Episode one of the Tog Blog is about choosing your method when fishing for Tog, or Blackfish. Choosing rods and reels is generally dependent on how you will be using them and your tog fishing techniques. This means the lure, line weight, as well as the application. Regulations have pushed the Tog season back further into the fall but we still have an “Early Season” and later “Colder Season”. While many Tog enthusiasts only think of fishing for Tog in the fall, some target them during the spring and summer seasons. Tautog Fishing is all about having the right tackle, the right bait and the right method - we hope this blog steers you in the right direction.
When and Where to Find Tog
Think of a Blackfish as a hibernating bear. The mighty Blackfish awakes with fast action from hibernating in the deep waters of your local sound, bay or ocean water. These fish are hungry and on the move. They push into the local shoreline of the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England coasts. Spring Blackfish are generally working into the shallows to spawn so regulations are crafted to protect these fish. After the ferocious feeding period between April and May, blackfish blend into the backdrop of summer fishing. Targeted by limited anglers and a few spear fisherman they are generally left alone by human predators. As the temperatures fall Blackfish instinctively start the fat storing process of eating their way into those deep waters for the winter. This commute creates the Tog anglers fall season.
Tog Fishing Secrets
Some important things to keep in mind when fishing for Blackfish:
- Tautog prefer cooler water temperatures, which is why fall and spring are two of the best seasons for catching tautog in the Northeast.
- Feeding peaks at dusk and dawn. This is an inactive species at night.
When the season opens large numbers of fish are spread along the shoreline. The best areas to fish for tog are generally in hard structures like breakwalls, jetties, and small rock piles. These fish generally respond well to jigs, and shore crab. Once the water temps begin to fall further the Blackfish move off the shoreline and begin to congregate on larger pieces of rocky bottom. As this migration occurs the “bite” is often the best. There are plentiful numbers of fish and the pieces of bottom are large enough to accommodate several boats.The Best Rigs to Use
With deeper water and more tide/current comes more changes in blackfish gear. Jigs are mostly used on the very end of the tide or “slack” because the current is too strong to fish them effectively during the tide. Various rigs are preferred while the tide is running hard. The harder the tide, the simpler the rig. Top anglers prefer lead weight rigs in 10 to 30 foot depths. A high-low rig with a lead sinker is the best way to go so that it can be easily changed out for different size weights using a surgeon's loop. Simple rigs and cutting the legs off the crabs helps stop the crab from spinning and rig from tangling.Best Bait for Tautog Fishing
If you are looking for the best bait to catch Tog, Green crabs and "White Legger" crabs are very effective. You can also use Asian crabs and are sure to find any one of these at most bait and tackle shops. Cutting the legs off the crabs helps stop the crab from spinning and the rig from tangling - so be sure to bring a pair of scissors for the legs and claws.
With each stage of migration comes the change to structure, current and other factors that influence the choice in tackle. In the next episode of the Tog Blog we will discuss Jigging for Tog. We will cover the various jigs on the market, preferred rods and reels and jigging techniques.