I’ve always had a short attention span, and fishing might be the only sport where I can exercise patience. A few years ago I completed a psychometric test which confirmed I want everything bright, brief and gone. According to Carl Jung I came out with 98% Red Energy, i.e. I’m competitive, goal orientated and impatient. Qualities that might not be the best for a professional angler.
Some years ago in my teens, I discovered just how exciting fishing in the sea can be for big predators. I had fished for Pollock as a boy, but mainly catching small fish from the shore, I was always amazed how hard a scrap these fish gave, pound for pound, they give a damn good account of themselves.
Five years ago we wanted to expand our portfolio and our team spent a long time walking and hiking and prospecting remote areas of the west coast in Scotland seeking out productive marks. One particular day, after 7 hours of fruitless trudging through peat bogs and wet heather, we came across the first of many memorable marks. What happened then is something I will never forget, neither will my companion on that evening, I counted 47 fish in a 90 minute session and we lost several that we simply couldn’t hold on to.
The fish averaged 5lb in weight and the biggest we had was a healthy 8 pounder. I lost two fish I estimated to be double figure and cursed not spending more time in the gym. We’ve not long returned from another trip to the North West and again the sport was fast and furious, the biggest fish of the trip was 6 1/2 pounds, no monsters this time, but spectacular weather.
So how do you fish for these superb predators? You can spin or fly fish for them. Lets start with the fly. I’ve noticed that depending on the geography of the mark, the colour of fly varies. For example pale green and white sand eel patterns reap rewards in the South West and on the Berwickshire coast, however, the fish in the North West will not even look at these flies. Simple black or black and orange clouser patterns work very well here. The line you use depends on the mark, but you do need to get the fly to the right level, experiment and carry a wallet of sink tips. Use a stiff shock leader of about 6-8ft I use 40lb test and a loop knot to allow the fly to swim naturally. The best success is a varied speed retrieve and a rapid series of pulls followed by a long pause can be deadly. Watch this video to see why.
Spinning – take a powerful rod, especially if you are fishing for pollock over 5 pound in weight, they are incredibly strong and you need to keep them out of the Kelp on the floor of the sea bed. You don’t play these fish, more bully them and battle them as hard as you can. Drags are usually set very tight. I fish and 11ft spinning rod and a 5000 reel loaded with quality 50lb braid, an Albright knot straight to a 4ft length of shock tippet then tied on to a lure clip. The Delalande Argrafe Rapide is the best, go for size 8 for big fish, this is loaded to 40lb breaking strain. This saves a lot of time switching lures when experimenting with colours. Jig heads of around 20-25 grammes are my choice and soft plastics such as sand eels and Berkely grub tails. Again vary your retrieve, and search the depths. It’s also worth mentioning that I try to avoid damaging these fish on the rocks and lift them in to soft beds of kelp to unhook and release. When releasing, get them back quick and throw them back head first to revive them and spark them into a quick retreat into the depths before those pesky seals can get a hold of them!
Want to try and fish one of these venues, check this out. Pollock fishing in Scotland.