Coastal Conversations 6/24/22: Pogies (Atlantic menhaden)

Producer/Host: Natalie Springuel

Coastal Conversations: Conversations with people who live, work, and play on the Maine coast, hosted by the University of Maine Sea Grant Program.

This episode:

Most fishermen will tell you that the presence of Atlantic menhaden on the coast of Maine is cyclical. In the last few years, menhaden, or pogies as the small schooling fish are known locally, have returned in high enough numbers to trigger a commercial fishery that holds promise for many fishermen. Their presence is fortuitous. Pogies have filled a lobster bait void left behind by declining Atlantic herring stocks. Many lobstermen, scrambling for bait to feed their lobster traps, have settled on pogies.

There are many others in the Gulf of Maine who are happy to see the pogies return in great numbers – chief among them: the predators like tuna, striped bass, bald eagles and even humpback whales.

On our show today, we explore the world of pogies, the fishermen who harvest them and the species like tuna who eat them. We talk with two fishermen who describe how the fish are caught and why the fishery is increasingly important to Maine fishermen. And we’ll hear from a scientist about how his research on Atlantic Blue-fin tuna also reveals the increasing presence of pogies in Maine waters.

-Return of Pogies (AKA Menhaden) to Maine
-Fishermen’s stories about rigging up to purse seining for pogies.
-Pogies as lobster bait
-Pogies role in the Gulf of Maine food web


Devyn Campbell, Boothbay Harbor fisherman (fishes for groundfish and in recent years pogies)

Dave Horner, Southwest Harbor fisherman (has fished for lobster, scallop, shrimp, groundfish and in recent years pogies)

Walt Golet, Assistant Professor at the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences and lead of the Pelagic Fisheries lab at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

About the host:

Natalie Springuel has hosted Coastal Conversation’s since 2015, with support from the University of Maine Sea Grant where she has served as a marine extension associate for 20 years. In 2019, Springuel received an award for Public Affairs programming from the Maine Association of Broadcasters for the Coastal Conversations show called “Portland’s Working Waterfront.” Springuel is passionate about translating science, sharing stories, and offering a platform for multiple voices to weigh in on complex coastal and ocean issues. She has recently enrolled in audio production training at Maine Media Workshop to dive deeper into making great community radio.