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Saithe and cod feast on pearlside

HB Grandi’s factory trawler Helga María AK docked in Reykjavík yesterday morning after spending most of the last month fishing off the south and south-west of Iceland.

According to skipper Eiríkur Ragnarsson, this was a bad weather trip from start to finish with slow but steady fishing.
‘We started the trip on the Reykjanes shallows and in the Skerja Deeps where there wasn’t a lot to be had. After three days there we heard that saithe fishing was good on the shallow grounds off the east, so that’s where we went,’ Eiríkur Ragnarsson said, adding that at this time of year there is often haddock to be found around the Hvalbakur shelf and on the shallows to the north of it.

‘Unfortunately we didn’t see lot of haddock on those grounds, but I reckon it could start to show up soon enough around there and on the Breiddals Shallows,’ he said, commenting that fishing on saithe further east was not as good as had been hoped, with the impression being that the medium-sized fish were missing from catches.

‘This was mostly large saithe that we were catching, sometimes mixed with cod. It’s easy enough to catch cod on the Hvalbakur Shelf and out on the Thors Bank there is plenty of large, good-quality cod to be found. The problem, as always, is to catch cod with other species,’ Eiríkur Ragnarsson said and made the point that the amount of pearlside to be seen on shallow grounds is much greater than has been seen before.

‘The large saithe appear to be mainly feeding on pearlside and the same goes for cod. It seems that the pearlside are moving further into the shallows and staying there for longer than we are used to seeing. So the saithe are more on the same shallows, at least they are harder to find on the deeper edges. This fits in with what people who have fished these areas for years tell me, that there’s no point looking for saithe in deeper water when the pearlside are in the shallows. But it seems that saithe prefer to feed on pearlside higher in the water, as where we saw the thickest pearlside marks on the bottom, there were no saithe to be seen.’