Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Pollock fishing should not be underestimatedBy DICK PINNEY July 14. 2018 10:13PM
This is the time of year when we're really into the catching of the larger-sized pollock, not the baitfish-sized fish that are great bait for catching large stripers. Nope, we're fishing on purpose for those pollock in the three-pounds-and-up size for some good table fare.
There's no big secret in catching pollock, and in many instances they are considered nuisance fish. But when we go offshore a bit and even out to the Isles of Shoals, we're quite happy to find schools of pollock (and sometimes mixed with mackerel) that fit our needs for some good eating fish for our own enjoyment.
There's really no knack to catching eating-sized pollock, but you many have to move around a bit to find fish that are big enough to fillet. The huge thing with catching and keeping pollock for eating purposes is that you MUST keep them on ice and out of the sun! Direct sunlight will deteriorate the eating quality of pollock "as quick as a wink!" So if you target these fine and often easy to catch pollock, you want to have a tote of crushed or cube ice on board. Along with that we'll keep an old blanket or rug to soak in seawater and cover the iced pollock in a tote that has drain capabilities.
Pollock have a bad rap as far as their eating quality goes, but we've found it's not the fish's fault! It's because the quality breaks down so fast under hot sunlight that good eating fish become trash quickly when ice and a wet cover is not used.
We'll keep them iced and covered until we get home, rather than filleting them while offshore to maintain the quality.
Time after time we've fed plates of freshly caught and fried pollock fillets to friends or relatives as the main course of a fish meal and time after time we get the remarks: "Come on! This is not really pollock, is it?!
It's all in the care and caution used in keeping fresh caught pollock at their best eating quality! Then we'll challenge most people to identify what kind of fish we served them and pollock is about the last thing that we'll hear as an answer.
When we get into schools of those big pollock, it's a chore to take the best care of our catch, but we've learned the hard way. Lots of ice is key and well worth the expense and trouble to keep that great table quality intact.
If we're catching a mixed bag of pollock and mackerel, we'll usually try to keep them separated, but there are times when both are hitting our lures or baits so frequently that it's kind of impossible to do.
Here's a trick as far as filleting the mackerel: We fillet the entire side of each fish intact. And then we lay the fish on our cutting board and make a cut on each side of the back bone and around the rib cage. This removes most of the bones. It's really not much of a trick to learn - and worth the effort.
Save your mackerel or pollock racks after filleting the fish and run that waste through a grinder when you get home. Freeze in plastic bags about the size of a softball and you'll have some great chum to start off with on your next fishing trip!
Enjoy your summer and get out and get you some! And drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.