The launce is the larger version of the ever popular sandeel, generally known as a greater sandeel. They can grow up to 18” in length and form tight shoals.
They favour shallow inshore waters over sandy seabeds but can also be found around estuaries, harbours and piers. When they are threatened or during hibernation, they bury themselves in the sea bed, hence the name sandeel.
Their diet consists of very small fish, plankton and various minute sea creatures, where they suck their prey into their tube like mouths. Shoals can consist of hundreds of individuals and can often be seen swimming on or just below the surface of the water. It is possible to see thousands of greater sandeel being rounded up in a bay or on the shoreline by shoals of bass or mackerel who go on a feeding frenzy, literally crashing in the shoal.
Although often seen as a bait item for larger species, the greater sandeel is a great target for the LRF angler. Small hooks or jig heads holding fish or worm type lures will catch fish, as will small feather imitations such as Hokkai. If you hit into a shoal of launce, action can be non-stop, but also be prepared for shoals of mackerel, pollock or bass to join the party too.