NJ is at 1 fish right now. Was out a few weeks ago with 3 buddies in about 25' and got a nice 6# female. Hit the jig really aggressively and fought awesome. Excited for the season to start! Little bigger and I would have released her. I ended up with 3 of our 4 keepers on the day, so I guess I am not too rusty . We also got a bunch of tasty triggers!
For those that don't regularly read the Fishing Reports area - here's my good friend Capt. Mike's togging report from our trip this past Thursday:
"Took advantage of today’s balmy weather to hit the Tog grounds with Lep for a recreational trip and help him break in his new Grappler/Penn Clash set up.
Started in a favorite shallow drop in 30’ near Fishers and had a reasonably steady bite on the end of the flood but just one keeper Sea Bass and a few Tog to 15” with a bunch more shorts to show for 2 hours effort.
So, we moved a bit further south to a 20’ drop and as the ebb tide slowly started to run the Tog bite really took off. Enjoyed nearly 3 hours of non-stop action boating at least 40-50 fish. Only problem was 90% were shorts. We did manage to cull 5 keepers to only 4# and dropped a few other certain keepers. However, the big boys just did not want to come out and play today, perhaps as a result of the strong full moon tides. Regardless, it was still a great day on the water with a good friend and we both went home with some tasty filets for dinner. Life is good!!"
Edit - What Mike didn't convey is how hard he works to make sure we will come home with fish in the box. He's constantly checking his numbers, speaking with fellow charter captains on the phone, adjusting the anchor, as well as thinking (out loud, sometimes) as to where and how to upgrade the fishing that we're experiencing.
He is one hard-working 70-yr old, that's for sure. Honestly, I don't know how he can sail three charters back to back to back, and without a mate to help ease the workload. These aren't short days either, espeically when he sails off to Fishers Island and points North. Leave in the dark, and finish the clean-up in the dark. He is one impressive dude, and I've always been proud to call him my friend. If you think you'd like to give him and his very comfortable boat a shot, you will not be disappointed. He will never give you anything but his best effort.
Had my long-term customers John and son in law Ricky along with “celebrity “Chef Nader join me today for some fine Tog fishing on a beautiful fall day.
First drop was a popular reef in 50’ of water on the CT side of the Sound for 2 hours from the end of the ebb to start of flood. Action fired up right away with a few Sea Bass, both short and keepers, quickly followed by a steady Tog bite. First a 4# then a 5# keeper find the box, then Nader gets a huge hit that doubles over his new Loomis rod all the way to the butt! Nader struggles to get just a few turns on the reel but cannot budge this very stubborn fish. Almost as soon as the battle began it ended with a broken leader, which I found out to be only 20# Fluorocarbon. I highly recommended he upgrade to my 40# leader but he just kept kicking himself the rest of the morning over losing such a quality fish! Anyway, the crew went back to work and boated 4 more keepers, same size range, before the strength of the tide forced us to make a change.
Next took a ride east to try our hand at jigging some of the nice shallow drops on the west side of Fishers. First drop was all Sea Bass and we boxed a few more nice ones to 3# but the goal was Tog so we quickly made a change. On to one of my more reliable 35’ drops and after going through a few more Sea Bass and Scup the larger Tog started to mix in. First a 4# fish then a 6# fatty. As we marched towards reaching our boat limit Nader is still agonizing over the very large Tog he dropped earlier. However, his determination paid off and redemption came along during the last hour of the trip. Another solid hit resulted in a good hook up and very spirited battle that had the Chef dancing all around the cockpit before I slid the net under a super thick 8.7# fish. So, our final tally for the day wound up with a dozen fat Tog and 14 keeper Sea Bass that I turned into some quality filet before we headed to port.
And to continue with the Epicurean portion of our thread - Building on my first East-end tog trip of the season – with Capt. Mike (of course!), Mrs. Lep and I decided to make an old favorite – Baked Blackfish and Clams smothered in mixed fresh vegetables, with lots of garlic, basil, capers, pearl onions, diced scallions and of course, a healthy sprinkling of peperoncino rosso. We made our very light sauce from tomato, red wine and clam juice – and there it goes, into the oven at 400-deg:
And just 35 minutes later – onto the plate, over rice. Trust me, it tasted as good as it looks!