Torsk (Brosme brosme)
Irish Record 4.858 Kilo taken on 26.06.2006 by Jan De Bakker.
Specimen 6lb, or 2.721 kilo
This fish looks much like a Cod-Ling hybrid, but it is a species in its own right. The body is elongated with a long dorsal that runs most of the length of the body to the tail; the anal fin is about half the length and also runs to the tail. It has an extended barbule on its chin, and a large mouth. The skin is smooth and has a brownish-grey colouration, sometimes with lighter mottled markings. The flesh is extremely dense, and these fish tend to weigh quite heavy for the small size.
A specimen Torsk from a wreck forty miles off-shore
Where to catch
Torsk are primarily a deep-water, cold-water fish found mostly in the waters North of Ireland, Scotland and up into the waters of Norway. As far as Ireland is concerned, almost all Torsk are captured over off-shore, deep-water wrecks mostly situated off the Donegal coast. These wrecks lie in 100-150 metres of water, mostly twenty-forty miles off-shore and are realistically only targeted by hiring a charter boat and knowledgeable skipper. Most harbours that offer the service operate out of Downings, Port-na-blagh and Culdaff.
When to catch
Torsk are most likely present on these off-shore wrecks for the vast majority of the year. A great deal depends on weather conditions as to whether or not it is possible to safely navigate to these particular areas.
Mostly, Torsk are taken on fresh Mackerel, either as a strip, a fillet, a flapper or on a baited pirk.
Although I assume the natural habitat for Torsk is a deep-water reef, the majority are taken in or close to deep-water wrecks. Once the skipper has put you on a short drift heading for the wreck, get a large mackerel bait down as quick as possible and hope for the best. I once chartered a trip out of Downings in search of Torsk. The angler to my left landed two specimens, the guy to my right landed one. I fished exactly the same methods, bait etc but could only find Coalfish, such is life!