Get Fishing Resources - Fishbook

Fishbook: Coalfish

‘Fishbook’: Our species-guide series based on “Get Fishing
the brilliant how to fish book by Allan Sefton

We profile the UK’s most common as well as some lesser-known fish species to help newcomer anglers find out more about fish that can be caught in our lakes, canals, rivers, ponds and sea.

Understanding the kinds of fish you might catch will add interest and could even make your fishing easier! Here you’ll find out more about…



Scientific name:
Pollachius virens

Life span:
Around 10 years

Typical size:

British record:
37lb 5oz

Found in the cooler waters of Scotland and around north of the UK. Similar areas to its close relation the pollack, but very large coalfish can be caught off wrecks

Interesting fact:
Coalfish take any spun lure or spoon but are often more active at particular stages of the tide and ‘turned off’ at others

About Coalfish

Coalfish (known as ‘saithe’ in Scotland) abound all around the rocky Atlantic and North Sea coasts of Scotland and the north of England and Ireland.

Unlike the migratory mackerel, coalfish are permanent residents around headlands and islands. They take any spun lure or spoon but are often more active at particular stages of the tide and ‘turned off’ at others. The two hours around high water are usually dependable.

Coalfish are predatory fish pre-dominantly found around rocky shorelines, reefs and islands. Their population numbers are healthy.

Coalfish are always an even, dark grey colour. If you catch an apparently identical fish which is the colour of burnished copper you have caught a pollack, a close relative.

Pollack and coalfish are often found above, or near, kelp (seaweed) beds. They probably ambush their prey from the cover of kelp. Both are strong fighting fish that dive hard to get to the safety of weed beds when hooked.

Visit the rest of the How To Fish video gallery here to learn new tricks and discover more about the basics of angling.

Find out more about:

Read more about how you can get into sea fishing. Alternatively, find a venue near you where you can #getfishing!

Some of the above content is taken from the new book, Get Fishing – the ‘how to’ guide to Coarse, Sea and Fly Fishing by Allan Sefton published by Merlin Unwin Books. This colourful, lively book is aimed at complete beginners of all ages, those who have been out fishing a couple of times and want to take it further and families of all abilities. It’s also packed with top-tips and info that make it useful for more experienced anglers too. Find out more about, and purchase a copy of the book here.

Header image thanks to David Overland and text reproduced with permission and © Merlin Unwin Books.

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