Port Spot­light

With 15 full-time char­ter boats, the York­shire port of Whitby is one of the most pop­u­lar fish­ing des­ti­na­tions in the UK

Sea Angler (UK) - - Contents - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy by Dave Barham

Fo­cus on the fa­mous port of Whitby.

For many years Whitby has been re­garded as pro­vid­ing the best UK cod fish­ing, and it is from here that the cur­rent Bri­tish record cod was caught. That fish was taken over an off­shore wreck in 1992 by Noel Cook, and it weighed a mas­sive 58lb 6oz.

Nowa­days, how­ever, it is rare for any of the boats to travel more than six miles off when search­ing out the cod, such is the qual­ity of the in­shore sport.

In the ‘good old days’, the stan­dard tackle used to be 50lb-class rods, Dacron line and ‘killer’ rigs (two or three mup­pets fished above a pirk). Things have changed dra­mat­i­cally since those days, and most of the cod and ling sport is now had with 12lb or 20lb-class boat rods, braided main­line and a sin­gle ar­ti­fi­cial lure dur­ing the sum­mer.

Dur­ing the winter, many of the boats an­chor up and fish the up­tide method with bait. This tac­tic has proven ex­tremely ef­fec­tive, so much so that some of the skip­pers run a ‘Winter Up­tid­ing Fes­ti­val’, which at­tracts hun­dreds of com­peti­tors from all over the UK.

Fish to well over 20lb are still caught reg­u­larly, and the sheer num­bers of fish into dou­ble fig­ures within three miles of the port is as­tound­ing.


It’s not just cod and ling you can catch out of Whitby though. In re­cent years, some of the char­ter boats have opened up some very ex­cit­ing sport in the form of por­bea­gle sharks.

Sharks to over 350lb have been caught, and in good num­bers too. When con­di­tions are right, it’s not un­com­mon to get two, three or more runs in a day, which of­fers re­ally good odds of boat­ing a big porgie.

Then there is the real pos­si­bil­ity of latch­ing into a hal­ibut. Dur­ing re­cent years there has been a dozen or so hal­ibut caught by ac­ci­dent just a few miles off­shore, the big­gest a 71lb beast. These fish are here to stay, and it’s only a matter of time be­fore some­one works out ex­actly where they are and how to tar­get them prop­erly.

As if all that big-fish ac­tion isn’t enough to whet your ap­petite, there is some su­perb in­shore bass fish­ing as well. Whitby is fast be­com­ing an area fre­quented by kayak an­glers, trolling lures or fish­ing live­baits close to the shore, re­sult­ing in good catches of bass.


Whereas the wreck sport used to limit fish­ing to the sum­mer and au­tumn, the new in­shore fish­ery is avail­able all year, with the winter pro­vid­ing some hec­tic in­shore cod ac­tion. There are also fes­ti­vals in the spring and sum­mer, with big cash prizes. For more info on these com­pe­ti­tions and other events out of Whitby, visit the Whitby Char­ter Skip­pers As­so­ci­a­tion web­site at: www.wcsa.co.uk

Char­ter boats in the har­bour at Whitby

Skip­per Paul Kil­patrick with a cod In­shore lure fish­ing has re­ally taken off in re­cent years

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