Hunting for Huss

Shore caught huss over the past few years have become a cult fish, sought by both freelance anglers and specimen hunters. The attraction is that they are resident generally in wild rocky places well off the beaten track, grow big with double figure fish common, and though not the very best fighter they do pull hard especially when caught in deeper water. A fish of 12lbs is considered a specimen!

I get asked about how to catch huss frequently, so here’s a brief “how to” on huss fishing for those of you interested in catching your first.

Huss are common on the south Devon coast, but the rock marks in Cornwall, north Devon, west and north Wales and the west coast of Scotland offer the very best huss fishing, so most UK anglers can target huss without travelling too far.

They can be caught all year round, but the best fishing is in the autumn from September through to January generally speaking. They feed best at night, but in deep water can be caught by day. They like areas away from fast tides runs, so look for slack water areas inside bays and small headlands.

Good ground features are rough boulders, rock ledges and kelp weed beds. You’ll also find them on mixed broken ground.

To target huss you need tough tackle. More experienced anglers choose the Penn Affinity Surf, MTI300 or the ABU Atlantic 464, all rods with the power to bully big fish. Match these to either the Penn 525 loaded with 20lb line, or for very rough ground the ABU 7500i CT loaded with 25lb line gives the casting performance but with the power to drag big fish back through heavy snags. Always fish a 60lb shock leader to take the strain of casting.

The best rig is a pulley rig. Here’s how to build one…..

1. Start with 50-inches (127cms) of 80lb clear Penn International Shock Leader.
2. Tie on a lead link clip at one end (a lead link formed with a bait clip).
3. Slide on a 5mm bead.
4. Slide on by one eye a strong size 4 rolling swivel.
5. Slide on another 5mm bead.
6. 18-inches below the free end of line tie in a figure-of-eight knot.
7. To the free end of line tie on a size 4/0 Viking pattern hook.
8. Above the hook tie on a Powergum stop knot using a 5-turn Grinner knot to act as a bait stop. Leave 2mm tag ends when cutting the tag ends off by the knot.
9. The shock leader attaches to the free eye of the swivel and you’re ready to fish.

For casting the hook is positioned in to the lead link clip to streamline the rig during the cast.

The best huss baits are sandeel, squid, mackerel and bluey. Sandeel is very effective as is squid, but try cocktails of all these baits, especially mackerel and squid and bluey and sandeel. Baits that fully cover the length of the hook are plenty big enough, but use bait elastic to secure the bait to the hook. Slide the bait stop knot down the hook length until it’s just above the bait to avoid the bait sliding back up the trace during a powerful cast.

The advantage of the pulley rig is that once a fish is hooked, the pressure of the fish pulls the lead weight up towards the swivel and keeps the lead weight up in the water away from potential snags.

Huss have tough mouths and can often spit out a bait during the fight with the hook having failed to find a hold. Keep your hook points always sharp by using a honing stone.

Look for areas where lobster pot buoys appear on the sea’s surface. The fresh bait and scent used in the lobster pots will pull huss in to the area looking to feed.

All huss should be carefully released back to the water. Hold the tail in one hand and support the belly with the other. Hold the fish head first in the water and let the fish slide off gently to swim away.

When fishing deep water rock ledges always fish in pairs. Make sure someone knows exactly where you are and when you expect to be home. Wear bright clothes for easy identification. Always carry a headlight with fresh batteries and an additional small headlight as back up. Do not rely on mobile phones as signals are not always reliable on isolated coasts. Good boots are must!

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