Winter Shore Fishing - Scratching Tips To Keep You Catching

If you're braving the cold to fish from the shoreline through the winter it's often Cod that get the headlines. Sometimes though you just want to catch without toughing it out on stormy nights and the Edinburgh Shore League has proven there are plenty of fish to be had from some very urban marks that offer easy access and a good scratching setup is the key!

Mixed bags are the expectation when you're sea fishing. In recent winter comps we've seen anglers catching Whiting, Dabs, Coalfish, Flounder, Codling and even some Sea Scorpion. Bagging up on these takes the right approach to take advantage and hookup efficiently.

Flounder and Whiting on the Scratching Rigs

Scratching is usually done by anglers when they are in a competition where catching even a small fish could be the difference between winning and losing. However, many pleasure anglers like myself will setup scratching rigs chasing bites over a blank session and you simply want to catch the less desirable, smaller fish which may be present. 

Tronix 3 Hook Flapper Rig Setup

flapper rig or a specific scratching rig with two or three smaller hooks will create a better scent trail and allow several different baits to be used increasing the chances of attracting fish to the rig. Size 4 and 6 are probably the most common but scale up and down until you're getting bites.

We've been adding in a bigger range of scratching gear as people have switched on to this efficient style of  fishing. Cox & Rawle scratching hooks are perfect when you need to scale down without losing any strength or sharpness. 

For all these smaller fish “scratching” rigs are ideal, two or three hook rigs down to a size 6 baited with ragworm or lugworm and mackerel or herring strips that are a bit of a catch-all. The worm baits should pick up everything and the fish baits might help pick up the larger fish in the shoal that become more predatory. The addition of a small lumi bead on the rig, charged up with a headtorch before casting out can help increase bites, especially in coloured water.

In the summer you can get pestered by Dogfish or Spurdogs on some marks but on days when there’s nothing biting they’re more than welcome. The winter and early spring it’s mostly going to be Whiting, Dabs or Flounder coming over clean ground with the possibility of some Cod or Codling closer in on rougher conditions with bigger baits.

Whiting do have needle sharp teeth so regularly check your hooklengths to avoid cut-offs and keep your fingers clear when you’re unhooking them.

Tronix Crab Hooks longer shank for unhooking more awkward fish

Whiting like fairly settled seas with calm frosty weather, perfect crisp nights to be outside rather than hunkering down in a storm. They’re a shoal fish that stay out in deeper water through the day but head inshore as it gets dark, ideal for a post work Friday evening match. They like a bit of movement in the tide so setting up at low water and fishing the flood should garner you most bites through the middle of the tide when the water is running.
Whiting - common winter species

The Edinburgh Shore League matches sponsored by Edinburgh Angling Centre and Cox & Rawle are a series of Winter Sea fishing competitions organised by Edinburgh Angling manager Ian Campbell the shore league is a first in terms of Open Sea matches within the Edinburgh city boundary.

Rigging Accessories, Pop-Ups, Beads @ EAC Perfect for Scratching Rigs

After a successful trial through lockdown Edinburgh City now has a Winter Shore League . Organised by Edinburgh Angling’s Ian Campbell the match is a chance for all levels to compete and pick up some skills, as Ian said: "Fishing next to somebody who is experienced can help anglers progress. The very first match saw 22 anglers catching 55 fish with the top rod going to David Cooper who had 7 fish for 193cm. The final match of 2023 produced some excellent fishing with a total of 440 fish between the 29 anglers who fished. We've seen more anglers getting involved, looking at a new branch of the sport or taking advantage of the superb fishing that can be found close to home and learning new skills"

If you need any advice or fancy signing up for the Edinburgh Winter Shore League come in and to the staff at the Edinburgh Angling Centre or follow us on Facebook HERE