Typical Size
25-30" (5-10 lbs.)
Decent Size
35-40" (15-30 lbs.)
Nice Size
40-45" (30-40 lbs.)
48.9" (50 lbs.)
Awards Program
Qualifying Size

20 lbs.
Genus/Species Pollachius virens
Common Names pollack, coalfish, Boston bluefish, saithe, green cod
Hot Spots Stellwagen Bank, Cashes Ledge, Georges Bank
Best Time Year-Round
Best Baits metal jigs, soft plastics, seaworms
Best Method Jigging

Pollock are similar looking to cod, but tend not to be as plump and have a much smaller chin barbel. Coloration is very different as well, with pollock being a gray blue on their upper sides, becoming a pale silver/white underneath. They also have a more deeply forked tail and a much smaller head. Like other members of the cod family, it is one of few fish with three dorsal and two anal fins. The mouth has numerous small teeth which do not pose a danger. Young pollock, known as "harbor pollock," live inshore and the larger adult fish live on the offshore grounds.
Pollock are a schooling fish - find one and you'll be into numbers.
Pollock live in a variety of habitats but generally are found at depths of 200 to 300 feet over areas of heavy structure and in temperatures ranging from 45 to 55 degrees. Unlike cod, pollock tend to suspend above the bottom, occupying the mid-level to lower levels of the water column. Feeding in large schools, pollock are much more active predators than their cod and haddock cousins, chasing schools of baitfish such as herring, mackerel, and sand eels. And although fish make up a large portion of their diet, they are also known to feed on large pods of pelagic shrimp and squid. They also will feed directly off the bottom on crabs, lobster, and juvenile cod and haddock, but this is not as common.

Pollock range from Greenland down to New Jersey but undergo seasonal migrations in these more northerly and southerly reaches of this range. Pollock are almost exclusively found on the offshore banks, however, juvenile pollock can be found in great numbers inshore. On the On the south shore of Massachusetts, this is where most of us are introduced to this species. These inshore pollock move in during the spring, where they often mix with mackerel. Unlike mackerel, however, they stay inshore much longer and can be caught all summer long and into the fall.

It is written that spawning takes place in the fall on the offshore grounds when pollock have reached eighteen inches or better (about three years). Unlike other fish that do not eat when they spawn, pollock feed voraciously all throughout the spawn. Pollock are prolific, but not as much as cod or haddock. A five to ten pound female pollock will lay about a quarter million eggs. The offshore jumbo pollock of 25 pounds or better may contain two to four million eggs.

You can fish for pollock with bait, however artificial lures are much more productive. Juvenile pollock will greedily accept seaworms and are often caught incidentally by fisherman targeting flounder. Clam has also been known to catch pollock, despite the fact that pollock do not eat clams off the ocean floor. They will also take cut bait such as herring, squid, mackerel, sand eels, and whiting. I personally have caught them on a simple tandem cod rig while targeting cod and haddock.

The most successful method for taking pollock is jigging. Setting up a jig and teaser combination is a killer rig for pollock and a whole lot of fun. Unlike cod fishing, where you bounce the jig off the bottom, pollock are caught by casting the jig uptide and engaging the reel before you hit the bottom. Some fisherman also practice a method called "squidding" where they flip the jig and teaser away from the boat, let it drop to the bottom, then engage the reel and quickly take up ten turns and then take five slow turns. If no strike happens they drop the jig back to the bottom and repeat the process until the jig is well under the boat. Personally, I like to work the entire water column until I find the exact area where they are feeding.

Fishing for pollock is an extremely important commercial and recreational fishery, but doesn't command as high a price as cod and haddock do. Here on the south shore of Massachusetts, numbers of charter and party boats take passengers out on all-day cod trips to offshore grounds such as Stellwagen, where fishermen routinely catch pollock. The commercial fishery for pollock is big, with much of the fish being used in prepared fish sticks and seafood salad. The flesh of the pollock is not nearly as white, flaky, and delicate as cod and haddock, and is thus, less popular. The meat is more like striped bass in it's flavor and coloration then it is like cod. It is often fried and grilled and due to it's higher oil content, contains more Omega 3 than either the cod or haddock. Care should be taken in handling and preparation to minimize the stronger taste.