Filling in the Blanks Porgy, Cod, Ling & Pollock - The Fisherman

Filling in the Blanks Porgy, Cod, Ling & Pollock

2017 10 Porgy Cod Ling Pollock AUTHOR LING
Ranging from New England waters to the Carolinas, red hake or ling are about the best tasting fish you can catch off the coast, even if they do fight like a wet towel!

Garden Staters chomping at the bit waiting for striped and black sea bass to return do have options to start the month.

Jersey bottom fishermen are in a bit of limbo right now with the regulations closing black sea bass season until October 22 and blackfish at a one fish limit until November 15. So what does that leave us bottom bouncers with? I’ll tell you what – porgies, cod, pollock and ling will patch the down time together.

Besides the start of the fall run with striped bass and bluefish along the shoreline, here’s how bottomfishermen should be thinking of spending the “fill in the blank” period to start the month of October.

Porgy Pounding

Porgy fishing was red hot in September as bottom fishing aficionado Chris Czasynski spoke to me after jumping aboard the Dauntless early in September to load up on pork chops. “We had drop and reel fishing on porgies,” Chris told me later. “Literally, most people had their limits, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be there right now.” In September and early October porgies will be sitting in concrete rubble structure and wrecky areas in 80 to 100 feet of water at usual haunts like the Scotland Grounds, 17 Fathoms, the Farms and then move off in deeper water at the Shark River Reef and the Mud Hole area as October wears on. Porgies could also very well be stacked up inside Raritan Bay as well along the Keansburg Pier, Port Monmouth Pier and the rockpiles on the bayside of Sandy Hook.

2017 10 Porgy Cod Ling Pollock CLAM PORGY
Scrappy little scup – porgy around these parts – have shown themselves in good numbers this season along the Central and North Jersey coast.

In general, porgies will be hanging on the hardscrabble structure, and where you find one, you’re bound to find plenty. The key to “scup success” is to scale down your hooks to a 12-inch snelled size 1/0 beak hook with a green or orange bead in front of the hook, each snelled hook fixed on a three-dropper rig, spaced 12 inches apart. Bait up with small bits of clam and send the rig straight down to the bottom. Explore the rock bottom first and you’ll immediately know if they are home by the rat-a-tat hits as they machine gun the baits. Set the hook as soon as you feel the taps.

When fishing aboard the party and charter boats, the most important consideration to note is to listen to the captain to where the porgies are staging, because many times they will snowcone up the water column, sometimes even as far as 40 feet off the bottom. If the captain marks them at 20 feet, drop to the bottom, then reel in enough calculated cranks to 20 feet and simply let the rig wave in the current below. The pork shops will jump all over it. Want to become a proficient porgy angler and fill a cooler? Listen to the captain where he says they are holding.

New Jersey’s porgy regulations state an open season from January 1 to February 28, then the season shuts down until it reopens again on July 1 and runs through December 31. There is a 9-inch minimum size and a 50-fish bag limit, and they will be a prime target from now through the first quarter of 2018, primarily for the fleet out of Northern Ocean and Monmouth County.

2017 10 Porgy Cod Ling Pollock Fish

Count on Cod

You know how good spring cod fishing has become, and if that same bite goes down in the fall as water temps dip again and cod go on the feed on the midshore wrecks around 15 to 50 miles off, it could be lights out. Last year in late September, I jumped on a trip with Fishmonger’s Capt. Jerry Postorino, and we absolutely lit up the bacala at the Shark River Reef site. Though we explored the 30-mile wrecks first and found negligible life, once moving into the shallower waters of the 80- to 120-foot depths, the cod were there waiting for a fresh clam bait. Most of the cod were boxers in the 22- to 26-inch class but we did have two that broke the 25-pound mark that day.

Where the cod fishing is hot all depends on where the water temperatures are at the time. A typical cod rig for bottom bouncing consists of a 150-pound Spro barrel swivel, then 50-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon or TrikFish monofilament leader tied with two droppers spaced 18 inches apart, and at the end an overhand knot to loop a bank sinker of 6 to 12 ounces on. Equip with size 5/0 to 6/0 baitholder hooks and lance the hook with a 4- to 6-inch red or pink curly grub, then tip the hooks with clam tongues, bergall strips, or gobs of whole fresh clams.

