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Fly fishing for pollack

Written by David Hall

I know a good placeOver the last few years my family has been very lucky to be invited each summer to stay at a house owned by some very good and generous friends (thanks Iain and Gillian) which overlooks the entrance to an estuary in the south west. A short hike along the coast from the house lies a rocky cove which has produced a great variety of fish for me - all taken on either a fly rod or by float spinning.

This is a place where the rocks are gradually exposed on the ebbing tide and it's possible to hop from rock to rock until you are able to get far enough from the shore to cast a fly into water beween twelve and twenty feet deep even at low tide. There's one location in particular where there are two jagged fingers of barnacle encrusted rock that rise up steeply from the crystal clear water and the fronds of kelp growing over the submerged reef. Between these two outcrops lies a bay where pollack herd together shoals of bait fish and they set about them with great ferocity as dusk begins to fall. 

fly casting for pollackIn other places within the cove both pollack and bass lie in ambush on the down tide edge of the rocks waiting to pick off the small fish as they are swept along with the tide. Pollack will very often sweep upwards through a shoal of bait fish, taking as many as possible before crash diving back to the bottom.

Until the light faded I found that if I fished the fly too high in the water the pollack totally ignored the offering so I had to to cast and let the fly sink and be prepared to risk losing tackle by fishing as close to the kelp as I dared. At dusk they moved closer to the surface presenting the best opportunity for some exciting action. This time of day is, of course, a great time to be casting a fly or using a light spinning rod.

as the light fades the action beginsOn the evening I chose to fish the cove this summer the sea was oyster shell blue with rose highlights, calm, barely moving until it broke against the barnacled rock, gently stirring the kelp below. At slack tide, with the water as idle as this, every movement of fish at or near the surface was clearly visible and it was possible to cast to them as you might to a rising trout.

When the pollack hit your fly they open the throttle and dive for the bottom at top speed. This is typical of pollack and sometimes you might lose a few of the bigger ones as they take your fly into the kelp and snap the line. In just over two hours I landed over 20 pollack, the largest to two pounds. Not huge fish but even the little ones put up a good scrap on fly gear.

The set up I use is pretty ancient but it's proved to be effective for the job: 2lb pollack caught on sandeel fly

  • 25 year old 10ft Bob Church boron reservoir trout rod AFTM rated 7-9 with the cork handle taped up where the mice got to it in the loft.
  • a badly scuffed and beaten up 30 year old Shakespeare fly reel
  • AFTM#7 weight forward floating line  
  • 8lb fluorocarbon leader

Using this old gear means I'm not too worried about putting the tackle down on the rocks where it gets scratched to pieces.

At the business end, choice of fly can sometimes be academic - when they are in the mood as the light fades they will take just about anything fished a few feet below the surface. Having said that I've had the most consistent results with either a chartreuse and white clouser or a sandeel imitation - so much so that I rarely use anything else.clouser

Another method I've had a fair amount of success with is to use light spinning gear and either float spin with a Berkley Gulp ragworm suspended five or six feet beneath a clear bubble float or just let it drift in the tide. This summer I've been using white ragworm instead of natural and this seems to have upped the catch rate significantly.

I shouldn't take things for granted but I'm looking forward to next year already!even the smaller pollack will give you a good scrap on a fly rod

 

 

 

 

 

Pollack on the fly

I know  good place...where the rocks are gradually exposed on the ebbing tide and it's possible to hop from rock to rock until you are able to get far enough from the shore to cast a fly into water beween twelve and twenty feet deep even at low tide. There's location in particular where there are two jagged fingers of barnacle encrusted rock that rise up steeply from the crystal clear water and the fronds of kelp growing over the submerged reef.Between these two outcrops lies a bay where pollack heard together shoals of bait fish and they set about them with great ferocity as dusk begins to fall. This, of course, is a great time to be casting a fly or using a light spinning rod.

In other places within this cove they lie in ambush on the down tide edge of the rocks waiting to pick off the small fish as they are swept along with the tide. Pollack will very often sweep upwards through a shoal of bait fish, taking as many as possible before crash diving back to the bottom.

If a fly or lure is fished too high in the water they will totally ignore it so you have to be prepared to risk losing tackle by fishing as close to the kelp as possible. But as the light fades they move closer to the surface and this presents the best opportunity for some exciting action.

When a pollack hits your fly it will dive for the bottom at speed


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