water, often around wrecks. They have a long snake-like muscular body, scaleless skin which is a dark grey, bluish colour or green. Dorsal fin ranges all the way around the body and merges with the anal fin.
The Silver eel also known as the Common Eel (scientific name Anguilla Anguilla) are mainly caught by anglers in rivers, estuaries and beaches near to freshwater rivers. They can each up to 5ft in length and weigh 15lbs but they are typically caught at 1-3 lbs. The silver eel is a complex specie and has many different stages to its life cycle, from an egg, to larva, to a glass eel, to an elver, to a yellow eel and finally to a silver eel. When at the Silver eel stage of life they have long thin bodies which is covered in slime. Back and flanks are grey to dark green with the lower half and belly pale/white.