Ling (Molva molva)
Irish Record 55lb taken on 31.01.2004 by Ailbhe O’sullivan at Cork Harbour.
Specimen 25lb, or 11.34 kilo
The Ling has a long, eel-like body, and a large mouth filled with sharp teeth and a long barbule on the chin. The under-belly is light cream leading onto tan or sand-coloured flanks and back. There are two dorsal fins, the first is short, and the second is very long, almost reaching the tail. The anal fin is a mirror image of the long dorsal fin.
Andrew Wolsey with his PB Ling taken out of Ballycastle
Where to catch
Wrecks, wrecks and more wrecks. Find a wreck, in particular on the south coast, and spend some time over it. Ling love wrecks, but failing that, you will also find them in their natural habitat, amongst off-shore deep-water pinnacles, reefs and the base of rocky ledges.
Ling are reasonably abundant throughout Ireland’s off-shore venues, mostly ranging in size from a few pounds and up to double figures. The really large fish, that is to say “lunkers” pushing specimen weight and over are fairly rare on the north coast, which is unusual considering the excellent Ling fishing further north in Norway’s waters. It is the off-shore wrecks of the Cork coastal waters that consistently produce the goods. Reports emanate from East Ferry, Crosshaven, Courtmacsherry, Kinsale, Cork Harbour, Cobh, and Union Hall, but many of these ports target the same off-shore areas, the wealth of sunken wrecks lying 20-40 miles out.
Other venues are Valentia, Baltimore and Castletownbere. There is good Ling fishing out of Bellmullet, but rarely of specimen size. I was lucky enough to find a specimen out over the Klondyke reef from Belfast Lough. This was whilst targeting Cuckoo Wrasse in 400 feet of water on light tackle. Although Ling are present in this area, it is rare to find one over 10lbs.
A young "me" with an Irish Specimen Ling taken over the Klondyke Reef, Irish Sea
When to catch
A reasonably long season for Ling with catches stretching from May through to October. Having said that, winter wreck fishing can be excellent when weather conditions allow boat anglers to venture large distances off-shore.
Big fish baits are favoured, and almost always Mackerel flappers or whole fillets for the larger specimens. Whole squid or a cocktail of Mackerel and Squid can also work very well. Interestingly, the occasional specimen is taken on artificial lures.
Use any of the baits listed above in conjunction with heavy-duty feather rigs, including strong, sharp hooks. A short, running ledger will work well, or simply a baited pirk with the treble-hook replaced by a large single hook. Ling are equipped with sharp teeth, so hook lengths should be constructed with heavy nylon, or wire to deal with bonus Conger Eels. Hook sizes should reflect the size of bait, so 4/0 to 8/0 hooks in a strong wire pattern would be ideal.