Fancy Catching Something Slightly Different? How About an Angler Fish?
The true Angler Fish lives in both shallow and deep water and there is regularly confusion over their identity as either Angler Fish or Monkfish. It is more a case that there is more than one variety of both and at some point the two species cross over. Some Angler Fish can legitimately be called Monkfish and vice versa, but then again, there are some Monkfish (although equally entitled to the name) which are actually from the Shark family. To go into that further would involve getting into the Latin names of the species which I'm not going to do here!
It is not the sort of fish that most people target but more the type that you would happen upon by accident when fishing for Flatties. They're prefered habitat is a sandy/mud seabed but gravel or shell beds also offer much of an attraction where they eat anything in their path, especially smaller fish and shellfish. Their enormous mouths are adorned with large, extremely sharp and backwards facing teeth and they even have teeth in their throats so as to stop their prey from escaping until it has been safely swallowed.
It is, therefore, advisable to use a wire rig when targeting Angler Fish!
A good rig to use would be the standard paternoster or flapper rig with a grip lead as an anchor on the bottom and a flowing hook trace of about 3-4 feet. This allows the bait to move freely and naturally just above the seabed giving a great presentation and covering a wider area. Good baits to try would be baitfish such as Launce, Sandeel or a strip of Mackerel, Shellfish or Squid. Use a strong forged hook.
Scotland is a good place for Angler Fish including marks such as the islands of the Firth of Forth and the Summer Isles. Also, the offshore reefs around Wales, many areas within the Irish Channel and around the Isle of Man, and the northern and southern coasts of Devon and Cornwall.
If you catch an Angler Fish, it is advised that you operate a catch and release system as the Angler Fish has been suffering from a certain amount of overfishing due to its lovely flavour. Although it is only the tail of this fish which can be eaten the taste has been likened to lobster and they are sometimes used as mock scampi. We would definitely recommend that you release any Angler Fish to fight another day!