Fish-farming structures are widespread in coastal waters and are highly attractive to wild fish. Several studies have estimated that tons to tens of tons of wild fish aggregate around fish farms. These estimates assumed that the majority of wild fish are concentrated immediately beneath farms, although this assumption has never been explicitly tested. We tested the hypothesis that abundances of wild fish would be greatest immediately beneath farms and progressively diminish with distance at 4 full-scale coastal salmon (Salmo salar) farms in Norway. At each farm, fish were counted with a video-camera system at 5 different distances from the cages (farm = 0 m, 25, 50, 100 and 200 m) throughout the water column on three separate days. Combined across all locations and times, the total abundance of wild fish was 20 times greater at the farm than at the 200 m sampling distance. Saithe (Pollachius virens) dominated assemblages at all 4 farms and were consistently significantly more abundant at the farm than at the 25–200 m distances. This ‘tight aggregation’ around farms corresponds to the reliance of saithe on waste feed when they school near farms. In contrast, patterns of distribution of both cod (Gadus morhua) and poor cod (Trisopterus minutus) varied among farms, with either highest abundances at the farm or a more even distribution of abundance across all 5 distances sampled. No specific pattern of aggregation was evident for the bottom-dwelling haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus). Our results suggest that the present 100 m no-fishing zone around salmon farms protects the greatest proportion of farm-aggregated saithe and cod from fishing during the daytime. However, whether this reduces their overall susceptibility to fishing requires further research regarding nighttime distribution and movements.