Northern Scotland Fishing

There is a tremendous potential in the far north. This has shown itself in recent years with huge common skate and halibut catches as well as with run of the mill species such as cod, ling and coalfish.

Shetland rates as the best common skate fishing anywhere in the British Isles and has come up with regular catches of fish to over 200 lb. As yet Shetland has few boats available for hire and until this situation improves anglers are advised to make their fishing arrangements well in advance of a visit. The best chance at the common skate comes each September in the Shetland Skate Festival. In 1974 this festival produced 22 common skate topping 100 lb. In the two days’ fishing.

Orkney also offers excellent skate fishing both in Scapa Flow itself and along the coast, with the area around The Old Man of Hoy particularly promising.

The Pentland Firth, the fierce tideway bet-ween Orkney and Caithness, on the Scottish mainland, contains substantial numbers of halibut. Fish topping 100 lb. Are now taken each season and as many more are hooked and lost. The first halibut ever caught on rod and line were, in fact, taken accidentally, but such is the appeal of these giant flatfish that parties of English anglers travel north each year to fish for them. The season begins in April and lasts through until early October.

Ling, cod and flatfish are prolific. The best access point is Scrabster where boats are for hire. If the best results are in Caithness this is because most of the fishing is conducted there. Sutherland could and should be just as good but lacks the facilities available in the Thurso to John O’Groats area.

Loch Eriboll, for example, must contain common skate and halibut too but it gets very little attention. Halibut are taken on rod and line in Freswick Bay and Sinclairs Bay, between Wick and Duncansby Head. These fish are sometimes as little as 200 yards from the shore. The Highlands and Islands Development

Board has done much to open up this area to rod and line fishing and is expected to do much more yet. Scotland as a whole offers enormous untapped reservoirs of fish which once discovered, could rival the lower English Channel for big fish catches.


Access through Scrabster to the prime fishing grounds of the Pentland Firth. Thurso Bay and the Dunnet Head area provide sheltered fishing. Beach fishing at Thurso and rock fishing at Holborn Head and Scrabster (also for harbourfishing). The Old Pier is another favoured site. Shore species include cod, conger, dab, flounder, ling, plaice, pollack, sole, tope, whiting and wrasse.

Species caught from boats include anglerfish, coalfish, cod, conger, dogfish, haddock, halibut, ling, mackerel, pollack, skate, tope, turbot and whiting. Lug from local beaches and rocks.


Good shore fishing for cod, conger and mackerel. Good catches of cod, conger, halibut, ling, mackerel, skate and turbot from boats. Lugworm dug at lowtide.


Noss Head is noted for vast shoals of cod, haddock and for halibut. The rocks at Longberry offer coalfish, cod, conger, dogfish, ling, mackerel, pollack and skate. Shore fishing from Sinclair’s Bay Sands is for cod, dab, haddock, halibut, plaice, whiting and wrasse.

Access by boat to numerous cod, conger, halibut, ling, mackerel, skate and turbot. Shellfish bait can be gathered at low tide.


Good local fishing grounds yielding coalfish, cod, conger, haddock, ling, mackerel, plaice, pollack, skate and whiting. Lug can be obtained at low tidef rom the harbour or alternatively from local beaches.


Local rock and beach marks and Brora harbour provide sites for codling, dab, mullet and plaice. Boat fishing can give catches of coalfish, cod, conger, haddock, pollack and skate. Lug from local beaches.


Access to the fishing banks off the north coast of the Dornoch Firth. Good shore fishing from the rocks at Embo and from Embo pier. Bass, codling, flatfish, mackerel, pollack and sea trout from the shore, with cod, conger, haddock, ling, mackerel, pollack, skate and tope from boats.