Tautog have turn out to be one of the crucial extremely sought-after sport fish within the Northeast. They’re, pound for pound, one of many hardest-fighting backside dwellers in our waters, and their white, sweet-tasting fillets are the bottom of many consolation meals dishes in the course of the chilly months.
The rising reputation of tog fishing brings a mob of fisherman to the tog grounds every spring and fall. Tautog stay within the nastiest construction they’ll discover–this implies rock piles, mussel beds, wrecks, dock pilings, and barnacle-covered sea partitions. With the advances in sonar and marine GPS mapping, such construction is more and more simple to find. Even anglers missing this expertise can discover tog by anchoring alongside rocks and jetties that reach above the floor. In reality, these might be a number of the greatest locations to seek out large blackfish.
Through the early weeks of the autumn tog season in Connecticut, lots of my favourite tog spots are in 12 toes of water or much less, with some as shallow as 3 toes. As the autumn goes on and the water temperature drops, fish retreat from the shallower constructions to deeper water. They take the other method in the course of the spring season, shifting shallower because the water warms.
When tog are shallow, it may be very irritating to discover a rock pile that isn’t occupied by a fleet of boats. On a weekend and even fair-weather weekday, lots of the bigger reefs turn out to be parking tons. There’s normally a cause these boats are the place they’re—these are large items of construction that may maintain giant numbers of blackfish of any measurement, from undersized fish to double-digit “togzillas.”
Anglers might be profitable on these giant, well-known reefs regardless of the heavy fishing strain and the bumper-boat situations. Nevertheless, simply since you see a lot of boats anchored up on one reef, there are nonetheless different locations you may go to seek out high quality fish. You don’t must observe the group to catch your tog restrict.
I desire to fish a lot smaller and infrequently ignored items of backside. Some are simple to seek out, even with out electronics. I discovered a few of my greatest spots by patrolling the shoreline on foot or by boat, searching for probably locations the place blackfish would possibly thrive. This requires endurance as a result of not each rock level goes to be productive. In reality, I usually work by virtually a dozen probably wanting spots till I discover one which pays off. There have additionally been instances I’ve discovered fish at each cease I made, particularly within the fall, when most rocky constructions maintain fish—simply not essentially giant or keeper-sized ones.
As anybody who has focused tog is aware of, typically it’s important to choose by the shorts earlier than you hit pay grime, which might be very irritating. Many boats fish all day and catch nothing however brief blackfish, however many smaller, lesser-known areas have a greater keeper-to-throwback ratio.
On bigger constructions, you would possibly fish all day with no keeper whereas watching the boats anchored round you selecting up high quality fish. Irrespective of the place you fish, you’re more likely to catch shorts, however on smaller rock piles, you must be capable to discover larger fish sooner, in the event that they stay there. On many events, I’ve anchored up on a brand new rock and my first drop has come tight to a stable blackfish. Usually, I then catch a couple of extra respectable blackfish, however after that, it’s all throwbacks.
That is fairly frequent on tiny rock piles as a result of while you drop down, you’re more likely to put your bait in entrance of the king of that rock rapidly. Does this imply that smaller rock piles maintain only some larger tog? Completely not. Generally, regardless of the scale of a construction, it could be loaded with fish and you’ll keep tight all day lengthy.
One other technique is one I name “fishing the crumbs.” I consider these as small rocks or juicy-looking backside contours exterior the primary reefs. This kind of fishing requires electronics. Having a number of chart choices might be helpful as a result of one in every of these rocks could present up on one chart however not exist on one other. Higher but is a live-charting function like Humminbird Autochart Stay or Navionics SonarChart Stay, which may discover construction that doesn’t seem on any map. Tog transfer between these smaller constructions on their option to and from the primary reefs or wrecks.
Having a couple of crumbs tucked away in your waypoints can result in catching keepers, and even trophies, on the top of the season when the preferred spots have been picked over. Sacrifice a bit of fishing time this season to go scouting for an out-of-the-way honey gap, and you may be rewarded with gentle crowds and heavy tog!