Author: Captain Mike Littlefield
Tautog fishing is much like a tug of war. Once you hook one, the battle is on to keep it from going into structure. Many times anglers hook up on the bottom when fishing for tautog. My experience is half the time the bottom hook up is caused by a fish that takes the angler’s bait into the rocks before they even know it. This is where Bullbusters 80lb fluorocarbon comes into play, strong enough to cohere those big donkeys out of their holes.
Tautog (or Blackfish) is a great eating fish with a white delicate meat. That’s why anglers love to catch them. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management regulates recreational tautog fishing. The catch limit in RI until Oct. 14 is three fish/person/day, then it jumps to six fish/person/day on Oct. 15 through Dec. 15. In addition there is a 10 fish boat maximum per day limit (which does not apply to party and charter boats).
So, get ready, here are five tips to help you have a great fall tautog fishing season.
1. Find structure to find tautog. Tautog can be fished from shore or boat and in both cases they like structure (rocks, wrecks, bridge piers, dock pilings, mussel beds, holes and humps along the coast and in the Bay). So no structure, no tautog.
2. Fish where the fish are. This is particularly true with tautog because they are a territorial species, you have to find the tautog, they are not going to find you. So if you get no bites move to another spot. When you find them, you find them and the bite is on.
3. Boat placement is important. Find structure, estimate wind/drift direction and anchor up current from where you want to fish and drift back to the spot as the anchor is setting. Once in position fish all sides of the boat casting a bit to cover as much area as you can. If still no bites let some anchor line out (a couple of times) to change your position, if still no bites it is time to move the vessel.
4. Feel the bite… tap, tap and then get ready for a tug of war. I believe with the first tap the tautog is positioning the bait for consumption. So get ready to set the hook anticipating the second tap before the fish takes your bait into structure. Once the fish is hooked, keep the rod up and pressure on so the fish in not able to run for cover.
5. Where to fish for Tautog. From shore look for rocky coastline like Beavertail Point on Jamestown, locations off Newport and off breakwater rock walls along the southern coastal shore. From a boat I have had good luck at Plum Point light house next to the Jamestown Bridge, the rock jetty at Coddington Cove in Portsmouth, off Hope Island, General Rock in North Kingstown, around Brenton Reef and Seal Ledge off Newport, off Narragansett at rock clusters or the bolder field off Scarborough, Whale Rock, Ohio Ledge in the East Passage and any other place there is structure, debris, rock clusters, wrecks, etc. It’s good to find your own spots as popular ones often get overfished.
Spot lock for big Tog !
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Captain Mike Littlefield
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