Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: out fishin
Guys Welcome to the 2013 Tog Season
Here is a copy of the information we used to give out to those that attended our Hands on Seminars we did on the Celtic Quest with Capt. Desi. This info is compiled with many years of trial and error. You may or may not agree with the topics addressed but this has many key secret's to being a better Togger. ENJOY
NOREAST?S FIRST LEARN FROM THE PRO?S HANDS ON SEMINAR SERIES
CAPTAIN MIKE MARKS AND
CAPTAIN STEVEN CANNIZZO
1. SPECIES OF FISH- TOG ARE A WRASSE.
Family of bony fish, having thick lips, spiny fins, strong teeth, called tautog, blackfish, tog, bulldogs
2. FISH MIGRATION.
They range along the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to South Carolina;
There is no sustained fishery north of Massachusetts. These fish are associated
With rocky bottoms where they feed on a variety of mollusks and
Crustaceans (mussels, crabs, barnacles). They are normally slow swimmers
With a slow growth rate and they can live for as long as 34 years (22 lb).
The average fish that is caught by anglers is 6-10 years old (3-4 lb). Males
Are generally bigger and they live longer than females. Older males display a
Pronounce difference in their external features; the very large males have an
Enlarged white chin, with white margins on the pectoral and caudal fins.
Sexual maturity occurs at approximately age 3 or 4, and the males outnumber
Females in older fishes.
These fish do not undergo seasonal migration, but move inshore as sea temperatures rise in the spring, and they spend winter in offshore waters at
Depths between 80 ft to 150 ft. They first appear in New York Bight in late
March and early April, This is all according to current water temps on the bottom. Not surface temp. The water on the bottom can vary greatly from the surface temps they move inshore by the end of April each
Year and remain close to shore in depths ranging from 5 ft to 25 ft. This is also the time they move in to spawn. After the spawn which is triggered by water temps the fish will move a bit deeper and some will move back to the deeper wrecks. I have seen fish in July thru Oct. staying the 40 ft range.
They are more difficult to locate by July, until mid-September when they reappear. Some of the best fishing is in this second run which is late October-November, and then the fish return to deeper water. The location is all temperature related. So make sure you always know the water temps. I have taken a pool thermometer at times and dropped it down to the bottom to get a true reading.
3. location of the tog
Blackfish often share the same areas as porgies, usually rocky terrain
Including rock piles, shipwrecks and artificial reef. Blackfish instinctively
Head for deeper water once hooked, and it is necessary to turn the fish
Around to avoid the risk of having the line severed on sharp rocks or
Barnacles. Do not be scared to truly raise your rod above your head to stop the larger fish from getting back into the structure. These are very strong fighters and promise a memorable experience to the angler. Fishing for blackfish requires a more substantial outfit than what is required for porgy fluke, and other bottom dwellers. Experts recommend a stout rod about 7 to 7?6? ft in length with a long butt handle. The spool should also be strong with 30-60 lb test ?abrasive resistant? line. Braid for tog is highly recommend to increase your feel of the bite and help hold bottom with less weight in higher current areas. The terminal tackle should be equally sturdy, and the angler should be prepared to replace lost tackle often. Lures are rarely used during fishing but there are a few anglers that surprisingly land an occasional tog on a lure or jig. However, there are a wide variety of shellfish to use as bait including blue mussels, steamer clams, green fiddler and calico crabs, Hermits, Green crabs, and rock crabs, as well as the more recent Asian crab found under rocks of our local beaches.
Bait choice is something that requires a little experimentation. Tog are very picky when they come out of there fall hibernation. This is the time of year we usually will start with softer bait and not a Crustaceans. Clams are the bait of choice. Sometimes you can start with a clam and move them over to a Crustaceans.
