Turbot (Scopthalmus maximus)
Big rod-caught turbot can weigh 9 Kg (20 lbs) or more. The average turbot weighs around 3.2 kg (7 lbs).
NT – Near Threatened
The turbot is a left eyed flatfish, meaning that when viewed from straight on, its eyes are both on the left hand side of its body. It has a rounded diamond-shaped body which is scale-less and speckled brown on the back with a white underbelly. Despite not having scales it is covered with tiny rounded lumps or “tubercles” and has been known to reach lengths of up to 1 metre.
So how do we catch one?
Small whole fish such as sprats, sandeels or pouting make the best bait for turbot. Strips of fresh fish such as mackerel and herring are also effective.
The turbot is best caught in the summer months, with June, July, August and September providing the best sport. From October to May it retreats to deeper offshore water, where it can still be caught.
Favourite Feeding Places
The turbot likes to feed on sand or sand/mud seabed, generally around 1.2 Km (¾ mile) offshore beneath about 14 fathoms (25.6 m) of water. It is also known to feed in comfortable sandbanks in shallow water much closer inshore and to descend to about 40 fathoms (73 m) to find a suitable ambush spot.
Turbot can be caught across most British waters, with the best catches along the southern and south western coasts of England.
Best rig for catching turbot
A basic leger rig or a running paternoster rig are the best options when fishing for turbot from the shore.
Basic Leger Rig
This rig is used to lay hookbait on the seabed. The distance between the hook and swivel can vary, but should be at least 300 mm (1 ft). This rig works so well beause your line is able to pass through the weight’s “eye”, meaning that shy or suspicious fish can tug the bait without instantly sensing the resistance.
Running Paternoster Rig
This rig allows you to anchor your hookbait above the seabed and also lets fish take the bait without instantly sensing resistance from the weight. The distance between the hook and swivel can vary, but should be at least 150 mm (6 inches). The space between the weight and swivel on connecting line is also variable, but should generally be about 610 mm (2 ft).
A boat leger rig is the best option when boat fishing for turbot.
Boat Leger Rig
This is one of the simplest and most effective rigs for boat anglers. The space between the hook and swivel can vary, but should generally be about 1 m (3 ft). The bait is presented on the seabed and the line is able to move through the boom without hitting the weight which would otherwise scare off a bait-biting fish.
- Turbot favour live baits. A small fish, hooked through its upper jaw, behind the lip, is almost certain to attract turbot.
- If you’re using freshly killed whole fish or fish strips instead of live fish, try to put motion into your bait by raising and lowering your rod regularly to recreate the actions of a live fish.
- Once you’ve hooked a turbot, be as gentle as possible. Turbot have very soft mouths and so the hooks often rip through their mouths, letting them escape! Reel-in hooked turbot with as little applied pressure as possible, raise the fish from the see using a large landing net.
- Turbot travel in small groups when looking for food. Once you’ve caught one turbot, cast out again to find your second or even third turbot!