|Improve Your Coalie Fishing|
Coalies, or Saithe as they are sometimes referred to, are often confused with Pollack. After a few catches, you will soon be able to differentiate between the two. The Coalfish has a symmetrical jaw, whereas the lower jaw of the Pollack protrudes. The lateral line of the Coalfish is a distinct, straight white line, whereas there is a definite curve above the pectoral fin on a Pollack.
|Pollack (left) Coalfish (right)|
The colour of Coalfish ranges from a greenish brown, typical with small fish, to a stunning slate black displayed on the larger fish. They are pound for pound one of the hardest-fighting species of fish caught off the coast of the UK, especially so when taken on light tackle.
Depending on location, the average size of Coalfish caught is probably between 1-3lb, but in some areas, notably deep-water wrecks, double-figure specimens are regularly found. Fish weighing more than 30lb are caught in both Iceland and Norway. The British boat-caught record for Coalfish stands at 37lb 5oz, with a fish caught off a wreck near the Eddystone Reef in 1986. Big Coalfish are also abundant throughout the Orkney and Shetland Islands, which is where most of the really big fish are caught in British waters.
Boats fishing out of ports in Cornwall have a long association with specimen Coalfish as the species used to be common throughout much of the south-west and western coasts of the UK and Ireland, but they are much scarcer today, especially fish weighing more than 10lb.
If you are targeting Coalfish specifically from the shore, a light beach outfit would be best suited. You will quickly find Coalies will take most baits. Hooks on the smaller side, size 1 or 2, baited with Crab, Ragworm, Mussel etc. should give you a lot of success.
|Century Tip Tornado LD Super Match Beachcaster|
|HTO Rockfish Revolution|
|Daiwa 17 Exceler LT Reel|
When targeting specimen sized Coalies you will need to venture further afield and fish offshore. The ideal set-up for this is a 12/20lb or 20/30lb-class boat rod featuring a multiplier reel loaded with suitable monofilament or braid. In recent years, advances in tackle manufacturing have produced great spinning rods and fixed-spool reels that have been specifically designed for fishing for various species of hard-fighting sport fish throughout the tropics. These are excellent for targeting specimen sized Coalfish.
The hook length is tied to the other end of this swivel and is usually clear monofilament of around 20-30lb between 8-12ft in length. The lure is tied to the end of this. If using modern spinning tackle, then use a weighted shad. To fish with this rig, just drop it straight down to the bottom and rewind it up through the entire water column with a steady retrieve.
|Savage Gear LB Cutbait Herring|
The general method used when fishing for Coalfish over a wreck or reef is to position the boat uptide of the area to be fished, then slowly drift back over it. The angler drops his bait or lure down to the bottom, then slowly starts to retrieve it. This technique is particularly useful because the shoals of Coalfish are often located at various depths in the water column, and it is essential to determine at which depth they are feeding. Counting the number of turns of the reel handle to the strike zone can help maximise results.
You will have to work hard and travel far from your regular spots if you are after specimen Coalies, but no one will argue that going after smaller ones on lighter tackle is just as fun.
If you would like anymore information regarding fishing for Coalies visit us in store at either the Glasgow Angling Centre or the Edinburgh Angling Centre. Or call us on 0141 212 8880 and our expert staff will be happy to help.
This article was brought to you in association with Sea Angler magazine.