This is something that is totally trial and error but I will always carry both baits in the spring for you never know what they will be feeding on at the time. Another bait that works well all year long is the Hermit crab. Hermits are softer bait and usually can be used the same time of the season as the clam. Hermits are popular bait on the North shore due to the fact it is more native to that area. The single most important bait is the Calico crab. Calicos are one of the native baits found on many of the structures the Tog live by. One other key point that I will mention here Tog has a keen smell. You must remember when you put bait down in deeper water the Tog relies only smell greater then any other sense to catch his prays. For some reason the Calico crab is the Caviar of bait choices. Now this is my own personal observation and other baits at times will work just as well but thru trial and error we see the Calico and rock Aka White leggers, land more and bigger fish.
Here are my observations.
1) Soft bait in the early spring (fresh clams, steamers and sea worms, Hermit)
2) Fiddlers are excellent in shallow waters?
3) Asian crabs and calico crabs are deadly around deep jetties and wrecks?
4) Whenever there is a heavy bergal (pest) population?. A strip of conch will usually do the trick.
5) White crabs are the preferred bait by most sharpies (including myself) ? but when the bite is tough? Without any reservations ? I will go to a HERMIT!
6) Green crabs are the standards and at times ? will outperform whites!?
7) When green crabs and whites are tough to find, blue claws are good substitute!
[img]ubicon8.gif[/img] When the bite is ?picky? You really can?t go wrong with white or Hermit
So you want to know about the difference between a stone and white crab? First, we divide the crabs into two types, the swimmers which have paddles, and the crawlers. The calico and blue claw are the swimmers, while the green, white, stone, and hermit, the crawlers. Swimmer crabs, have to be handled very carefully when you catch them since they are more delicate to keep alive for future use. They are noticeably more aggressive when you trap them and have to be prepared for safekeeping. The crawlers on the other hand, can be stored relatively easily and can be kept in a nylon bag for months at a time as long as you feed them. We catch the crabs by using fish baskets. They can be purchased from mail order houses like Memphis net. You set them up with fishing twine.
Now go into shoal waters around jetties or along beaches in depths from 7-15 foot of water. People use bunker to catch crabs, but any dead oily fish will work. But this is something you have to figure out on your own! Drop a few over the side, let them soak, and after a few minutes start hauling them in, one basket at a time, pull them up slow and steady. Now this is where you need to make the distinction between the swimmers and crawling type crabs. When you catch swimming crabs, you should declaw them right away, so that do not kill each other when kept together in a bucket or fish basket. It also makes it much safer when you reach in later on to grab a crab to fish with! Crawlers are just tossed into the basket, and kept separate. Along our shores in the NY Bight, we catch stones, whites, and calicos with a handful of greens. Up off the north shore and out east, you will catch much more green crabs. Hermits are always an occasional catch depending on the area where you put your basket down. To store your crabs, the swimmers, we prefer wooden fish/lobster boxes that remain half in half out of the water. This is the only way to keep the swimming crabs alive for a couple of days. You must check your crab basket at least every other day. Usually the dead and rotten crabs will be floating on top...toss them out. Crawlers are kept in nylon bags, and can be tied to the dock hidden under the water.
Never sink the bags into the mud though! If you want to keep crawling crabs alive for a few months, just toss a small fish rack or fish discards into the bag, or the crabs will start eating each other. Fiddlers are kept in a nylon bag that is kept half in half out of the water. Fresh dead swimming crabs are kept on ice for a day, then discarded. Hermits are kept in a cooler on top of ice, again, separated by cardboard or newspaper from the fresh water.
Now the difference between a stone and white crab has been debated by many of the fishermen who catch them. We differentiate the stone from the white crab by its size, even though they may be the same crab. A small white crab is called a stone, and when they get big, because of their white belly, called a white crab. Maybe they are different crabs, and we do not know about it, but if you use the above terminology, at least we have an idea of what you are talking about!
One thing about catching crabs...of course you toss back all egg bearing female crabs of any species. Second, I believe you need a license from the DEC if you want to keep more then 50. Be careful, even though calicos and whites are not the most popular table fare when compared to our local favorite the blue claw, you can be summonsed for having shrimp baskets full of these critters even though you intend to use them for bait.
