Check boat schedules in the Report Section and invite yourself to the porgy party this fall.
There’s no denying that when porgies (scup) are on the feed, it can be lights out drop-and-reel fishing. During October and November, many party boats along the coast will head out to the rock piles in 70 to 130 feet of water in search of porgy paradise and they usually find it. While it may seem there’s more competition on a party boat, it’s actually more beneficial as the porgies froth up in a feeding frenzy to spark others around to bite. A few tricks will help you fill the cooler with party boat poke chops.
As porgies are mass feeders, there’s no doubt, the more hooks you put down, the more fish are going to bite. A manageable rig is a three-hook dropper tied with 40-pound Triple Fish leader roughly 40 inches long, but the real key is to lance on 12-inch snelled hooks instead of straight hooks to the droppers as the extra leader allows the porgies to hook themselves when they take the bait and run with aggression. Size #1 to #2 baitholder or beak hooks are the perfect size to fit in a porgy’s mouth. Add your own bells and whistles such as red, orange or green beads just above the hook eye as porgies really key in on the shape and color.
Contrary to general thought, it’s not always good to load up gobs of bait on the hook. A scup’s grunty mouth is small and pointed, adequately adapted to poke and chomp on small forage. When dropping down baits, cut bits of clam or squid no more than a half to whole inch long and quarter inch thick. Another great bait is to save all those broken and torn piece of Gulp baits you have from fluke season and cut them into small pieces to put on the hook. Fishbites strips will also work well.
Leave It Down!
While porgies are considered bottomfish, scup notably feed above the seafloor. Rock piles and wrecks hold fish at all levels of the water column, and personally I find that a good drop to the bottom and three to five cranks of the reel is a solid spot to let the baits dangle. Stay in communication with the mates and captain as they will be able to read on the fishfinder screen just at what depth the porgies are hanging at. Strangely, I’ve found that a slow jig of the rig gets the attention of large porgies by dropping down, then slowly lowering the rig and then slowly raising the rod again, in a sluggish, slow motion jig. Supersized scup seem to hone in and chase down the fluttering bait on the drop and get to it before the little ones do.
When you do set the hook on a hit, take a deep breath and have the patience to leave the rig down there. You will almost immediately feel the hooked porgy swimming, then another jolt, which means another porgy took one of the other baits, lift up and set the hook but not too sharply to shake off the other hooked fish. You can easily dial in doubleheaders and tripleheaders with this technique.
Fall porgy fishing from the deck of a head boat is nothing but a good time. Pick your porgy party boat and head out! Just be sure to bring a big enough cooler to handle your catch; with state bag limits in our region to handle between 30 and 50 fish a person, you’ll need to come prepared for winter feasting!