(Pollachius Virens)

Often referred to as Coalie or more fashionably these days in fish and chip shops these days as Saithe, the coalfish is a member of the cod family, and bears a resemblance to, its cousin the Pollack. The main difference between the two is that the lower jaw of the Pollack protrudes much further than the upper jaw and it has a barbule under the chin. Like many other sea fish the coalfish will often vary in colour depending on what depth of water it is in. Shore-caught coalfish will usually appear very bright and silvery. They are often burnished with a tint of golden green and have a creamy white belly. Deep-water coalfish are usually more of a greyish-green. Coalfish are very active hunters and form large shoals to more effectively hunt small food fish. They will travel long distances in search of rich food supplies such as herring fry and whitebait and have been known to take small salmon fry entering the sea in May. Coalfish are often caught by anglers who are targeting Pollack.

Where To Find Them

Coalfish are widely distributed around the British coastline, but are generally more common in the northern waters of Scotland. Boat anglers tend to catch the bigger specimens over deep water wrecks while smaller specimens come close into the shore and are more commonly caught from rocky shores during the hours of darkness. Large specimen coalfish are often caught over wrecks around Plymouth.

When To Find Them

September through to mid March.

Natural Food and Best Baits

Generally any small fish, herring fry and whitebait. Artificial baits work well for coalfish.

Tips and Tactics

Artificial eels such as the Eddystone and Redgills work very well, both from the shore and while boat fishing.

UK Records

Shore: 37lb 5oz

Boat: 24lb 11oz