Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Harbor Pollock

Foraging has slowed considerably now and many of our favorite plants have already begun forming the new growth that will eventually be next year’s plant. Fishing, too, has slowed down. But not entirely.

Much of my free time as of late is spent fishing for harbor pollock. These look exactly like the bigger pollock found in offshore locations, except they are far smaller. Still, what they lack in size they make up for in other ways.

First, harbor pollock are exceptionally abundant. Near-limitless schools of pollock enter inshore areas in fall and swarm around docks, floats and piers. Willing biters, harbor pollock readily take a variety of baits (I use clam necks) and artificial lures.

Pollock, despite their diminutive (rarely do these exceed 12 inches in length) size, fight well and put up a fine scrap on ultralight spinning tackle.

Finally, pollock taste great. Old-timers used to “corn” them, meaning to coat in salt overnight. The fillets are soaked in fresh water before frying or using in chowders. Some people fry harbor pollock whole, the same as when cooking a small trout. I prefer my skinless pollock fillets rolled in McCormick Seafood Mix and baked in a toaster oven. This is a greaseless way to a healthful and super-tasty seafood dinner.

Few others take advantage of this outstanding fall fishery. I suppose that by November, most people’s minds are on other things besides fishing. But for me, the chance to collect any kind of wild food is enough to get me out of the office and out on the water.

I thoroughly enjoy harbor pollock. And if you like fresh fish, you would probably like them too. Just go to the nearest harbor and fish near a pier of from a float. Try to hit an incoming tide when it is about halfway in.

Note that Maine has a recreational daily bag limit of 6 pollock under 18 inches in Maine territorial waters. Given the huge numbers of pollock and lack of people fishing for them, this is a rather silly law. But six pollock are better than no pollock and so I head out once again, cooler in one hand, fishing rod in the other.

The inshore pollock fishery lasts until well into winter. Do give it a try.

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