The tautog, also known as blackfish, is one of the most popular sport fish in the world, ranking up there with the salmon, walleye, and trout as fish that anglers love to catch. Anglers travel from all over the world to fish for this tough species. If you’re not familiar with the tautog or have never had luck fishing for one, take a few minutes to read this guide on how to fish for tautog, and you might be lucky enough to get hooked on this once-in-a-lifetime species.
The tautog is one of several fish species commonly referred to as blackfish. This family includes many types, such as black sea bass, porgy, croaker, and walleye pollock. Tautogs are a popular sport fish because they can reach large sizes and are challenging to catch.
They are highly prized by commercial fishermen and many trawler-caught tongs will find their way onto restaurant menus under another name because it’s generally easier to sell fresh fish than one that was frozen on board a boat offshore.
Best Places to Look for Tautog
Western Atlantic Ocean tautog may be found from Nova Scotia to South Carolina. The tautog’s highest distribution is somewhere between Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and Delaware Bay.
Because of the variability in water temperature, it has been seen to travel between bays and on and off the coast in response to the conditions. As a rule, it favors shallow water over rocky bottom areas, shell beds, or inshore wrecks.
How to Catch Tautog
The first thing you need to understand is that tautog are notoriously hard to catch. One big problem is that tautog are deep-water fish; you won’t find them in shallow waters or near rocky ledges.
If you’re hoping to target tautog off a beach, forget about it. You’ll need heavy-duty gear such as a rod holder linked to a boat in order to catch fish that are around 25 feet or more below the surface.
However, there’s one good thing about targeting tautog – they don’t swim fast enough to get away from a shoreline fisherman who takes his time and ensures that his lines drop deep enough into the ocean depths.
Tautog is a fish that has its own little feeding area and they stick to it. They are most commonly found in shallow waters in between any kind of structure; on or around piers, rocks, and sandbars. You can find them down about 20 feet but are most commonly found around 4 to 10 feet below sea level.
The blue mussel is the most common food item for tautog, whose diet consists mostly of mollusks and crustaceans. There are a variety of fishing techniques that may be used to catch tautog from the beach or from an anchoring boat in late spring and early autumn.
A variety of crustaceans and crustacean-like creatures, such as shrimp, bloodworms, mussels, and bloodworm larvae, are often used as bait. Despite the fact that it’s neither a quick runner nor a very active species, the tautog is a tenacious fighter.
Tautog fish teeth are tough enough to crash even shellfish so make sure the hook you use is also strong enough. The fish also has a reputation for pulling the lure too.
Your best option is to use baits with multiple crabs. Small green crabs can be found in most tackle shops across the country or picked on the shoreline if you have the time.
Which Rod and Reel Combination to Use?
In many cases, tautog are caught on surfcasting rods with spinning reels. If you’re going to be deep-drop fishing, though, you might want to switch over to a heavy-duty baitcasting rod and try snagging them instead.
The heavier line will make it easier to land large fish and they also tend to do better with smaller baitfish such as squid and sandworms. As long as you’re using enough weight, your hooks should be able to catch hold of their mouths; if not, consider using larger hooks instead.
It’s crucial that your equipment is strong enough for larger fish because there’s a very good chance that you’ll end up hooking into something big eventually!
Choose a Good Fishing Spot
Tautog aren’t particularly particular about where they live. They make their home in lots of different places and have pretty specific requirements for those areas to be good spots.
For example, where there’s usually a lot of cover and structure, like large rocks or sunken shipwrecks – perfect hiding places for tautogs but not so great if you’re looking to get one on your line!
There are also tons of underwater features that make up a good spot, like caves and ledges. These give tautog plenty of places to hide from predators while still being able to swim around freely. All in all, it’s important to know what kind of habitat tautog prefer before going out into open water.
If you don’t know how deep the water is, how far offshore you’ll need to go, or whether there will be any boat traffic when you get there, then don’t risk getting stuck out in open water with no plan B. There’s nothing worse than having miles between yourself and shore with no way back!
Are Tautog Edible?
Now that you know how to fish for tautog, you may also want to know if they are edible. Well, tautog aren’t only edible but quite delicious too.
Many fishermen consider tautog to be the best inshore Northeastern fish for the table. Even people who have never taken home fish before may easily filet tautog.
Once the scales are removed from the fish, you’ll have two pieces of firm, mild-flavored fillets. Tautog Chowder recipe is among the most popular seafood in the fall and winter months.
So that’s how easy it is to fish for tautog. Now that you know how to reel in and tautog, you’ll have a better understanding of what to do on your next tautog blackfish hunting trip.
Get out there and enjoy your tautog fishing adventure!