Being able to slip out of work around 4pm on a beautiful day led to a great night ahead. We left South Boston around 5pm to get fuel in East Boston before we started our excursion. I had heard of and was worried about draggers and commercial fishermen using nets to remove full schools of pogies in Boston Harbor. On our way back from East Boston we started to look for our bait, and with the wind the way it was, it should’ve been easy. Though, I believe because of those commercial boats, we went all the way into Quincy Bay still without any sign of pogies.
We decided to throw some soft plastic lures and do some prospecting around Hangman's Island and some other rock piles close by. There were small fish around but nothing to be crazy excited about. Because of that we left those fish in search of the possible bluefish school farther outside Boston Light.
We had three rods out while trolling for Bluefish; one popper, one swimmer, and one deep diver. There seemed to be the same story outside as it was inside the harbor, just not much going on. Until we spotted what looked like a rip current in the distance, but something was different. As we tried to get closer we realized we could not keep up with whatever it was at trolling speed, and every minute or so there was a big swirl near the boat. So, in the process of switching gears again from trolling to casting again, we re-rigged and tried to keep up with this school of fish.
Once set up correctly we sped up in front of the school and waited for them to come to us instead of chasing them, it ended up being an enormous school of pogies being pushed very fast from something below. My first thought was that Bluefish had found the school and were going to blow it up any minute. I threw our snag into the school of pogies and was able to get one. While reeling it in so that I could put it onto a rod rigged with a circle hook everything seemed normal. Out of the blue my line started to rip across the bow at a pace much faster than what a pogy could produce. When the line came tight again my reel began to sing and I knew something had found my pogy before I could get it to the boat.
When Bluefish are around the school I have seen this happen before. But this fish dove down to 80ft and did not want to move, doing exactly what a larger striper would do. Now I am thinking that I had snagged a striper following the school and I had her by the tail or some odd place which is why I had trouble moving her from the deep. After a stalemate and a battle getting her head to face the surface, we were able to get her to the boat and figure out what really happened.
I did in fact snag a pogy, as I was bringing it to the boat this 42” Striped Bass inhaled the whole pogy and my treble hook, which was exactly what I didn’t want. The treble was deep in her and I was worried I would not be able to release her, but we also realized she was not bleeding at all. With her size I was able to stick my hand and arm in there to very carefully remove the weighted treble hook. That took up some valuable time. Getting her back in the water, holding her lip and he tail we put the boat in idle forward with an aim to get some water over her gills. There was hope but not much promise that she would make it, and about 7 minutes into trying to revive her it didn’t look like it was going to happen. As I was thinking about pulling her back into the boat she gave me a kick and now I could see her gills moving on their own again. After another minute or two she gave me a couple more kicks and one final large one to send her off, and we couldn’t have been happier. It was the perfect cap to a beautiful summer night, we had to work for the fish today, but it was all worth it.
In all we believe they were out this deep following this particular school of pogies because of the water temp. We read 62 degrees around the school, there as the rest of the harbor was at least 68 degrees.
- Jack Murphy