Story by Tom Paglianoli

The long awaited and eagerly anticipated blackfish (aka “tog”) bag limit increase commences Thursday, with six fish the limit through December 31. The minimum length remains at 15 inches.

Since July 17, it’s been beyond a meager one tog limit, and the past month a lot of catch-and-release fishing was being done from the boats, bridges, piers and jetties.

True, many of the blackies being tossed back were below the minimum length, especially those caught along the jetties and from the elevated structures, but not by much, oftentimes less than an inch. However, many were also keeper length, with some topping 4 pounds or better in the mix.

Now, it’s wide open, and the chew is chuggin’ like a freight train engine run amok! The ubiquitous green crab available at shoreline tackle shops is the top offering by sheer weight of numbers, but other “Tog Terminator” baits include hermit crabs, fiddler crabs, cooked shrimp (you read that correctly) and Asian crabs. The latter (and the greenies) you pick from under rocks along jetties, the aforementioned top duo a premium at shops specializing in togging. Be prepared to pay top $$ for hermits and fiddlers (read: second mortgage), but not so for shrimp, most likely the most under-rated bait when it comes to the blackfish’s taste buds. A frozen 2 or 5-lb. bag is available at any big grocery store.

Yeah, jigging for tog is now the rage. Impale a chunk of crab or shrimp on a slim jig head, lower it down and wait for the tap-tap-thunk of a blackfish passing the bait to its crusher teeth in the throat. The hug advantage when utilizing a jig is that getting hung up, a hair pulling/obscenity screaming problem when dropping into the snag-infested habitat frequented by this most toothsome rock ‘n wreck dweller.

No boat? No worries, as per the big swing action from the jetties, piers and bridges the next week or so. Then, it’s necessary to get afloat to fill the box. The top area party boat is the Carolynn Ann III (609-693-4281); the ace charter toginator platform is the comfy, lots-of-fishing-room Robin Ann (609-879-5269), both sailing from Barnegat Light.

Winter Trout Time!

The gift that keeps on giving is the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries as it conducts its two-day winter season trout stocking next Monday and Tuesday, synchronized beautifully with the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.

This makes the third stocking program of the year (the first late March to the Friday of the Memorial Day Weekend, the second October 10-18) and the fishing on these venues will no doubt remain excellent right through ice up…and through the ice on those swims where hard water fishing is allowed.

For 105.7 The Hawk trout fishing listeners, the stocking (numbers in parenthesis) looks like this:

Monday, November 20: Lake Shenandoah (230), Spring Lake and Topenemus Lake (190 each).

Tuesday, November 21: Birch Grove Park Ponds (180).

The daily limit is four.

The full statewide stocking roster is available at www.njfishandwildlife.com

The Goose is Loose!

Photo by Tom P

Hee-ronk, ronk RONK!”! is the call starting this Saturday in the South and Coastal zones with the re-opening of the Canada goose seasons.

As increasing numbers of migrating Canadas (as opposed to the obnoxious flocks inhabiting parks, golf courses, corporate parks and any place with an expanse of green), filter from the more northerly climes, the gunning opportunities intensify, the corollary being that these birds have already been the recipients of shotgun payloads and thus are much warier.

The daily limit in the South Zone is three, with five the legal take in the Coastal Zone.

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