by David Proudfoot

Pollachius virens

shetland boat fishing coalfish

Other Names

Saith, Poddlie, Queeth, Geek, Poddler, Black Pollock, Black Jack, Sillock, Sey, Glashan, Cuddie

Distinguishing features

The coalfish is similar to the pollack in body shape although the larger specimens tend to have a rounder cross section. The first anal fin starts below the gap between the first and second dorsal fin. The back is a very dark greeny blue which merges sharply into silvery white on the sides and belly. The lateral line is light coloured. Small specimens over kelp may have a golden sheen to the sides.


Coalfish can grow to a length in excess of 130 cm and weigh over 15 kg particularly in northern waters.

British Record Fish List

UK Shore Record: 24lb 11oz 12dms / 11.219kgs
UK Boat Record: 37lb 5oz 0dms / 16.923kgs

European Line Class Record for this species

species ID coalfish


Immature coalies can be found in great numbers in the shallow water around the north of the UK and Ireland. They will inhabit water up to 250 metres deep and over all sorts of sea bed. The coalfish will work through the sea layers from the bottom to the surface in search of food.


Large coalfish feed almost exclusively on fish particularly on members of the herring family. Smaller fish feed on sandeels, capelin and crustaceans.


The smaller coalfish will take most baits but favourites with the shore angler include peeler crab, mussels and worms.


The boat angler will target the coalfish almost exclusively with lures. Strings of feather or small eels can be very effective for the smaller fish. Larger specimens are best fished for using a plastic eel such as a Redgill, plastic worm or large shad retrieved on a long trace. Feathers and spinners will also take fish from the shore. Casting small pirks can also be effective in deeper water.

species ID pollack coalfish

Pollack (left) and Coalfish (right) – photo courtesy of Mike Concannon

Facebook Comments Box

You may also like

Leave a Comment

I accept the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.