I recently teamed up with Penn Category Manager Rob Wyatt for a field test/photo trip out from
Plymouth with top local skipper Malc Jones aboard his charter boat Sea Angler 2.
We needed to put some 8/12lb class prototype Penn rods through their paces against big fast running fish, so we intended to target pollack and big conger on the reef ground.
The day started with a bait catching session not far from the famous Eddystone Lighthouse with launce sandeel and a few mackerel and herring coming aboard, but the mackerel and herring were few and far between and this was a major concern as these would be the key baits on the day when we switched over to the conger.
For the pollack we set up with simple Flying Collar rigs using 10-foot traces of 19lb Fluoro carbon line and a size 4/0 hook. The sandeels are simply lip hooked once through the top lip. The technique is to drop the sandeel to the seabed, then slowly retrieve the eel back up through the lower water column. When a fish takes you’ll initially feel a tension come on the line, then the rod tip folds slowly over until the hook is set and the fish dives back for the seabed.
I was using a Penn Waveblaster 8/12lb class rod with the Revo Toro 60HS reel loaded with just 15lb Fireline braid. I immediately hit in to a big fish that was reluctant to move up off the seabed, but as it did so it made repeated long runs back in to the depths. It proved to be a pollack weighing 13lb 12ozs and from reef ground that’s a big fish. Rob was fishing much the same and fought it out with pollack to over 10lbs, plus we had loads of smaller fish between 5 and 8lbs also ling to 8lbs.
With the tide about to turn it was time to move to a new mark, reef ground again, but this time with conger in mind, the problem was we were really short of fresh baits and though I tried hard to find some fresh mackerel by constantly feathering the mackerel just weren’t there.
Sparingly cut baits of herring, mackerel and squid went down to the seabed and bites were quick to follow. Initially small ling to 8lbs came aboard but then Malc boated a fine eel well over 30lbs. Rob lost a big eel, but then, still fishing the light 8/12lb class prototype rods and a prototype small fixed spool reel loaded with just 20lb braid, he hit in to a fish that was obviously much bigger. After a dogged fight we watched a cracking eel well over 40lbs break surface. It just goes to show that light balanced tackle, now highly popular here in the
UK, can easily handle big hard fighting fish if you take your time and exercise patience.
We rounded the day up with a little species hunting adding pout, poor cod, cuckoo wrasse, whiting, and when it was late in the day we finally found the mackerel with some big herring underneath them. Too late for the eels, but still good fun!