Common name: Pollack
Latin name: Pollachius pollachius
Record weight: One of the larger members of the cod family, although larger fish are only found off-shore. This is mirrored in the difference in the records with a boat caught best of 29lb 4oz and a shore caught best of 18lb 4oz.
Distribution: Pollack are found around the European coastal waters. As they are not considered a particularly good eating fish they have been relatively unaffected by over-fishing. Pollack prefer rough ground and are often found around wrecks. For the shore angler rock marks are the most reliable with pollack moving into very shallow water to feed. Spinning from the shore early on a Summers morning has to be amongst the most enjoyable forms of sea fishing and one that is particularly effective around the coasts of Devon and Cornwall and the Channel Islands.
Features: The pollack is a typical member of the cod family with three dorsal fins and two ventral fins. The lower jaw though extends beyond the upper jaw and there is no barbel. The lateral line is darker than the body and curves over the pectoral fins (in whiting the lateral line is straighter). The eyes are large and forward pointing, perfect for hunting active prey. Colour varies from dark brown on the back to creamy-white on the belly. The closely related saithe, Pollachius virens, is generally smaller than pollack and has a darker body with light lateral line.
Diet: Pollack are active hunters, often moving right into the breakers to feed. The bulk of their diet is made up of crustaceans and molluscs, larger fish become more piscivorous, feeding upon herring and sand eels. Any small fish that comes too close to rocky outcrops is likely to provide an easy meal to the pollack.
Spawning: Pollack spawn in relatively shallow water of less than 100m in the Spring. Whilst the larger fish may be found off-shore, the buoyant eggs drift with the current and most stocks of pollack come from fish that eventually find themselves close to the shore. Being close to the shore not only gives the fish an ample supply of food, but also gives them plenty of cover to hide from larger predators. So much of the success of spawning in each year is dependent upon the water currents and the fate of the drifting eggs and larvae.
Growth: Little is known about the growth of pollack. The fish can live for at least fifteen years and are relatively fast growing during the first few years of life. Maturity occurs at around four years of age. Larger pollack tend to move into deeper water further off-shore than their smaller siblings.