A popular dish made with a local fish and an added kick.
The porgy must be one of the most prolific saltwater fish swimming along our coast. They are a prevalent species for several reasons. For one, they arrive in the spring and stay around well into fall. Also, porgies can be caught in many different locales from bays, inlets, and in the ocean, using varied techniques and tackle, making them easy for beginners and seasoned anglers alike. Of course, the big attraction must be the fine table fare these tasty fish provide, making them high on the East Coast’s favorite fish list! After porgies spawn in the spring, they will spread out and are prime targets for boaters and shorebound fishermen too. Kayaks are another great way to bring home dinner.
The required tackle is pretty straightforward: a light spinning or conventional outfit with 15-pound braid tied to a hi-lo rig, baited with clam, squid, or sandworm will quickly get the attention of any porgies in the area. If you want to try something different, use a small jig tipped with any of the aforementioned baits. With light tackle, the porgies will show off their fighting abilities.
When fishing from shore, look for some structure in the form of rocks and rubble. Docks are good places, as are inlet jetties. When in an anchored boat, chumming will bring them in big-time and will hold them in your area. You can also drift and catch well too. Remember to bleed out any fish you keep and get them on ice.
Now that you have some beautiful porgies ready for dinner, you can prepare them in many different ways. Some like to keep them whole and bake or grill them with the seasoning of their choice. Others like to fillet them and fry them to a golden brown crisp. One of my favorite ways is to make spicy porgy fajitas.
1 ½ Tbsp paprika
1 ½ tsp pepper
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp oregano
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 ½ pounds porgy filets, cut into medium pieces
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
Mix paprika, pepper, salt, oregano, sugar, garlic powder, and cayenne in a small bowl. Place fish in a large bowl or Ziploc bag, and add seasoning mixture. Stir or shake to coat well.
Heat a slight drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and peppers, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften and become fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add another drizzle of olive oil and add about 1/3 of the fish. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, remove from pan, and repeat with the remaining fish.
To serve, add a few pieces of fish, peppers, and onions to each tortilla. Add a little lime juice and garnish with cilantro and cheese.
Fishing for porgies is an excellent way for everyone to get out, have fun, and enjoy the bounty of our coastal waters. We are blessed to have such an abundant, tasty, and colorful fish navailable to anglers fishing from all platforms. Remember, the fun doesn’t have to stop after fishing. Cooking and eating this tasty meal was a fun experience for me!