As we move into summer, and our coastal temperatures slowly rise, our in-shore boat angling really begins to take off. This is a superb time of year to venture out over deep-water pinnacles and ridges. These ridges are “snaggy” tackle grave yards but perfect habitat for hard fighting pollack and the spectacular coloured cuckoo wrasse.
For optimum results, look for sheer pinnacles that rise from several hundred feet deep to within twenty feet or so from the surface. A strong tidal flow that brings a wealth of food to the area is a huge advantage. Over-falls and boils on the surface give a great indication of the harsh, yet potentially productive environment below the surface.
With the tide running, drift these pinnacles for Pollack using a flowing trace on light boat gear such as a 12lb class teamed with a 7500 reel and 30lb braid. This kit will handle any pollack encountered and give adrenaline pumping sport into the bargain! A 12-20 ft flowing trace, single 4/0-6/0 hook and Berkley blue-fleck firetail is really all you need as these are without doubt, the ultimate pollack lures in Ireland. Also, try a long strip of mackerel taken from the belly or back to form a life-like sandeel effect. This will work just as well.
As the boat drifts over the area, slowly drop the flowing trace through the depths, but avoid prolonged contact with the sea-bed. Immediately begin the slow retrieve to the surface. Bites will be quite sharp and positive, but it is important not to strike at these initial hits. Slowly continue the retrieve until the rod-tip bends round, then lift into the pollack and enjoy the ensuing struggle!
If you have a sat-nav system, it is a good idea to mark exactly where the fish are lying to narrow the area of action. Sport can be extremely hectic as you home in on the main shoal of fish. Pollack may switch off the feed at any time, so make the most of it. If they switch off, it may simply be that the shoal has moved a little. Further drifts will usually find them again.
As the tide eases, the pollack’s food supply diminishes and they will disappear temporarily. This is the perfect opportunity to change tactics and turn your attention to cuckoo wrasse. Take off the flowing trace and attach a simple paternoster rig, or small hooked mackerel trace. By far the best is the Luminous Hawk rig by Shakespeare. Add small slithers of mackerel belly strip to each hook and drop down into the gullies and cliff edges of the pinnacles below.
As it is now slack water, you are able to slowly “feel” your way along the under-water contours, lifting and dropping the Hawk rig into holes and over ledges. A cigar shaped lead sinker is the best shape to avoid tackle losses, but even so, these should be tied to a weaker link to protect the main trace should the inevitable happen and you “snag” up.
The cuckoo wrasse will feed heavily right through the slack water. They swim in small shoals and are quite localised and territorial. Move from area to area searching out the hot-spots for maximum success.
If there is enough time left in the day, as the tide begins to run again in the opposite direction, it is now time once again to remove the wrasse tackle and set up the flowing trace. Pollack will be on the feed yet again in their relentless search for easy pickings washed by strong tides over the pinnacles, and hopefully give the angler an opportunity for another bite at the cherry! By using the tides to your advantage, and adapting the gear to suit different species, it is usually possible to have a busy and extremely enjoyable day over in-shore reefs during these summer months. Always remember to watch the tides and weather, stay safe on the water.