Finally on the conch for blackfish bait. We have found it to be a fair bait during cold water fishing. I must say I have seen it catch some nice fish in January and February, when you had a shot of possible catching a cod. If it was used in the late fall and winter fishing, its primarily purpose was when you had ferocious perch life on a piece just tearing up your crabs, when you have a picky blackfish bite. It was not a bait that would slay the fish, so we never made any attempts to bring it along. If you are fishing deep water and having trouble feeling bites or have a very picky bite, then the conch makes sense to use as a bait, since at least
You have something left on the hook when you miss a few bites. Some party boats would bring it along, to preserve the amount of crabs they had aboard, especially during the winter when green crabs are tough to come by since it is a much easier bait to fish with for novice black fishermen. Unless you know of a dragger man who can get you some, I would not kill myself for use as blackfish bait
There is with out a doubt a difference in the way each color of bait works. But it all depends on the area you are fishing. I have had days where the red is better then the light green. It's is all a matter of trying till you actually notice a difference between the two. There are some days when it won't matter at all about the bait color they may be just biting well that day. But the trick here is to learn what and when they want it! Experiment, which is my secret weapon, is the key. I usually try my last successful routine before I jump to something else. When the fish are not biting well we will try everything as far as color baits. Rig?s till we find out what get s them going. You cannot go out fishing and expect everything to be the same all the time .That is why it is fishing? You must learn to adapt to every situation no matter what kind of fishing you do!
The fish coming out of hibernation and the salinity as well as the depth change put the fish in a sluggish stage. They are not hungry or as aggressive. Once they see an easy to eat bait you actually can entice them to eat. Once there is a feeding the fish will turn on. You just have to try all baits before you give up. I personally have found that the mild winters make my bait of choice still crabs. I have not had to use skimmers in 3 years. Most will start with skimmers but I find sticking with the hard bait with warmer winters works well and gets bigger fish!
5. TACKEL AND RIGS
Fiddler fishing... Lami MB963M and cut tip slightly.
Spring fishing... Lami MB1143F cut back to 11 tip and slightly off
the bottom to suit the fishermen due to its length.
Other options were the Mikes Special (inshore fiddler and great
skimmer rod) and MB 1083M for early spring fishing down south off of
Long Branch or in the channels.
Fall fishing...mid depths, MB1143F with 11 tip or cut to 12 tip, or
Shakespeare GBU 84 series.
Winter fishing...MB1143F cut to 13 tip. Fenwick 1206 (especially
when you knew their was a chance for cod) and MB1083M were also
Reels, newell 220, 4 to 1 and 3.6 ratios for shallow water.
Newell 229 as your all around tog reel.
Fall fishing, newell 322.
For fishing the deeper if using mono, the newell 332 and 338 were used,
but the newell 322 with 50lb spectra is all you need. Other then a
sidewinder, the newell was by far the best tog reel around.
50lb power pro spectra,
4/0-5/0 gamakatsu octopus hook,
either a 50lb or 60lb shock leader of 3 foot of trilene, ande or
silver thread mono for abrasion resistance, especially when fishing
Uni to Uni or Albright knot for connections.
Tie hooks with both dupont stiff and softer perlon leader material depending on how the fish are biting, or make the traditional Montauk rig, where you make a
Dropper loop cut one side of the loop and attach hook.
Usually longer leaders when looking for bigger fish, but watch the current and shorten the leader when necessary if the rig keeps getting tangled on the line.
Snafu with big crabs, but trim baits if the bite is picky....other then snafu rigs, use just one hook. Again cut crab legs if you are fishing areas with loads of current to prevent the bait from spinning.
If using mono instead of spectra, their are only 3 lines to use: jinkai, momoi and silver thread.
Use softer rods when using spectra, and don't stick like you are setting the hook into a tuna.
Flat sinkers to prevent your rig from rolling around, but when fishing inshore, a bank sinker works fine when fishing on rocks. Double up the loop on the bottom and put the sinker through this loop.
Best all around blackfish rig...MB1143F with 11 tip, with newell 220
3.6 and 50 lb power pro. Tip size will vary with weight of lead you need
I like ot carry 2 or 3 rods to adapt to this. I like to use the odd tip sizes from 11 ,13, and 15 for the true heavy sinker use. The use of braids has left my heaver tipped rods at home these days and using braid is the way to go for today?s togger.
