Disclosure: We may earn commissions if you purchase products after clicking on a link from our site.
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
Table of Contents
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Best Tautog Baits
1. Green crabs
2. “White Legger” crabs
3. Asian crabs
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.