The Coalfish (sometimes called 'Coalie' or 'Saithe') can be found all around the Irish coast with the North-West and West coasts being particular strongly populated areas. The Coalfish is generally a deep water fish prefaring 100 - 300 ft areas. Although the smaller fish can be found inshore. Cork is another particular hotspot where a new record fish of 31.5lb was taken in 2002. Unfortunately their numbers are in decline due to commercial pressure. At a first glance the Coalfish can easily be mistaken for the pollack which is very similar. The Coalfish has an almost straight latteral line where the pollacks is kinked. The Pollacks lower jaw is also much more pronounced and the Coalfish's tail is forked while the Pollacks is more fan shaped.
For the most part The Coalfish likes the same habitat as the Pollack where it can dive in among reefs and kelp for camoflage to ambush unsuspecting fish. Young fish like shallower water where they often remain until they reach around two pound. The larger fish seem to prefare inshore reefs while the truly huge fish are to be found in small shoals on the offshore reefs. These profishciant predators grow to mammoth propotions far outweighing their Pollack cousins cruising above the wreck often swimming among or just below the pollack. Younger shore fish are not as fussy and will often cruise shingle beaches as well as rock marks.
In their early lives Coalfish will feed upon worms, crabs, shrimp, and small fry and sandeels. As they begin to get to larger and move offshore they switch to a purely fish based diet with Sandeels, Whiting, Launce, Mackeral, Poor Cod, Rockling and Pouting being the mainstay of their diet. Drifting with flappers at slack water over wrecks can be productive as can a mackeral baited Pirk.
Tide and sea conditions:
Coalfish hunt mainly by sight and for this reason fishing in clear water seas is best. Sunny days fish well for coalies. Like the pollack coalies like a good tide run with spring tides sometimes not fish well however due to less time spent drifting over the wreck.
Coalies spawn from february through to April and for this reason they tend to arrive later than the Pollack. They usually begin to arrive around June and will stay right through to December where good inshore catches can be made for the smaller fish.
Methods used fishing for Coalies are pretty much the same as fishing for Pollack. Redgills are supreme lures while baited pirks will take their fair share of fish also. Jellyworms also can often pick out the Coalies. Coalies are to be found shoaling above the wreck or rock feature as marked 'CH' in the picture below. Although the Coalie looks very like the Pollack they fight even harder than their cousins with fish often fooling you into thinking they are a much bigger fish than they actually are. Unfortunately their is no real way to solely target Coalies and you simply have to catch your way through the Pollack first Plucking the odd Coalie. Black redgills work well on a fast retrieve as do black feathers although these do tend to pick out the smaller fish. Gilling using a ragworm nipped through the head can also work when retreived very slowly
Coalfish Profile
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