Their are a number or rigs to consider...if you are fishing for big fish, then go to the Montauk rig, which is a big dropper loop that is cut at one end near the main line...the length of your leader now can range anywhere from 12 - 16 inches...I knew one fellow who fished this rig, as long as 18 inches, and caught many mule blackfish while fishing up north. When you have a picky bite, the blackfish, especially the bigger fish tend to not want to feel any tension on the line, thus the longer leader. Their are times though when you should go to a shorter leader when you get out to the deep water and have trouble hooking fish. You have to see what works best that day.
Your other option is to get straight lengths of DuPont leader material 40-50#, and cut them down to the size you like, preferably 16 inches for a single hook rig. This seems to be the best all around rig...one hook, one bait. If you are using a snafu' rig, fishing a large crab, cut the dupont leader material longer, so that you can tie hooks on both ends of the SINGLE PIECE...then make a dropper loop in the middle. I and other guys in our crew, always bring out 3 rigs, one or two rigged with a single hook on dupont leader material, and one with the Montauk rig....depending on what pieces we were fishing, is the setup we would grab. If you get onto real nasty reef bottom, you best bet is to get the rig with the dupont material due to having better abrasion resistance when compared to the regular mono rig. But if I am fishing rocky area like Southwest Ledge, or off Mass, in the Nomans area or Buzzards Bay, I go to the Montauk rig on 50lb jinkai or momoi line. I shy away from fishing two hooks since they increase the likely hood of getting hung on the piece, especially once you hooked a fish. 40 to 60 lb. Ande works just as well and I have been using this for years. Knots to know taught in the seminar will be, improved clinch, uni, uni to uni, droppers, sturgeons, snell, and palomer.
6. WHERE TO FIND TOG
Another thing that was raised was about my questioning the fishing in eastern Long Island sound and the use of extremely heavy sinkers to hold bottom. First, fishing in this area from roughly Six Mile Reef, to Fishers Island, is highly specialized. It is unique since this is one of the few areas where you have to fish a 'window' in the tides. I have only seen one area with tides as strong, and that?s at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay off the Cape Henry wrecks. Vineyard Sound off the Elizabeth Island Chain comes close, but I have still found it fishable in a running tide. If you have no idea of how to fish the tides in this area for blackfish, then you better find something else to fish for or learn to adapt. This might be the toughest area to catch blackfish in deep water from. Once the blackfish move off the beach, to waters of over 100 feet in December, there are only a handful of wrecks to pick from. With a handful of deep water wrecks like the Potato Barge, Berrateria, Thames, Hatchett Pt, City Services, and 2-3 relatively unknown large wrecks, there?s' not much to pick from.
And before captains from that area, start reaching for their Digitalis heart medicine for giving out such secret information, anyone can purchase any wreck publication from the Long Island fishermen, by Pete Barrett, and Tim Coleman, or go on the internet, and do searches, or pick up a Capt. Seagull chart to find the numbers to these spots. One thing that has happened with the advent and widespread use of the loran, and GPS ..their are very, very, few unknown spots, especially if they are large wrecks.
Spring Blackfish...Rockaway Reef and the wrecks and rock piles along
the east beach.
Fall Blackfish...By far the Sandy Hook reef...second choice would be the wrecks between the channels if you did not want to run that far south. North Shore...area around Six Mile Reef
Late fall and early winter...Southwest Ledge off of Block Island.
Fishermen buoy area second choice. Western edge of 17.
Winter...New Grounds/NE 17 fathoms/ Barges south of the BA' Buoy
Early Spring....Farms area and Long Branch, period
. Best wreck...every wreck has its day!
7. FINDING SPOTS
What?s a good place to fish? Anything on the chart would tend to be over fished, and in my experience, fish tend to be much smaller. For instance, I fish the N Fork and the popular spots out there are all just off the north side of Plum. There are too many boats on these piles and they all hold small fish which and tend to get fished out early.
