How to catch Pollack
If you want to get your string pulled hard, then try your luck with a big pollack. Find out where they can be caught all year round and which baits and tactics will produce quality specimens
From The Cod Family
The pollack comes from the order of fishes Gadiformes (Cod-Like Fishes} and although a they may not look like a cod on appearance, all will be revealed. Pollack and cod, like all members of the cod family, are very unusual compared to other species of fish in the fact that they all have three dorsal fins and two anal fins. One member of the cod family that can be mistaken for a pollack and visa versa is the coalfish. The two species look the same but on closer inspection, the coalfish does not have a protruding lower jaw, and its lateral line appears to be white against its ‘coal’ black backed body. The pollack’s back is dark brown.
A pollack is a great fish to catch. They’re abundant, accessible to both small boat and charter anglers, easy to locate, simple to target, moderately easy to hook and they offer a great fight. The taste pretty good too. If you were to take a newcomer boat fishing, you couldn’t go far wrong getting their arms wrenched by a pollack or two. Pollack are available all year round, from all UK coasts and in most areas will quite happily grow to double figures given enough food!
Tackle and Technique
Rods and Reels – Pollack fishing can require anything from just a few ounces up to 1lb of lead. Amount of lead required will be dictated by the tide and depth you’re fishing. With smaller leads, a 4-6lb boat rod will bend double with small fish but still be able to cope with a specimen fish if the rod is in the right hands (as long as the reel clutch is set properly). If deeper water or fast tides have to be fished, a heavier rod in the 12-20lb class will be needed to take the lead required.
A good rod for most pollack fishing would be a light uptider, which will offer both sport and strength. Multiplier reels are better suited to pollack fishing than fixed spools to cope with downward runs, and these reels should be balanced to the rod in hand. Braid offers better tide cutting ability than mono, but a downside to the wonder line is that it doesn’t like rubbing on wreckage or sharp reefs. Mono offers better shock absorption and abrasion resistance. Line choice will often fall down to personal preference!
Baits – Pollack like baits that swim, so livebait will nearly always give better results. There are three main livebaits for spring pollack – Sandeel, launce and joey mackerel. Each of these baits is usually hooked by one hook through the nose so that livebait presents itself naturally. An alternative to livebait, and definitely not second best, are lures. All lures are excellent for pollack and with today’s super selection of rubber devices there sure is many to choose from. Each day there will be one preferred lure that seems to catch more fish than others and it will be by a process of elimination that this is worked out, so keep it simple. Rubber eels, shads and jellyworms are by far the best. Take with you orange, black, red, pearl ice, firetail and real fish colours and you won’t go far wrong.
Rigs and Technique – There is one rig for pollack fishing – a flying collar rig. All tackle should be kept simple and as invisible as possible. The main line should be threaded down through an 8-10 inch tube boom or tied to a wire boom. If you choose the tube boom method, you will then need to thread on a bead and then tie a small swivel to secure the boom in place. To the other end of this swivel, or the long end of the wire boom, is attached a clear trace with a length ranging from just a few feet to a maximum of 15ft. An average trace length would be 10-12ft. Trace strength will depend on the size of the fish you seek but usually between 15-25lb to wear the abrasion of the habitat where pollack abound. Trace line colour should always be clear. For hooks – wide gape and circle patterns work very well with livebaits but lures suit J hooks better. Hook size depends on bait and lure size, but hooks are usually sized between 2/0 to 6/0 depending on what bait you’re using. All baits are lowered to the bottom and retrieved at different speeds, to a predetermined height from the sea bed, with the hope of tempting a bite!
Boat Handling – There is one main way to fish for pollack – on the drift. Pollack will generally shoal together so the key to good fishing is to make sure the tackle and baits (not the boat) drift through the shoal with deadly accuracy every time. The prevailing conditions, including wind and tide, will determine which direction your boat will drift, and it will be a case of repeating successful drifts using the accuracy of a decent chart plotter.
Places to Look – Small pollack are available throughout the UK all year round. Winter pollack turn up during November and depart in early spring. Spring pollack usually start to arrive in late March, with the main shoals of fish arriving on our reef and wreck systems during April and May - the peak of this sport being throughout June, July and August. These fish depart to where they came from during September. Any reef or wreck anywhere in the UK will hold at least one pollack if not more, but there are better places to look as with all species. The southern half of the UK is the place to seek a specimen fish of 14lb and upwards, with the western English Channel wrecks being noted for fish averaging double figures, sometimes bigger! The Welsh and east coasts produce huge quantities of 2-6lb fish with the odd doubler – great fun on light tackle in shallower conditions than the English Channel. And in recent years, the Scottish have taken to flyfishing for pollack over their wrecks and reefs – sounds like serious shallow water sport. The pollack has to be the UK’s most widespread and easily available species.
Specimen Sizes – The British record stands at 29lb 4oz and was caught in 1987 from Dungeness in Kent. Pollack in the 1-5lb size are very common. Any fish around double figures is nice to catch and fights pretty hard. A pollack of 14lb or over is a specimen catch.
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