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Saithe, Pollachius virens

Irish Record Fish: 29 lbs 13.15 kgs
Caught: Courtmacsherry 2001
Boat Specimen: 15 lbs  6.80 kgs
Shore Specimen: 7 lbs  3.18 kgs

Photo Credit:

 Sean (pictured) and Jim Clohessy

Introduction: The Saithe aka 'Coalfish' or 'Black Pollack' is the Pollack's cousin, and is similar in terms of its size, voracious feeding habits, and preference for rough ground.  Often found shoulder to shoulder with (white) Pollack, 'coalies' prefer heavier weed cover, as might be imagined given the green/black colouration.  Again, since their habitat tends to be difficult for the trawlers and commerical boats to get at, their populations have remained largely unchanged and they have remained a popular unchanging source of great sport for modern sea anglers.  Coalfish seem to grow to larger sizes as evidenced by the new record taken off Courtmacsherry. 

Boat tactics: A 30 lbs rod and reel is a must for taking on deep reef 'coalies' albeit the drop down to 20 lbs is perfectly acceptable for inshore waters.  They really do like rough ground, reefs and strong currents.  A strong trace (not wire) is important and the normal bait is a lure like a jellyworm on a flowing trace, or a mackerel fillet set on from 4/0 or 6/0 hooks.  Big coalfish will turn their noses up at mackerel feathers, so a drifting technique with a long trace and fluttering bait is your best bet. Red gills and Eddystone eels work, as will large pirks and other spinners, including the newly arrived and increasingly popular muppets.  

Shore tactics: From shore, 'coalies' can be found over rough ground especially is there is strong weed cover.  Whereas big pollack are available from the shore, any coalfish over 2 lbs (1 kilo) would be considered a good capture.  They are commonly found is large shoals around the 1-2 lb mark.  This said, the deeper the water, the stronger the currents, and the better the weed cover, the more likely you will find Coalfish lying in wait.  Given the weed cover and rough or foul bottom, 'coalies' are often caught using floating rigs.