On water

Recreational Sea Angling


The sea angling throughout the area divides between shore and boat based activities. Although popular the shore based rod fishing is not widespread but localises to key points often associated with a limited number of piers and known hot spots from rocks, sandy shores and freshwater inputs. Boat based angling is organised around many privately owned craft or fishing parties can hire from numerous skippered  boats which can provide gear and local knowledge, for example locations for wreck fishing.    


British Sea Fishing summarises some of our County Down sea angling locations:  

Donaghadee and Bangor

The pier at Donagahadee pier offers a great range of species. There are plenty of mackerel in the summer which will be taken on feather or daylights. Pollack will go for spinners and float fished baits. Wrasse will be also be caught to a bait presented in mid-water. Fish which can be caught on bottom fished baits include the following: pollock, coalfish, dab, flounder, pouting, rockling, whiting, haddock, cod and conger eel. The piers, breakwater and harbour area of Bangor offer the same species to similar tactics. Like many piers and areas where mackerel can be easily caught these places can be full of mackerel ‘anglers’ in the summer months. 

Strangford Lough

A large body of water separated from the sea by the Ards Peninsula which offers a range of sea fishing opportunities. Most sea angling takes place close to the mouth of the lough and the pier at Portaferry fishes well in summer for mackerel, pollock, coalfish and wrasse. There are also sea trout in the lough which are taken on flies but they can also be caught on spinners. There are big species for the boat anglers in the lough as well with skate, tope, conger eels and ling all caught, although the numbers of tope and skate are very much reduced compared to previous generations and these species are now protected. Mackerel can show well in the summer but can be erratic. Sea Trout are throuhout the lough and associated with freshwater inputs which are all minor with small runs of fish.  

St. John’s Point

St. John’s Point offers all of the usual rock/rough ground species with most anglers fishing around the lighthouse although other marks around this area can also fish well. Pollock fishing can provide great sport with plugs and spinners on light rods or even on fly-fishing gear, with large fish caught. Float fishing will also catch pollock and wrasse and mackerel will go for spinners, lures, daylights and feathers. Bottom fishing can also produce decent fish including cod, bull huss, conger eels and even shore-caught ling. However, the ground is very rough indeed and even if rotten bottom rigs are used a lot of tackle will still inevitably be lost. For this reason many anglers stick to the float or lure fishing. 

Ardglass, Newcastle

Ardglass rock marks (next to the golf course) produce great fishing with pollock, wrasse and mackerel to spinners/float fished baits and large conger to big hooks and baits fished on the bottom. Dogfish, bull huss and cod can also be caught here. The outer Dundrum Bay to Newcastle harbour will produce plenty of flatfish (mostly dab and flounder), with dogfish, whiting also; mackerel can be abundant in the summer.Nearby rock marks also produce all of the rock species such as pollock and wrasse plus mackere , as well as dogfish, flounder and dab. Nearby beaches can also produce decent catches, with bass a possibility when there is some sea running. The inner Dundrum Bay has minor but important seasonal runs of salmon.

Additional Information

Good Practice & Safety

For  in shore fishing, observe the safety rules:

*  wear a lifebelt (there are some good slimline ones on the market), carry a mobile phone and a whistle.

*  don’t walk onto mudflats.

*  tell somewhere where you will be fishing and better still, fish with another angler.

*  carry a small first aid kit and a pair of pliers in case you have to extract a hook!

*  wear protective glasses if fly fishing as bass flies and much larger than fresh water flies.

*  don’t wade out too far, and even use a wading stick to check the depths and where hidden ledges are.

*  and lastly, check the weather and tides, and don’t get caught out in changing tides and bad weather and swells.

Clubs, Opportunities, Disability Access

Care for our Coast

Conservation of the marine environment is vital for the future of sea angling. Be an ambassador for sea-angling and follow the Sea Anglers Code.
Tackle Box Tips!!
Catch & release. Fill your plate, not your freezer.
Dont discard spent line in the wild – take it away
Bag it & bin it. Take all litter away with you.
Fragile, handle with care. Put fish back to fight another day.
Go barbless! Do less damage to fish & fingers.
Get a net. To minimise stress, use a landing net from a boat, a drop net from a pier/quay.
Bait collecting. Take as little as you need, back-fill holes, replace rocks.
Big fish, small fish. Follow Minimum Take Sizes and put very big fish back.
Consider others. Kill & gut fish out of view, keep your mark safe & tidy, be aware of those around you.
Handle with care
Top tips on releasing fish in a healthy condition to return and fight another day.

Use bronzed hooks, not stainless steel.
Treat fish carefully and release as quickly as possible.
Barbless hooks make releasing fish quicker and easier.
Avoid handling or use a wet cloth to prevent direct contact.
Weigh fish in a landing net and photograph in water. Do not land if you don’t have to.
Have equipment to hand before you land – to land, handle, photograph and unhook.
Carry a T Bar and learn how to use it.
Minimum Take Sizes
These ensure the specimens have had a chance to reproduce at least once. We would encourage all sports anglers to consider not taking species that are “breeding stock” – specimens that are larger than average. Please return fish during spawning season and be aware of any legal restrictions concerning bass and tope.

Research & Studies

Angling and the environment

We would encourage all sports anglers to consider not taking species that are “breeding stock” – specimens that are larger than average. Please return fish during spawning season and be aware of the legal restrictions concerning bass and tope.


catch and release only – landing is prohibited under the Tope (Prohibition of Fishing) Order 2008