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Fishing for tautog has become popular as it is exciting and it is good for eating. Tautog is difficult to catch as it is a bottom feeder and resides in structures, wrecks, jetties, rock pilings, reefs, etc. as it hides from predators as well as waits in ambush for its prey. Tautog can put up a fight and are known to break the line. They are also known to steal the bait from the hook. In this article, we share information and fishing techniques to help you learn how to catch tautog.

How To Catch Tautog
How To Catch Tautog

How To Catch Tautog

1. How To Catch Tautog From A Boat

You can catch Tautog with a basic tackle using bait such as green crabs, Asian crabs, clams, and oysters. You fish for Tautog in a boat using basic saltwater bottom fishing. Use a light conventional rod and reel setup. With the bait on the line, set it close to the bottom around structures, rock piles, boulders, jetties, bridges, reefs, moorings, mussel beds, and wrecks and wait to get a strike.

Initially, it will feel like the rod is being scratched. The “scratching is the tautog teeth chewing on the bait. Be patient and don’t set the hook yet. Wait for several hard thumps to set the hook. You must wait for the tautog to get the bait past its front teeth and deeper into its mouth before you set the hook.

2. How To Catch Tautog From The Shore

When fishing for tautog from the shore, you can use a sliding sinker rig which is also known as the Carolina rig or fish finder rig. With this rig, the fish can take the bait and move off with it without feeling any resistance from the sinker. Use a 40-pound fluorocarbon leader and a #4/0 circle hook.

Tautog can be found in inshore waters and can be found in structures, rock piles, jetties, wrecks, docks, bridges, etc. Spinning tackle is the best option when you fish for tautog from the shore. It is easier to cast baits out accurately and over a distance with spinning tackle than with conventional tackle from the shore. A 7-foot medium action rod with a 4000-5000 series reel is a good combination.

Tips For Tautog Fishing
Tips For Tautog Fishing

How To Catch Tautog Chesapeake Bay

When fishing for tautog in the Chesapeake Bay, look for wrecks, reefs, rock pilings, or other structures. Tautog uses these structures to hide as they wait in an ambush for prey. Tautog takes some time to get the bait past its front teeth and deeper into its mouth. This is key as you have to give it time before setting the hook. if you are too hasty, you will miss Tautog time and time again.

Blue crabs, squid, clams, mussels, and fiddler crabs are some of the bait used when fishing for tautog. A basic rig will work when fishing for tautog. Bottom fishing, casting, drift fishing, and still fishing can work when fishing for tautog.

How To Catch Tautog In Rhode Island

When fishing for tautog in Rhode Island, look for structures like rocks, wrecks, bridge piers, dock pilings, mussel beds, ledges, and humps. They will be near these structures where they prey on barnacles, mussels, seaworms, and green carbs. Bottom fishing, casting, and drift fishing are some of the fishing methods that are used when fishing for tautog in Rhode Island.

How To Catch Tautog In Maine

Tautog is found around wrecks, docks, rocks, boulders, and breakwaters. Drop your bait near these structures when fishing for tautog. Crabs, shrimp, clams, mussels, and marine worms are baits that can be used when fishing for tautog. Bottom fishing, drift fishing, and casting are often used when fishing for tautog.

Tautog Fishing Tips

1. Tautog are daytime feeders and become inactive at night.

2. Tautog is a bottom feeder.

3. Bring a cover or lid for the crabs and a pair of scissors to clip off the claws and legs. It is easier to thread a crab onto a hook with the claws and legs of the crabs removed.

Tautog Fishing
Tautog Fishing

4. You can find Asian crabs for bait along the shoreline by turning over bowling-ball-sized rocks near the high tide mark. It might take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to fill a small bucket.

5. Trophy tog will move straight for a hole or structure when hooked. Therefore use a 20- to 30-pound braided line with a 50-pound fluorocarbon leader.

6. Larger tautogs hide in the dark holes of structures and wrecks waiting to ambush their prey as they swim by. Therefore, you need to fish in the structures or have baited hooks right next to hull breaches in the wreck.

