The pollack is a fish that, when hooked, has an exhilarating first run. With the pollack, terms such as ‘power dive’ seem appropriate. This member of the cod family can be one of our most sporting fishes provided it is taken over a suitable habitat and on tackle that responds to the fish’s movements.
During high summer, pollack provide good sport for boat fishermen, but until midOctober those fish coming close to land are rather small. Fish that live in deepwater wrecks are present throughout the year, but the population dramatically increases from the beginning of November, when the residents are joined by migratory shoals.
Many wrecks beyond the 40fathom line, about 20 miles offshore, hold thousands of large fish during the winter, and provide spectacular sport. Between December and March the females grow heavy with roe. A pollack weighing 18 lb in December may, by the end of February, be close to the British boatcaught record weight of 25 lb. There are three kinds of boat fishing: inshore, offshore, and reef and wreck. Each demands a completely different approach and to find specimens in numbers requires quite a lot of dedication.
Lighttackle pollack fishing in shallow water is exciting during the autumn and early winter. In the western English Channel from Torbay to Land’s End, pollack up to 14 lb are caught within a few hundred yards of land— sometimes in less than four fathoms. While specimen fish can come from any patch of rocky ground, fishing off prominent headlands, where the tide runs strongly, is the best for consistent sport.
For inshore fishing, most experts favour a 10ft fast taper, hollow glass spinning rod, matched with a small multiplier loaded with 1012 lb b.s. Monofilament. It is essential to choose a soft line with a small diameter. End tackle for anchored or drift fishing is a 12ft trace worked from a single wire boom—commonly known as the ‘flying collar” rig.
Obviously, some consideration must be given to the length of trace that can be handled from whatever boat you are fishing from. A fixed boom, of twisted stainless steel wire or swivelled brass, can be built into the rig. Its purpose is to keep the hook trace standing off the reel line when the gear is being lowered, for all too often a simple nylon paternoster will tangle the bait around the reel line if lowered too fast. A weak nylon sinker link of about 3ft is ideal.
Down to the fish
The rig is lowered to the reef or wreck and stopped immediately any solid ground or obstruction is felt, and the line is wound back a couple of turns. This will allow the bait to swim freely just above the habitat. Sooner or later, the weight will be held fast, but breaking out will only mean losing the lead.
The presentation of the bait is critical. A great lump of mackerel or herring can never be as attractive as a properly cut and mounted bait. An attractive bait is a diagonal lask of fish about 6in long and tied to the hook with elasticated thread, so that it is not easily torn from the hook.