Fishermen in Maine are on course for the best catch of menhaden in decades, the baitfish commonly known as pogies.
You may have seen the boats at work near shore this summer — two or three trawlers moving in a slow circle, as the crew places an open net in the water, then gathers it together, now filled with thousands of jumping pogies.
It's the third year of an abundant pogy run in Maine, after nearly a decade with none of the fish.
Video Credit: Mike Johnson
"It's a finicky fish,” says Melissa Smith, the state's marine resources coordinator. “Sometimes they are here, and sometimes they are not."
Smith's just announced the closure of large-scale commercial pogy fishing for the year. Although final numbers aren't in yet, it's clear that this year's catch of the oily filter-feeders will be the biggest since 1994, upwards of 6 million pounds. "We are still hearing reports of very, very big schools of fish. We're talking about, I think it'd be safe to say a typical American baseball field."
Some bait dealers say they are glad the large-scale pogy season is over. They've lost sales because some lobstermen decided to go after the pogies themselves. And the pogy abundance is easing lobstermen's anxiety, as restrictions on herring — another baitfish — begin to take effect.
Originally published Thursday 4:35 p.m.