May 3 2022

Tautog Fishing from Shore | Spring 2022 Report


Tautog fishing from shore has been on my bucket list of Cape Cod fishing ideas for quite a while now. I've had some success in the past tautog fishing from shore, but it has always been hit and miss. That's why this spring, I decided to devote more time and energy into tog fishing from shore. 

Tautog fishing season on Cape Cod begins when tog arrive in late April, and there is an old saying that tautog show up when the dandelions bloom. So the other day when I noticed a bunch of yellow dandelions in my yard, I decided it was time to give tautog fishing from shore a try.

According to an old saying, the tautog arrive when the dandelions first appear. Dandelions are also edible, and this year my wife Lauren and I have been experimenting with eating them as a side dish. 

Tautog eat a wide array of different baits, but green crab is one of their favorites. This spring I've been setting a green crab trap baited with mackerel in a nearby estuary. I've been soaking the trap for 24-48 hours and have been catching 1-2 gallons of green crabs.

Green crabs are an invasive species which came from Europe during the 1800's in the ballast water of ships. Since then populations of green crabs on Cape Cod and along the East Coast of the US have skyrocketed, and many marshes and estuaries have them.

Green crabs are classified as an invasive species and are credited with wreaking havoc on estuaries along the East Coast. If you want to trap your own green crabs in MA, then you can obtain a letter of authorization from the Division of Marine Fisheries by calling 617-626-1633. 

When tautog fishing from shore I have been using the same setup I would normally use when casting for striped bass from the beach. For a rod and reel I have been using my 9ft ODM surfcasting rod and Van Staal VR150 reel with 30 pound braid and a four foot long section of 40 pound mono leader.

Green crabs can be fished on a single hook, on a hi-lo rig, or by using a jig. I've been using a Palomar knot to tie the leader to 2oz and 3oz tiger Joe Baggs Togzilla Lay Perfect jigs

The Lay Perfect Togzilla jigs from Joe Baggs Tackle do a nice job of presenting the bait right on the bottom, which is where tautog usually hang out.

As is true in most types of fishing, an important key to success is finding a good spot. I will talk more about what goes into a good shore fishing spot for tautog later in this report, but for now I will say that jetties have been most productive for me.

There are plenty of jetties on Cape which are publicly accessible. However, not all jetties are "fishermen friendly" and unless you have permission, you can't walk across people's property to access a spot.

I had been scoping out this jetty for years before finally giving it a shot last week. The tautog cooperated and I enjoyed a great trip with lots of action.

Tautog are a hard-fighting fish and they put up an exciting battle! This past week whenever I hooked a big tautog, I had to apply a lot of pressure while quickly reel the fish to the surface, in order to prevent the tautog from burying me in the rocks.

Over the past week I've been lucky to catch over a dozen keeper tautog from shore with the largest in the low 20 inch range. During one trip I even experienced a "tautog blitz" with bites on every cast. I believe chumming probably helped produce the fast action.

In the rest of this members-only report we'll dive deeper into shore fishing for tautog. In particular I will highlight my first tautog shore fishing trip of the season.

During this trip I encountered the best tautog fishing of my life, and the fact that I was fishing from shore made it that much more satisfying.

About the author 

Ryan Collins

I'm fortunate to have grown up on the beach, and I've been fishing since kindergarten. I have great family, friends and fishing experiences to be thankful for. Just being out there is enough-catching fish is just a bonus!

  • Hey Ryan, I grew up in Dorchester and was introduced to fishing on the Cape specifically under the Bourne bridge, I always fished from the banks and really enjoy fishing in the canal. I don’t live in Mass anymore but your stories and blogs always bring back memories and put a smile on my face 🙂 whenever I come home to visit I always make time for a ride to the canal and bring a rod with me for old times sake. Thanks for keeping the good times rolling!!!

    • Thanks for the comment Victor! I have also fished beneath the Bourne Bridge many times in my life. It’s funny how so many of us have fished in the same exact spots over the years. It’s great having you following along with My Fishing Cape Cod, and I’m glad the stories and blogs bring a smile to your face. That’s a big reason why I keep doing what I’m doing! Have a great spring and please keep in touch. 🎣

  • Great blog. I love the fact that you caught tog from the shore! Super cool that you two ate the fish with dandelions! Way to go with the cooking Lauren! It all looks so delicious. beautiful video Ryan.

    • I am really excited about the dandelions. Another local plant that I hope to eat with fish this season is Sassafras. Have you ever heard about it Leslie? Sassafras grows wild on Cape Cod and we have several trees in our yard. The leaves are edible and they taste like Fruit Loops!

    • Yes it’s nice not seeing much trash, however I think I saw a coffee cup in the marsh reeds while reviewing the drone footage. I will have to go back and pick it up!

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