On a day that the afternoon was booked with work, I decided to head out at sunrise to see if I could find some fish before it got busy. Leaving the dock at 6am we were in search of Mackerel out around the outer harbor islands. While drifting and slow trolling we marked what I am convinced was a massive school of pogies, our sabiki rigs bounced through the school with no hookups which is what lead to my conclusion. Continuing on, we found a few schools of Mackerel in some larger rips inside of Graves Light.
When we decided we have enough bait, I wanted to see if there were still some Stripers hanging offshore like the last few weeks. During our troll, the fishing proved to be a bit slower than it had been. It took just under an hour to find our first fish around Martin’s Ledge. The fish was very aggressive and hit like a bluefish in open water. She came up to the surface and with that slow, powerful pump of her tail I knew it was a Stiped Bass. The fish turned out to be a fat 36” and we were happy with the catch though it took longer than we had hoped. Getting closer to the time we needed to be off the water, I wanted to give some leeway if we found pogies on the way in.
On our way in, we just passed the Deer Island rip and there they were, flopping pogies. We saw one, then two, then three come up to swipe at some food on the surface. Pogies consume plankton which in turn produce the energy the rest of the ocean needs when they become prey. Though, when I saw them in their feeding behavior that means they are totally comfortable and there are not larger game fish below. Blue Fish and Striped Bass will stalk the schools and when a pogy tries to make a break for it, the game fish strike. So, a strategy while fishing with pogies is the snag and drop method.
You need a treble hook that is weighted down with lead. When you locate a school, you cast past it and slowly reel back. When you feel a “tap…tap…tap” that is your weighted treble moving through the school, and you act by essentially setting the hook; snag. When you bring the fish in, and you can tell the school you are near is being harassed by Stripers of Blues, put a circle hook in it and quickly return it to the water. If the school is feeding and seem to be calm, then gather the bait you need and move on until you find another school that is more active.
The schools we found were not being harassed so we had to move on, and with our time constraint we did not find a school being pushed by Stripers or Blues, but I plan to be back out soon enough. It is an awesome way to catch big fish when you do it correctly!
- Jack Murphy