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Turbot, Scophthalmus maximus

Irish Record Fish: 34 lbs 15.42 kgs
Caught: Cork Harbour 1982
Boat Specimen: 18 lbs 8.17 kgs
Shore Specimen: 10 lbs 4.54 kgs
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Introduction: The Turbot is a wonderful and tasty flatfish and can reach a substantial size, with commercial catches of individual fish weighing over 60 lbs (25 kgs) reported... although any fish over 10 lbs ( 4 kgs) would be judged an excellent catch.  As juveniles, it reputedly prefers brackish waters, so try western estuaries from early spring onwards.  A common error in targetting Turbot is to presume that they will take worm baits like other flatfish - very small Turbot may but these are predators and they like to eat meat!  Mackerel strip and in particuilar sand eels in season (from early April onwards) will account for smaller fish with mackerel fillets, cones, and flappers being used to target the larger specimens from boats.  It is very sad to say that their epicurean popularity has caused a severe decline in their numbers and  commercial fishing has destroyed their stocks - in the early 1970s boxes of Turbot were a common return from a day's fishing in Broadhaven Bay in Mayo.  Now just one from the shore or a boat is a minor miracle. Catch and release is strongly recommended.

Boat tactics: These can be big fine strapping flatfish and they are predators so mackerel strip, sandeel (extremely effective) and even crab as a decent backup are all likely to find you a Turbot (if there are any around).  You do not have to be dainty with the final rig either -  keep the hook size down to 2/0 or more in a pennel rig albeit the rig can be the same as for most flatfish like Plaice, Flounder, Dab, etc.  A 20 lbs boat rod would be sufficient for tackling what remains of our Turbot stocks, although a big fish will give you some fight! Larges specimens are found in the hollows between rocky pinnacles, especially where there is a good flow of water and where the bottom holds some sand and gravel.  The Turbot Bank in Cork harbour is now more commonly associated with Rays than Turbot however the presence of shingle does seem to suggest an improved chance.  These are ambush predators so a long flowing trace holding a suitably large bait will be needed if you are to attract these big predatory flatfish from off the bottom. A strong biting trace (e. 60 lb mono) is recommended - they have teeth!

Shore tactics: Again find an isolated beach, probably in Mayo or Donegal or some equally quiet place where the commercial fishermen can not get in get out your beachcaster and punch Mackerel or Sandeel baits out into the surf.  Like many flatfish the smaller Turbot seem to enjoy a brackish and sheltered environment so any undisturbed beach or decent cove with a stream running down is your best bet.  The beaches on Achill Island have some left, as does Ballycastle (clsoe to Killala) and to a lesser extend the beaches west through Balderg heading for Portnacloy and Pollucoppal (at night) on Belmullet penninsula.  Any beaches from Galway to Antrim are your best bet ... and the added advantage of targetting these fish with a big flesh biat like a fillet of mackerel is that it will also account for any marauding Bass.