On arrival at the harbour along the Antrim Coast, the weather was a great deal calmer than anticipated. With light winds forecast until the following day, my angling mate and I decided to push further from shore and take advantage of this rare opportunity!
Leaving the harbour…..
We had already agreed to target pollack over in-shore reefs, but the holy grail of pollack fishing in Northern Ireland lies some fourteen miles off-shore. It is an area that until now, I have never had the good fortune to visit. The North Channel and it’s fast tides can be a daunting place at best, and life threatening at worse. It requires a healthy respect! As the reef is well marked on my chart plotter, it should be quite easy to locate. With this in mind, we decided to head out on yet another adventure to a relatively un-explored venue in my trusty 21ft Fast Fisher.
Our first drift over the reef showed amazing, fish-holding contours and pinnacles on the sounder, ranging from 80ft and dropping off into over 500ft. This drift produced nothing at all, but using the plotter, subsequent drifts could be made roughly twenty feet apart in a bid to locate feeding fish.
By our fourth drift, rods buckled with the powerful dives and typical reel screaming antics of medium-sized pollack. Smashing into our redgills and blue-flecked firetails certainly kick-starts the adrenaline rush. The first fish over the gunnells re-gurgitated large balls of pipe fish, some of them still alive! They were obviously gorging on a huge supply below us amongst the rocks and kelp of the reef.
First fish over the gunnels….
They were certainly feeding on pipe fish….
Rather than persevering with sandeel imitations, I looked through the jelly supply and stumbled on the Gulp Arenicola Lugworm, natural pattern. These were reasonably close to the colour and shape of the pipe fish and with impregnated scent, went down an absolute storm!
Gulp Arenicola Lugworm
With the flying collar rig now adapted, (I had added a dropper half way along the leader), pollack were nailing the Gulp Lugworm two a drop. Fish were ranging in size from 5lbs-11lbs, and at one stage, an 11lb and a 9lb pollack together in 200ft of water certainly put my 12lb class Ugly Stik through it’s paces.
To be honest, I reckon we could have filled the boat with fish, but the huge pressure changes meant that no pollack could be returned. We made the sensible decision to quit at around two dozen landed. It was amazing fun while it lasted, but we turned our attention to targeting the shallow part of the reef to while away the last few hours, narrowly missing the specimen barrier with several stunningly coloured cuckoo wrasse taking baited mackerel traces.
A great end to a fantastic day, off shore pollack hunting.