Family angle: Britain’s best family-friendly fishing trips

Fantastic Scottish salmon; traditional English cod and chips; Welsh mussels and oysters. Britain’s native waters are home to a veritable treasure trove of delicacies, but let’s face it, the closest most of us get to fish is ordering a haddock supper on a Friday night. All that’s about to change however – or at least it is if we have any say in the matter. We want to get you and the kids out on Britain’s rivers, lochs and sea to land your own catch of the day.

Billed as the ultimate leisure sport, fishing can comprise a relaxing day by the riverside, checking the occasional tug on the line, or it can form an intensive day’s activity, with the coastline a mere dot on the horizon – care for a spot of deep-sea fishing in the North Sea? Tourist websites such as Visit Scotland often contain comprehensive guides to local fishing and it is well worth reading through these before heading off on your break. Coast Magazine is a veritable encyclopaedia of information on seaside holidays, including tips on living off the fruits of the sea and recipes that can be prepared in your holiday home. First though you’ll have to get out there and catch your dinner.

1. Brighton: jump into deep sea fishing and catch some cod

Let’s jump in at the deep end, literally, with deep sea fishing off the coast of Brighton. There are a variety of species which pass through its waters as the seasons change but let’s look at just one. The nation’s most beloved fish, the humble cod, can be caught here from April to October and is best snagged while your boat is gently drifting or anchored over a wreck.

Cod fishing in Brighton follows well-defined patterns, with the cod moving like clockwork through the year depending on the water temperature. For a great day out on the ocean, head to the marina and contact Brighton Charter fishing.

If you are with a large enough group, you can charter the whole boat for the day, which works out at £450 for eight hours. You can also pay individually for deep sea fishing at £60 for eight hours. Equipment and bait can be hired from the boat too, costing £10 for a full day.

After a half day or day on the open water, Brighton has plenty of other options for families. Check out the town’s tourist information website for more ideas on family-friendly activities and the location of some great local fish restaurants.

If you’re looking to try the best fish in Brighton, our friends over at Visit Brighton recommend heading down to Fishy Fishy , owned by TV’s Dermot O’Leary, who has enjoyed many fishing holidays in the area.

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2. Scotland: land a leaping salmon

There are few creatures as indelibly linked with a place as the salmon is to Scotland. Scottish salmon, flecked with silver, iridescent in the sunlight, is prized for its pink, succulent flesh. If you fancy landing the ultimate fish, take the family for a trip to Scotland’s lochs and rivers. Even if you fail to catch an elusive salmon, the scenery alone should make it all worthwhile.

There is a wealth of rivers and lochs where you can fish salmon, but the rivers Dee, Tay, Spey and Tweed are world-famous salmon fishing grounds; you would do well not to stray too far from these. When fishing in Scotland you need to obtain a permit from each river, loch authority or landowner before you head out. However, if working with a tour operator they will have organised this prior to your trip.

The salmon season runs from February through October, making it perfect if you’re in Scotland for a half-term break or a weekend away with the kids.

Jock Monteith has been salmon fishing for 35 years. He and his team at Salmon Fishing Scotland operate across the country, specialising in salmon fishing tours, holidays and tuition. Packages range from £235 per person. For further information on salmon fishing in Scotland see Visit Scotland.

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3. Wales: river, deep sea and lobster fishing

Wales is fast becoming synonymous with premium seafood including lobster – the seafaring nation isn’t just good for mackerel fishing. Venture to the North Wales coast and you’ll find tours that include boat trips to areas blessed with fantastic lobster pots and grounds.

Sea Fishing Trips operate a two-hour trip in which skipper and marine biologist Carl Davies will take you behind the scenes on a lobster boat as you track down the coveted crustaceans. You won’t get to catch the lobsters yourself but you will get to experience a working fishing boat in all its salt-splashed glory.

Children will be enthralled by the prospect of witnessing how their dinner is caught and by the wildlife to be found. Bring your binoculars so they can catch a  glimpse of everything from sea birds to seals and the stunning Great Orme cliffs.

The best time to visit is in May and June, though there are other fishing opportunities throughout the year. More information on the fantastic Welsh coast can be found at Visit Wales.

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4. Whitby: mackerel fishing in one of Britain’s oldest maritime towns

Back to England and back to tackling a humbler fish. Once the weather starts warming up, mackerel swim past Whitby and the sea fishing season soon picks up – though the locals do fish throughout the year. Whitby’s harbour is home to some of Britain’s best fishing waters; it’s also a world-famous location, both for its maritime history and its literary lore.

Whitby Sea Fishing run mackerel fishing from July to October, the best season in these waters. Pete, your friendly boat operator, will be on hand to assist and has great information for beginners. You’ll be in good hands on the boat and equipped with all the relevant safety precautions before you head for the briny deep.

If you don’t have your own rod, tackle and bait you can hire them on the boat for a small fee (£5). Fishing prices range from £45 – £60 per person. Larger groups can charter the boat for £450 for the day.

Once you are back on dry land, why not take the kids on an activity such as one of Whitby’s famous ghost walks? You can find more information on Whitby and the area at Discover Yorkshire Coast.

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5. Northumberland: fly fishing for brown trout

Northumberland is a perennial favourite for fly fishers. The country is criss-crossed with verdant river banks and deep lakes as well as an impressive coastline. The region makes for a beautiful area in which to get close to nature, savouring the scenery while you try you luck at catching brown trout.

One of the best destinations for aspiring fishers is Westwater Angling Club. The club has private access to two large lakes which are kept well-stocked with rainbow and brown trout. It is ideal for beginners and provides a relaxed, peaceful and safe environment for families.

Looking for tips on what to see and do in the local area? Visit Northumberland is packed with great advice.

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6. Devon: go bass fishing on England’s Jurassic coast

Devon is one of Britain’s favourite family holiday destinations and its coastal waters are teeming with life. Take your kids and partner for a relaxing break and try your hand at fishing while you’re exploring the jagged Jurassic coast.

Devon’s coast forms a rich fishing area; depending on the time of year, you can catch pollock, ling, cod or bream. We’re focusing on bass fishing today because this is prime bass season, running from May to November.

Devon Bass Pro Charters runs daily fishing trips from Axmouth harbour around the Lyme Bay area, a region of outstanding beauty on the Jurassic coast.

John, the skipper, is one of the main suppliers to Hugh Fearnley–Whittingstall’s River Cottage Canteen in nearby Axminster, River Cottage HQ at Musbury and Mark Hix’s Oyster House in Lyme Regis, some of the best places  to eat in the South West.

You can book a day’s wreck fishing for bass in Lyme Bay with John, with outings lasting from 8-10 hours – be sure to pack some lunch before you set off. A day trip will cost from £50 per person but you can charter the boat for £200 (4 people max).

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Fishing checklist for beginners 

  • Regulations: Get online and check out the on obtaining a freshwater fishing licence; you’ll need one for fishing in England and Wales, though not for Scotland.

  • Rules: Check the local bylaws where you plan to fish. You may not be able to catch year-round if there are closed seasons operating in the area.

  • Keeping your catch: Rules on this vary across the UK. In general you can keep your catch for personal consumption but not to sell. Before you set off, check the local regulations. If you’re fishing through an angling club they will be able to keep you right.

  • Equipment: Depending on the type of fishing (freshwater or sea) the basics will include a rod, reel, fishing line and bait. If it’s your first trip as a family this could end up a little pricy but thankfully most of the tour operators we have recommended below will provide you with everything you need to fish on the day.