Tautog Fishing Tips
Tautog Fishing Tips

7. If you made a drop and after 15 minutes, there is no bite, move to another location.

8. From May to mid-June is the best time to go fishing for tautog. Additionally, the end of September to the end of October is also a good time to catch tautog. Spring and fall are the best for tautog fishing.

9. The daytime is the best time to go fishing for tautog.

Tautog Fishing
Tautog Fishing

10. Go fishing for tautog 3 hours before a high tide to 3 hours after the high tide.

11. Tautog likes to hide where there are smaller boulder fields, wrecks, break walls, pilings, jetties, reefs, and rocky slopes.

12. You can fish for tautog from the shore. Docks, jetties, and bridges are structures to search for tautog.

Tautog Fishing Ideas
Tautog Fishing Ideas

13. One of the best rigs for tautog is a high-low rig with a lead sinker.

14. When tautog fishing, many rigs will be lost. It’s just the price you pay to catch good size tautog. Always go prepared with extra rigs.

15. Use a wreck anchor when fishing from a boat over a wreck or set two anchors in a “V” configuration.

Tautog Fishing For Beginners
Tautog Fishing For Beginners

16. Tautog is notorious for stealing bait off the hook. Usually, you will feel a series of “taps” and then the bait is gone.

17. Crack the crab’s shell with the sinker before you send the rig to the bottom. This allows the scent to permeate the bottom and encourage a bite from the blackfish.

18. Braided line is a good choice for tautog fishing.

Fishing For Tautog
Fishing For Tautog

Tautog Setup

Tautog is a strong fighter and will easily take your tautog rig into the structure they reside in and break the line on the rod. Therefore, you have a stout medium-fast action, strong rod for tautog fishing.

A two-hook basic rig is one of the most popular tautog rig setups. Use green crabs as the bait for the two-hook basic rig. To have a good chance of pulling the blackfish out of the structures and wrecks while keeping a tight-set drag, use a 30 to 50-pound braid line with a heavy fluorocarbon or monofilament leader.

Use a rod with a length between 6 to 7 feet. The leader should be about 40 pounds with fluorocarbon or monofilament material. Additionally, the size of the bait rig hooks should be 4/0 and the jig hook size should be from 3/0 to 5/0 for jigs.

Fishing Tautog Tips
Fishing Tautog Tips

Best Tautog Baits

1. Green Crabs

Green crabs are one of the best baits for tautog.

2. “White Legger” Crabs

White “legger” crabs are used as bait for trophy tautogs when targeting deeper wrecks as they are more effective there than green crabs.

3. Asian Crabs

Asian crabs are effective when targeting tautog in the backwater, jetties, and bridge fishing.

4. Clams

Clams and seaworms are good baits for tautog.

5. Oysters

Oysters are also used as bait for tautog.

Fishing Tautog Ideas
Fishing Tautog Ideas
What is good tautog bait?
Green crabs, Asian crabs, “white legger”, clams, and oysters are good baits for catching tautog.
What tide is best for tautog?
Go fishing for tautog 3 hours before a high tide to 3 hours after the high tide.
Can you catch tautog from shore?
Yes, you can catch tautog from the shore.
Does tautog fight hard?
Tautog puts up a good fight and can take your line into their structures and break it.
Are tautog bottom feeders?
Tautog is a bottom feeder.
Is tautog healthy to eat?
Most tautogs are healthy to eat.
Can you use circle hooks for tautog?
Circle hooks can be used to catch tautog.

The Bottom Line

Tautog is a favorite of many anglers as they put up a good fight, are difficult to catch, and make a tasteful plate. They are bottom feeders and hide in structures, reefs, rock pilings, wrecks, etc. In this article, we discussed fishing techniques to help you catch more tautog.

If you are interested in walleye, you can read the walleye fishing tips to learn how to catch more walleye. You can also read how to catch salmon, how to catch croaker, how to catch whiting, how to catch sheepshead, how to catch mackerel, and how to catch pompano.