• Posted by Nick Honachefsky
  • On April 15, 2019
  • Comments
  •  2

Jersey anglers only have a few more weeks to target tautog as the season closes on May 1st, but the bite is bubbling right now.

The key is to target shallow water depths as tog are on the migratory move back inshore. Depths right now from 50 to 70 foot are prime and will get even more shallower from 25 to 40 feet as fish move into the back bays by mid-May.

For now, the general school of thought is that blackfish mouths are sensitive from overwintering in cold water temps. Soft baits such as fresh clams get the nod to start out on the drop, but always be prepared with some greenies and whiteleggers on hand as well. If using standard conventional gear and dropper rigs, go with a 7-foot Lamiglas 7040CT matched with a Shimano Torium 16 reel spooled with 50-pound Power Pro.

My personal advice is to utilize a lighter, more sensitive set up and to get on the jig bite. Jigging tactics allow to feel a light bite, as you can really feel the chew out. A 7-foot Shimano Terramar TMSE70H spinning rod, matched with a Shimano Stradic 5000 reel spooled with 30-pound Power Pro is my go-to jigging set up. Gather up a bunch of 1 to 2-ounce S&S or Magictail blackfish jigs in white, chartreuse and orange/green color patterns to tie on via loop knot from a section of 40-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader. Tip the jig with a cut sliver of clam tongue hooked once on the hook, or if using crabs, cut the crab in half, insert the hook through the second knuckle and out the last knuckle on the end so the hook is exposed.

Blackfish will generally be on a fickle bite during the early season, so be sure to dial in the chew as it could change day to day. Let them nibble a bit first before you plant the hook, or if you are losing baits quickly, then adjust and hit on the first tap. Spring tog is usually lights out, but get on it now before the short season closes!


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