Mixed in with cod will be the less typical pollock, aka Boston Bluefish. While cod will definitely put a bend in the rod, pollock will scream drags on you and you’ll know immediately when one has grabbed your bait. Cod give more of a pump-pump-pump fight whereas pollock tend to rip line off the reel and slash around their heads in attempt to shake the hook. Pollock will jump on those same cod baits, but if you really want to specifically target them, try baiting up with longer squid or bergall or bluefish strips and reel up a good 20 to 30 feet above a wreck and kind of jig the baits there in a slow waving method. Pollock patrol above the wrecks and will beeline in on anything that looks like a flailing baitfish.

In New Jersey, cod is open the year round, with a 21-inch minimum size and no bag limit. Pollock is also open all year with a19-inch minimum size, and again no bag limit.

2017 10 Porgy Cod Ling Pollock JUMBO COD
A number of New Jersey charter and party boats will turn their attention to deeper waters this month in search of cod; while most may be boxers in the 22- to 26-inch class there are enough 25-pounders and up to keep things interesting on drops.

It’s a Ling Thing

Yeah, so ling aren’t going to win any beauty pageants, but nobody cares when they are sizzling sweet in the frying pan. What used to be primarily a wintertime fishery has now become a summer and fall extravaganza as ling have changed their feeding patterns and location to coincide with more comfortable climes. It wasn’t up until about 4 years ago that the pattern really switched over, but it’s come at a good time as ling will no doubt fill in the blanks between seasons as catches can be fast and furious with 10 to 40 ling per angler on a day out on the fall bottomfishing grounds.

Ling fishing isn’t hard to figure out, but there is a methodology to get more bang for your buck. Start by attaching a 10-foot piece of 40-pound TrikFish monofilament leader via Albright knot to your braided line, then simply tie an overhand loop on the end of it for your bank sinker. Go about 3 inches up from the loop and pinch a loop in the line then proceed to go loop to loop with a 12-inch snelled 2/0 Gamataksu Octopus hook via Lark’s Head knot, securing it by tying an overhand knot loop with the sinker behind the Lark’s Head knot. That one hook rig will lie right on the bottom where the ling will be feeding.

2017 10 Porgy Cod Ling Pollock COOLER FILLER
While waiting for black sea bass to reopen on October 21 is making some bottom-bouncers twitch, the over-anxious eaters are already out along the rail in hopes of filling in the blanks while also filling coolers.

If you use a regular dropper loop 5 inches up, you will get considerably less hits than you will with a snelled hook lying right on the seafloor. Bait up with 1-inch pieces of fresh clam, 3-inch Berkeley Gulp! Swimmin’ Minnows or even a small bergall strip. Ling will attack baits that lay on the bottom, and if you miss a strike, simply let it right back down and the red hake will be there on the take again.

While cod, pollock and porgies are primarily Central and North Jersey targets, ling (or more specifically red hake) can be all along the Jersey Coast with a range as far south as North Carolina. The season is open year around, and there’s no bag or size limit. For those keeping score, the state and IGFA world record red hake was caught at the Mud Hole aboard the Jamaica II back in 2010 by Billy Watson of Lansdale, PA. The monster ling weighed in at 12 pounds, 13 ounces and was caught on a Gulp! 2-inch Glo Shrimp.

Let’s be real, New Jersey regulations bite right now; but we can’t just sit at the dock. In fact, there’s plenty of bottom bouncing opportunity for anglers looking to fill the coolers if you know what’s available and ready to be caught. Look to those porgies, ling, cod and pollock to help get you through and patch the fall season together!

2017 10 Porgy Cod Ling Pollock POLLOCK
Waterfront Marine’s Sean Reilly steps out of his Somers Point showroom to hit the offshore grounds for a big, surprise pollock.

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