This study represents the first nationwide assessment of marine recreational fishing catch compositions in Spain. Catch data from 7848 recreational fishers were collected using an online survey that was conducted from February 2016 to February 2017. The major modalities of the recreational fishing sector: shore fishing, boat fishing, and spearfishing were analysed independently in each Spanish coastal Autonomous Community (AC). The results revealed the high variability in the species compositions among modalities, as well as between the ACs, which showed spatial trends grouping them into larger regional units. For all three modalities, the Mediterranean and Atlantic AC were grouped separately. The Canary Islands were classified alone, except for the boat fishing modality, for which they were grouped with the Balearic Islands forming an archipelago group. Our results show the considerable heterogeneity in recreational fishing, and evidence for the need to study each modality as a separate compartment of a wider activity, and the risks of spatial extrapolations.