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     As spring arrives, so does the Pollock.  This fish is nicknamed "Boston bluefish" due to its appearance and fighting ability!

     Presented here is general information of Pollock, its reproduction, habitat, food, fishing season, angling tips, handling and cooking.
  • General information:
    The Pollock is a popular fish available to anglers from inshore bays to offshore banks and occurs on both sides of the North Atlantic.  This species is one of the more deep bodied members of the cod family.  This species lacks the dark lateral blotch and pale gray to yellow laterally and the belly is silvery.  Pollock range from olive green to brownish green dorsally and pale gray to yellow laterally.  Young pollock are darker and yellower on the lower sides than are older, larger pollock.  The largest pollock landed by hook and line in Massachusetts weighed 44 pounds 7 ounces and was caught at Cashes Ledge.  Pollock grow about 5 inches a year for the first 3 years of life, 2 to 4 inches a year for the next 3 years and about 1 to 2 inches a year thereafter.  A 5 year old pollock may weigh 4 to 5 pounds and measure up to 25 inches in length and a 9 year old 8 to 10 pounds and 30 inches in length.  The maximum age reached by pollock is about 19 years.

  • Reproduction:
    Male pollock become sexually mature at 4 to 7 years and females at 5 to 7 years of age.  Fecundity (the number of eggs a female produces in a given season) increases with age and size.  Large females may produce as many as 4,000,000 eggs in a spawning season.  Pollock generally spawn during the autumn and early winter in 90 to 300 feet deep.  Spawning begins when the water cools to about 48 to 59 degrees F.  The buoyant eggs hatch 6 to 9 days after fertilization and the larvae remain near the surface for at least 3 months before moving downward to become bottom dwelling juveniles.

  • Habitat:
    Like other members of the cod family, pollock live on or near the bottom in areas of rocky substrates.  They are found from shallow waters to depths as great as 600 feet, depending upon water temperatures and food availability.  Pollock can tolerate temperatures near 32 degrees F, but off the Massachusetts coast they are most abundant in temperatures from 51 to 68 degrees F.  Large schools of pollock migrate inshore during the spring and move to offshore waters in the colder months.  Large schools of younger fish are called "harbor pollock" move into estuaries and shallow bays in the spring.  They remain there until dropping inshore temperatures in the fall force them to move offshore to deeper, and at that time of the year warmer, waters.

  • Food:
    Pollock are largely daytime sight feeders.  Yearlings eat microscopic crustaceans such as copepods.  Adults feed on large pelagic crustaceans such as shrimp and small fish such as herring, sand lance, cod, haddock and hake.  Juvenile pollock occasionally are seen chasing schools of smelt through estuaries in the fall.  Unlike the more bottom dwelling cod, pollock will pursue schools of small fish at any depth, occasionally driving them to the surface of the water where frantic splashing can bee seen as the prey attempt to escape.

  • Fishing Season:
    Year round

  • Angling Tips:
    Pollock are aggressive, strong fighters that frequently strike at fast moving lures.  Anglers pursue pollock from party boats, private boats or shoreline.   Inshore fishing lasts from spring to very late fall, depending upon water temperatures, the presence of bait fish and the fortitude of the angler.  The larger pollock tend to gather in deeper, more offshore waters, while younger fish ("harbor pollock") frequent areas of the shoreline.  In deeper water, pollock are taken with the same tackle and rigs as those used for cod.  A medium/heavy 7 to 9 foot "cod rod" and a 4/0 conventional reel spooled with 40 to 50 pound test Dacron line are commonly used by anglers.  Lures are especially effective on pollock.  A 10 to 20 ounce Norwegian type jig with a dropper/teaser tied about 3 feet above the jig is a particularly popular rigging.  Attaching the teaser to a 2 way swivel by a split ring or bead chain helps make the action more effective and does not weaken the line as a dropper can.  When fishing with this rig, allow it to settle to the bottom; then alternately retrieve a small amount of line, jig the lure, and allow it to flutter downward before repeating the sequence.  Pollock most frequently strike during the flutter downward.  While most pollock are caught on jigs and teasers, they are also taken with bait, such as clams with entrails hanging off the hook or 1 by 3 inch strips of fish.

    In inshore areas, pollock are particularly active around breakwaters and other structures during moving tide.  Early morning and evening produce the best results, but pollock can be caught throughout the day.  Smaller inshore pollock are often pursued with lighter spinning outfits spooled with 12 to 15 pound test monofilament line.  One quarter to 2 ounce lures such as streamers, lead heads, mackerel jigs, Kastmasters and small plugs that resemble sand eels all catch fish.  A small strip of squid or other bait added to a metal lure can increase the angler's success.

  • Handling:
    A pollock should be bled, gutted and iced immediately after capture to preserve its excellent taste and delicate texture.  If they are iced in a large cooler the melt water should be drained occasionally so the fish do not soak in warming water.  If they are iced in a boat fish box, remove the fish box's drain plug.

  • Cooking:
    The pollock's light flaky flesh can be substituted for cod or haddock in most recipes.  Pollock can be poached, baked, broiled, grilled or put into fish chowders.  For an easily prepared meal, put a large pollock filet into a baking dish greased with margarine and cover it with a can of undiluted cream of mushroom soup.  Sprinkle with a little paprika and parsley.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or more, depending upon the thickness of the filet.  The filet is ready to eat when it begins to flake easily.  Serve the fish and sauce on a bed of rice and enjoy a delicious meal.
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