Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Offshore fishing in wintertime on a party boat is heaven

By DICK PINNEY December 10. 2016 11:18PM


AT THE risk of sounding like a broken record, we indeed need to report on our most recent trip some 30 miles offshore fishing for groundfish with Eastman's Fishing out of Seabrook.

First of all, there are too many misconceptions about fishing on a modern party boat. Too many line tangles. Too many anglers crowding the rails. Trips too long. And this time of year, frozen fingers, etc.

First, after Labor Day it's time for the serious anglers to take over the fishing rails on party boats. You'll find only the most successful boats still taking on enough anglers to be profitable, as it's normally a two-hour trip to the most productive fishing grounds and you're looking at a lot of fuel just to get you there and back. Secondly, there are few boats that feature a heated rail and a heated cabin, and Eastman's late season fishing boat has both.

Even with a medium size fishing crew on board, there are enough mates to keep the fishing flowing by unhooking fish caught, mending broken line or leaders, providing lost hooks and sinkers and just plain helping you have a great experience. And later, they help fillet your fish.

Another advantage is that certain types of fish are on the bite, with the late fall fishing providing the chance to get in on the late-season bite of the bigger pollock, which is a fun fish to catch and great eating to boot. Also there's usually a pretty good bite-on from haddock, the cream of the groundfish, as well as occasional redfish, that some claim are the best of the best to eat.

We'll admit that some trips out to the fishing grounds you'll get hit by the hounds (which we reluctantly call dogfish). But if you are not familiar with how to handle these nasty critters that can cause a pretty nasty scratch from a barb on their tail, the mates are quick to be at your side and remove the dogfish quickly and without harm to anyone but the fish.

And speaking of dogfish, they were almost universally scorned as a food fish and tons and tons of them wasted at sea. That has changed dramatically as ways of processing these fish were found and they are probably the most sought-after fish in Europe for their tasty flesh, and source of most of England's famous fish-and-chips!

The Dickster has found out how to easily convert those nasty critters to great eating and we now always include a few of them in our take-home bag of fish.

So when we looked at our computer screen and saw a forecast for the following Tuesday for 60-degree weather, we immediately secured a spot on Eastman's boat for that day and we were happy that we'd have at least one more chance for a day at sea.

We have a regular routine when we go out on a party boat out of Hampton/Seabrook Harbor. We'll arrive in Hampton at around 5 o'clock in the morning, even though the boat won't sail until 7 o'clock. Ute's Gauon's Diner opens at 5, but we'll head across the bridge to Seabrook, check in at Eastman's office and pick up our ticket and then carry our gear and rods down to the dock and secure a decent place to fish by attaching our rod to the rail with a bungy cord. This is universally honored by party boat anglers that will acknowledge that that spot is taken.

We usually pick a spot near the stern as that is more sheltered and will give you a little more freedom. (It's also closest to the "head").

Then we'll head back over the bridge to Ute's for both food and entertainment. She's a hoot!! And that woman knows how to cook fast and good!

Prepare for an egg omelet the size of a pizza pan with plenty good other selections! Her pancakes are big enough to sit on out at sea if you get shipwrecked! And she has a vocabulary that is truly world class. It will even make this old salt blush!

Nothing better than being beaten-up by a boat's bounce. Arms and feet that ache. Shoulders that are complaining from fishing with heavy gear and landing fighting fish. Wind- and sunburn. And hands that with me often show signs of becoming part-time pin cushions for fish hooks that I've oversharpened.

Then, arrive home about 14 hours after we left there, a double shot of good scotch and off to dreamland, leaving my bag of fish in my own refrigerator to be cared-for the next day while reliving yesterday's fun experience and laughing about Ute's off-the- wall joking!

It's a tough life but somebody has to do it!

Drop us an email at DoDuckInn@aol.com and we hope someday we'll see you out there! (We've had several of our regular readers come over and chat with us while on board and we value those meetings so much!)

Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Reach him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.


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