The best spots I have are small piles, out of the way that are very difficult for the "weekend warrior" to anchor on. These always seem to produce the best fish both quality and quantity.
First grab a chart of your area. I use chart view or Maptech software, which is one of a number of good programs that you can store on your computer to view NOAA charts. The most productive areas for blackfish usually are ones where you see contour changes, where shallow water spots, lie next to channels, or just deeper water. Up in Buzzards Bay, we found points of land that stick out, that had rocks around them, pretty productive, and usually these areas are the first you try when you start fishing a area that you are not familiar with. An example of this was Woods Hole channel which connected Vineyard Sound on one side to Buzzards Bay on the other. Also look for spots on a chart, where you see lumps surrounded by deeper water. Once on the water look for visual signs of rocky bottom or even wrecks...Lobster pot buoys are the best indicators of rocks/wrecks in a area. Finally, look for areas marked rocky bottom on a chart.
Once you got that all down, it?s up to you to investigate these areas. Go and run your boat with the bottom machine on....this is the best way to find your own cherry spots and honey holes. You do not have to find bottom that comes up 5-10 feet to be productive for blackfish. Up in the sound, a few boulders, spread out, are good enough. Watch your machine while you ride along, and watch for
Hardness of the bottom, and even better, tails, which show even harder bottom. All a tail is, when you see this when you ride along, is a thickening of the bottom, that extends downward. This could just be rocks and stones that come up no more then a foot off the bottom. Areas like this get little pressure, so give them a shot. If you are looking for bigger fish in the Sound, use fiddlers and hermits for your bait, instead of the green crabs early in the season. Shallow water happens to be very productive for big fish. When I fished off of Woods Hole back in the 80s, we would fish rocky bottom spots as shallow as 7 feet of water, to catch some pretty big fish...This was in late October, and the first week of November up off Buzzard Bay. But remember, if you start seeing a vast majority of small fish, push out deeper, increasing water depth by ten feet on each drop till you find fish. Another thing about rocky bottom spots, is that sometimes, you just have to sit there, and build up the life.
Blackfish move around, and you can sit on spots for an hour with a pick of a few fish, then all of a sudden, you start bailing them for a while. Watch the tides, depending on the time of the year, since incoming or outgoing water vary
due to the temperature difference of the water, it can shut fish down. In October, I will try my shallow water spots first, see what size fish I was catching, then push out further into deeper water. You should realize by November, the bigger blackfish will be off the beach, which means going out into water deeper then 60 feet. Experience is your own best teacher with this, and you have to go out, and fish a number of spots in different depths to see where the blackfish are setting up. Then you develop a MO on how the blackfish move around in your area. Use one hook rigs as I mentioned before.
So what do we learn from this? First, get charts, of the area, and develop a game plan, on what spots you are going to both look for and fish. Instead of running all over the ocean wasting time, get highlight type markers, and make indications on a few areas where you want to check around for productive bottom. Watch water depths, especially as you get later in the season. Bigger fish move off the beach once we get into late October/early November, which means, you have to look for bottom in deeper water. Remember that many rock piles are good productive blackfish holding spots. It?s nice to drop on a spot, and you start to lock and load with the fish climbing up the line. I have seen, and this goes for fishing up north, where there are rockpiles all over the place, and you just sit, and pick a fish or two. Make a note of this and move on. Maybe it?s the time of the year, maybe its water temp...come back at another time, and recheck it. We have seen rock piles, where you anchor up and catch bergalls to the point, where your blue in the face...but if you see them slow down, or stop, stick around, since
sometimes, that is a signal that some blackfish may have moved onto the piece. If you sit on a rock pile and see nothing happening with the hard bait, put some skimmers down and see what happens. Sometimes this acts like a chumming effect, and gets fish into a feeding mode...the smaller fish start then after awhile, switch back over to the hard baits. Early in the fall, scup and seabass, can clean up on the softer fiddlers and hermits, so bring both the soft and hard baits.
