Tautog fishing remained strong prior to the storm. Last week while fishing the General Rock, North Kingstown area I met Captain John Sheriff of Captain Sheriff's Fishing Charters returning from Whale Rock, Narragansett, RI where he landed five nice keepers there.
I was fishing General Rock with my brother-in- law Michael Weaver of New Hampshire on Friday afternoon who fished for tautog for the first time. He landed four nice keepers, the largest was about 21". Michael was amazed (as we all are) at the fight tautog have in them once hooked. Pound of pound they are one of the strongest fighting fish as they run for cover back into structure (very similar to grouper which are commonly caught off Florida shores). It was such a pleasure to experience his (our) excitement as Michael reeled in a big tautog with his rod bent in half. As the fish hit the deck I yelled, "Wow! That's what I'm talking about." The fish measured 21 inches and was about seven and a half pounds.
Most fish that day were caught an hour after low tide with a good bite lasting until 3 hours after the low tide. We used green crabs cut in half and occasionally chummed with crab legs and crushed crabs.
Tautog tips have appeared in this column throughout the spring and fall and many of them deserve repeating as to catch this species my experience is that conditions, gear, fishing and boat locations have to be just right. Often times one angler may be catching fish and another one three feet away may not be catching fish. So here are some tips.
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, holes along the coast, etc.).
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.
3. Boat placement is important. Use electronics to 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. Green crabs and Asian crafts are the bait of choice in the fall, however, in the spring clam worms and clams work well as the tautog seem to like soft baits. When using crabs make it easy for the tautog to bite and take the bait. Break off claws and legs, cut the crab in half and hook it through one leg socket and out another.
5. Feel the bite… tap, tap and then get ready for a tug of war. Captain George Cioe said, "I believe with the first tap the tautog is positioning the bait for consumption." On the second or third tap I raise the rod up firmly feeling the weight of the fish (no need to jerk the rod up hard). Once the fish is hooked, keep the rod up and pressure on so the fish in not able to run for cover.
6. Use braid line with little drag. Braid line allows you to feel the fish tap. Monofilament line will stretch allowing the fish to run for cover.
7. Where to fish for Tautog. From shore, look for rocky coastline like Beavertail Point on Jamestown, locations off Newport, Point Judith and off jetties at South County beaches. From a boat, I have had good luck at Conimicut and Plum Point light houses, rock piles off Narragansett Beach and at Whale Rock, the jetty at Coddington Cove in Middletown, off Hope Island at rock piles and mussel beds on both the north and south sides, in the General Rock area in North Kingstown, around Brenton Reef in Newport and Ohio Ledge in the East Passage.
ASMFC to hold public hearing on menhaden Thursday night
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Public Hearing in Rhode Island on Draft Amendment 2 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden will take place Thursday, November 1, 6:00 p.m. at the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus, Corless Auditorium, South Ferry Road, Narragansett, Rhode Island.
The Draft Amendment presents a suite of options to manage and monitor the stock in both the short and long-term. Atlantic menhaden are an important species. As filter feeders they are good for the environment, are a primary food source for many species (including striped bass) and they are harvested commercially for the production of many products for both human and pet consumption.
Fishermen and interested parties are asked to participate in local hearings and voice their opinions about options presented. If you fish RI coastal waters, offshore or in Narragansett Bay, now is the time to voice your concerns about this important species. The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) as well as other recreational and commercial fishing groups are expected to attend the meeting and express their view on management options outlined in Amendment 2.
Recreational black sea bass fishery closes in Federal waters
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) fisheries division announced that the 2012 black sea bass recreational harvest limit has been reached. Effective 0001 hours, November 1, 2012, no one may fish for or possess black sea bass in Federal waters for the remainder of the 2012 calendar year, unless issued a commercial moratorium permit and fishing commercially.
Recreational anglers may continue to fish in State of RI waters within the three mile limit until December 31, however, federal party and charter boat permit holders may not unless they give up their black sea bass party/charter permit.
Party and charter vessels can request to get their permit back later (it is about a 30 day process to get it back). NOAA fisheries said it is different for vessels with a commercial limited access permit, they would lose the limited access permit for good if they gave it up.
In regard to the black sea bass commercial fishery in RI, effective November 2, 2012, DEM decreased the possession limit of black sea bass to 50 pounds per vessel per calendar day.
Council votes to increase commercial quota for spiny dog fish
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council voted to increase the commercial quota for spiny dogfish by 14% to 40.8 million pounds in 2013. This increase is good for commercial fisherman and those planning to process the species. It is also good for recreational anglers in that it will help reduce the number of spiny dog fish (commonly called dog fish or sand sharks) that are caught as a by-catch when fishing recreationally.
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain's master license, a charter fishing license, and is a member of the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council. Your fishing photos in JPEG from, stories, comments and questions are welcome… there's more than one way to catch a fish. Visit Captain Dave's No Fluke website at www.noflukefishing.
com; his blog at www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com or email him at email@example.com.