I hope you enjoyed this weekend's tautog fishing episode on My Fishing Cape Cod TV! Not only was it my big debut in front of the camera, but also my big debut going tautog fishing.
Leading up to this episode, I had been told that tautog were in thick and heavy, so I knew my chances were pretty good that I might actually catch something.
In this behind the scenes post, I'll take you through the day, starting with where we launched, our bait techniques (which were more than a little gross for me) and how I managed to catch the biggest fish of the day.
Where We Launched
Leading up to the day of filming, we were watching and hoping the weather would cooperate. Tautog fishing season is primarily in the spring and fall, so with it being October in New England, we really didn't know what kind of weather we'd get.
Thankfully, it was forecast to be a beautifully sunny and warm day, with light winds for the morning and promising fishing reports.
That morning, we woke up bright and early to begin our trip. The marina and little bay where we launched are really beautiful and picturesque.
You can view the boat ramp we launched from in the map below.
I was super nervous to be on camera but also really excited to share this experience with Ryan! On our way out, we stopped to check out some action on the surface. We quickly managed to catch a bluefish and a striper before continuing on our trek towards the "land of tautog".
According to what I've learned, good numbers of tautog come into shallow water rock piles during April and May, and again during October and November. For this trip, we targeted rock piles in 18-28 feet of water, within the confines of the map below.
How We Caught Tautog
Tautog like to hang out in rocky areas where there is a lot of structure. They like to feed on small green crabs, which Ryan picked up the day before.
Alarmingly, Ryan decided it would be best to teach me how to cut up the crabs and thread them onto a hook. Knowing there was a camera in my face, and that I didn't want to look like a wuss, I went along with it...
It was pretty gross. A message to all the wives and girlfriends out there - you don't need to help your beloved fisherman with this to prove any points, you're literally cutting the legs off a crab that is still alive, then cutting it in half .
THEN, you take one of the Togzilla jigs pictured above, and push the hook of the jig through one of the legs. Then very gingerly de-shell the crab, so that all that is left is the meat
Ryan actually created a video tutorial all about how to catch tautog, which members of My Fishing Cape Cod can watch by clicking play below.
Tautog Video Tutorial
An 8 minute members-only tutorial which teaches the basics of tautog fishing on Cape Cod. Learn what gear works best, how to properly prepare crabs for fishing, information about good locations and more!
Once the bait is on a weighted Togzilla jig, you simply drop the bait down until it hits bottom and wait. On this day the tautog were in so thick that we could actually mark them on the sonar!
The trick with tautog is that they are very quick and can easily take the bait without touching the hook. Then, if you do end up hooking one, you have to pull it up quickly because the line can easily snag and break on the rocks below.
Gear & Equipment List
On one of my first casts, I dropped the bait down and immediately felt a little tug on the line. I jerked it up then started reeling it in, and what appeared at the surface was not only the biggest tautog of the whole day, but also the first fish I have ever caught by rigging my own bait! I was pretty excited.
After that fish, the competition began between Ryan and I to see if he could catch anything bigger than mine. We both caught dozens more tautog, but of course I won with the biggest fish of the day!
It reminded me of the day when we went out in the 12 foot tin boat and I caught a scup and a flounder and all Ryan caught was a shell
Tautog was a fun species of fish to catch, and if it wasn't for the wind picking up and the fog rolling in, we might have stayed out there for much longer.
When we got back, we filleted the fish on the dock and headed home. Tautog is a great tasting fish, with white flakey meat that is great to bake or pan sear. That night we had it lightly pan seared with panko and herbs, served with a salad and roasted vegetables.
I hope you enjoyed this episode of MFCC TV! Thank you for watching and reading!
Through the eyes of a fishermans’ wife, I’m excited to share my cooking and photography with you here on MFCC. I also teach busy mothers how to plan, prep and cook delicious & healthy meals for their families. You can learn more by visiting my website Creatively Delish.