Finally take note where other boats have anchored up. And when I say take notes, that?s all it means. Do not run over to an anchored boat just to get the numbers. Courtesy is the main point I can tell you when it comes to wreck fishing. Check out the spot on another day. With black fishing if you learn from/or using a 'ground' up approach' instead of everything given to you on a silver platter, you will be a much better fishermen. You start to think, and become a more
Efficient and productive fishermen on the water.
7. WHERE TO BE ON THE BOAT
Many times, good party boat captains, will move the boat slightly, once their boat setups, so that more customers can get onto a bigger piece, different part of the piece or more productive area of the piece of bottom. They will either back off on the anchor, take in some line, put briddles on, set two anchors, or just turn the wheel to redirect the boat to another portion of the piece....but sometimes, the captain, can knock everyone out by doing these adjustments. You can also be put on a very nasty piece of bottom where you get hung up almost every time you get down to the bottom. Reef areas in particular where rebarb is all over the bottom, is such a place where this will happen. Many pieces are not as big as the party boats that fish them, so you have to keep this in mind. You might be fishing in the 'mud' as they say and get few if any bites.
As we get latter in the season, their is usually more room along the rail to jockey around, or as they say, 'put your roller skates on' to try a different spot on the boat...the stern sometimes, is not the best spot on the boat. Many party boats have their transducers set just aft of the frontal portions of their boats, about where the
boats pilothouse is, so that the midship area is the first area where a captain usually setups since the boat is directly over the piece. This makes adjustments much easier for the captain, since he has a idea on how the boat will lay now, with the effect of both the tide and current on his boat. You might notice on the first one or two drops a party boat makes in the morning, that their will be a little more 'jockeying' around the piece as the captain is figuring out how a boat is going to sit in a certain area. Again currents and winds differ from one area to the next, especially in a area like the NY Bight. A west wind might not have much effect when you are sitting tucked in, to the beach in the NJ Highlands, but as soon as
you move slightly north towards Sandy Hook or south to Sea Bright, leaving the protection from the hills on the Highlands, that breeze can make a hugh difference in a way a boat is going to lay. Take a look at how a captain is setting the boat up when he initially sets up on his drop, to see what the most productive spots are along the rail of the boat. Of course days with roaring currents due to moon
tide periods or areas like channels which always have stronger current flows, will make it easier for fishermen in the stern portion of the boat. If you are towards the front of the boat, cast ahead to allow your sinker rig to settle under the boat. It is
extremely hard to fish on what we call 'angles' where you pole is pointed in one direction, and the line running off in another. You should always try to have the pole and your line, laying in one plane', which makes it easier, to detect bites, and stick the fish.
On some days, especially when the boats start moving out to deeper water like 17 Fathoms, you get what is called a 'cross current'. Your line goes down in one direction, yet ends up setting up in the opposite direction! To explain this clearer, just imagine, that you line is going down like you have a incoming tide on top, yet ends up on the bottom like you have a outgoing current...if you do a great
deal of winter black fishing this is very common. With monofilament lines, you will get a nice belly in it which makes it harder to detect bites. Gel spun lines lessen this phenomena since they have a thinner diameter, causing less resistance, thus work much better when you have these conditions. You want as straight a line going from your rod tip to the bottom. That does not mean keeping a ultra-taut line, which is really poor technique....you should just have enough tension on your line, to detect bites! You will notice that big fish will hit a bait, then backoff sometimes due to the tension you have on your line...slacken it off slightly! One thing you can do is to go to a slightly heavier sinker. Another is to fish a slightly longer leader, which lessens the tension from the main line when a blackfish picks up the bait. I know first hand, when I get that 'big fish hit' then feel little pecking from small fish the longer my crab is on the bottom. Many times I know its from keeping too much tension on my main line.
This is a great deal to understand, since it requires thinking on your part. At first it is not automatic when you fish on a party boat. But this is why certain fishermen on a party boat always catch more fish and bigger fish, because they pay attention to the small details. These are some very important tips to remember.
In regards to boat positioning? I must agree. The stern is not always the place to be because the Capt. will at times move the boat (to assure everyone catches their fair share of tog). However, if you want to increase your probability whether it?s a small piece or not? it is important to know where the transducer is located.