Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Fishing for pollock late into fall
We love to fish well into the late fall season and often when the opportunities arise we'll fish open water when ice is forming. Our most fun with less stress on both body and mind is when we can get on a party boat that has one thing in mind - big pollock.
Pollock, we're talking fish well over five pounds and sometimes as much as 20 pounds, are a great fish to catch and eat. A lot of the people seem to have an aversion to eating pollock - those people with a strictly cod or haddock addiction. This is probably because they have eaten the smaller version called harbor pollock that haven't had the chance to grow into a size that offers some of the best eating of all of our local ocean species.
The average size of fall and early winter pollock caught offshore has to be at least eight pounds and each fillet will probably weight about two and a half pounds, enough to feed my wife and me. But eating isn't the whole reason we love to fish for this streamlined beauty. They hit a jig (way more often than bait) like they mean it and if you're fishing a teaser lure above your metal jig like most of us do, catching two at a time is just a matter of "it's going to happen sooner of later." When that does happen and you have two of these fish on your line at the same time, patience and a carefully set drag on your reel is needed to boat both of them. If you push your playing these fish with a heavy drag or fast retrieve, more times than not you'll either lose one of them from a break-off or lose both of them and all your terminal gear.
Pollock deserve special care after being caught. Bleeding them will improve their flavor. Also, put a wet towel or piece of wet burlap over the fish.
My regular deep-sea fishing rig consists of a good size quality conventional reel that has a good star or lever drag and a large line capacity. Seeing you'll be fishing often in water depths well over 200 feet, you'll want a reel that will hold at least 350 yards of 50-pound test line.
Although monofilament line is popular because of its stretch and large diameter, this is not the best choice. The alternative is braided line and we highly recommend it. This line is expensive so we do a trick called top-shotting. We'll put on a hundred or more yards of mono connected to 50 pound test braided line which in turn will have about 20 feet of 50 pound test mono line attached as a leader. We mostly use Berkeley Gorilla Braid line as it is a bit thicker than some of the other super braids and is much easier to untangle. Our connections are by a uniknot to uniknot connection. If you don't know how to tie this knot your local fishing counter person should be able to show you or you can find instructions on-line.
Norwegian jigs or diamond jigs in the 12- to 14-ounce sizes seem to be the most popular rigs but some of the new Butterfly-style jigs are gaining momentum. We've used both and still rig with the Norwegians.
A stiff and strong rod is needed for jigging for pollock or other species. This is because you need to keep the jig moving and with a wimpy-tip rod that bends easy, you are not transmitting the amount of movement to the jig that a stiffer rod would.
Our local party boat fleet from Newburyport, Mass., to southern Maine will be running late fall trips. Iced-in harbors are their limits. Give them a call and reserve a seat.
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.
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