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John Dory, Zeus faber

Irish Record Fish: 7.5 lbs 3.4 kgs
Caught: Killala Bay 1984.
Boat Specimen: 4 lbs  1.81 kgs
Shore Specimen: 2 lbs  0.90 kgs
Photo Credit:

Har Wynne off Wexford  October 2004

Introduction: This is my personal favourite perhaps because I missed a huge specimen within yards of the boat in 2000 fishing an inshore mark on Clew Bay, under the cliffs off Clare Island on John Johnstone boat the MV Lady Clare.  The John Dory is a wonderful eating fish.  A solitary ambush predator that shows up anywhere and can weigh > 7 kilos, although anything > 1 kilo is acceptable, it is an extraordinary looking fish, with a host of stories about the characteristic thumb print design on its body and how it got its name.  You will have no difficulty in identifying it with its ultra thin ambush laden design! The probable source of its name is from the French for gold (d'oree), the predominant colour of the fish.  The bizarre fingerprint in the centre of the body offers several stories too, mostly to do with St. Peter's shipwreck!

Boat tactics: John Dory are oceanic and deep water fish that migrate inshore during the warmer weather.  The best marks are likely to be those close to the under-sea continential shelf.  Mayo has thrown up lots of specimens in recent years.  These are not huge fish but do they have teeth!  We have seen them caught on baited mackerel feathers and also on lures (a shad).  A standard light boat rod equipped with 7 kilo line is reasonable but these fish like the rough and tumble of strong currents over rough ground as this is where they sit in wait for passing prey fish - so stronger terminal tackle is advised.  Rottom bottom leads are also a good idea as you will have to bump the trace along the bottom and allow the bait wander in amongst the seaweed.

Shore tactics: Try rough ground deep water marks, ideally in the aummer or autumn with a flowing trace and a mackerel strip or cocktail for bait. Mind you... Mark Shovlin reports that in 2004 a juvenile fish around the 500 gram (1lb) mark was taken from a small pier just before the beach on St. Johns Point Co. Donegal by an angler spinning for mackerel and pollock!