Porgy Fishing-101by Capt. Terry Rand
The porgy, also referred to as scup, are the saltwater equivalent to the freshwater bluegill. They are relatively small, tasty and when you find one, you will usually find more. There is no better way to introduce the uninitiated to the saltwater world than to introduce them to porgy fishing. They are easy to find and the action can be fast and furious.
Porgy feed mostly on small crustaceans like barnacles and mussels. Since their main forage take up residence around rock piles and reefs so do the porgy. They will stay close to the structure and use the down tide side of the rocks and boulders to break the current and feed without expending as much energy. If you can locate structure such as this in water from 15’ - 60’ deep, you can catch porgy.
The most common method for catching porgy is to anchor over fish holding structure and lower baited hooks directly over the side of the boat. Two to four ounces of weight in conjunction with a hi-lo rig baited with sandworms or squid strips is a staple approach in the northeast. Employing a chum pot loaded with clam chum will bring the fish in behind your boat and once you get them there the action is just non-stop.
Another method that can work very effectively is to drift with the tide over structure that is holding fish. Many reef systems are expansive and can hold porgy in various areas. These can be excellent areas to drift fish since you can cover lots of water and long distances before you have to fire up the motor and restart a drift. This can also be a great way to find areas that are holding schools of larger sized porgies. Once a large fish is caught during a drift, mark that spot on the GPS and attempt to anchor over that area to maximize the size of your catch.
For the angler who is shore bound, there are still plenty of opportunities to catch these fish. Beaches with rock piles in reach of the shore will hold porgy as well as most rock jetties, piers and docks. Boat launch areas on the shoreline usually have rocky structure nearby that can be access by shore fisherman.
Keeping the tackle as light as possible maximizes the sport of fighting these fish. Spinning rods that can handle a couple of ounces of weight are preferred. Conventional tackle fit for blackfish and flounder will also do the job and will also make presenting baits in deep water with heavier sinkers much easier.
Catching all those large bluefish, stripers and blackfish can be a load of fun but don’t over look the scrappiness and tasty fillets that porgy have to offer. When the conditions are right, one boat can easily land 50 – 100 fish in a day. And, if you are looking to bring some beginners or kids out for the day, what better way to introduce someone to the saltwater that to have them pulling in fish, one after another?