Story by Tom Pagliaroli

Today (Friday) the daily limit for tog (blackfish) has been increased to five, up from one, and will remain so through December 31.

The minimum length remains 15-inches.

With hard west winds forecast for most of next week, it will indeed be challenging dropping rigs and jigs from a boat, what with all the rocking and rolling, not to mention the bone-shaking ride back in. However, this Sunday looks fairly decent conditions-wise, so get the wrecks, rock piles, reefs...any kind of hard structure, as the tog will no doubt be there probing for any type of crustacean or mollusk.

Yeah, this member of the wrasse family of fishes is a shell cruncher. Crabs, clams, mussels, shrimp, small lobsters...all are greedily nabbed by the buck teeth and then passed to the throat where the victim is crushed before going into the stomach.

This diet is why the fillet of a tog is so esteemed: firm, almost steak-like, and sweet without the slightest hint of a fishy taste.

While dropping the standard one and two hook rigs, including the double hook “Snafu” gig which employs two hooks in the bait to increase hook-ups with this sleight-of-hand bait thief, are the standard, the use of specialized tog jigs continues to put fish in the coolers and boxes, sans all the snagging and cut lines associated with fishing for tog.

Figure this: the brightly painted jig head, anywhere from ½ to 4 ounces, doubles as a sinker, with the chunk of green or Asian crab, or cooked shrimp (trust me on that one!) affixed to the hook and lowered to the structure(s) below. A one piece presentation, with no sinker to get caught in the nooks, crags and crannies., hence more time fishing. The tog, attracted by the hue of the head, sees and sniffs the meat, and then it’s crunch time!

Not all blackfish jigs are the same and frankly, the hook sizes utilized by many are more suited to tarpon than tog. If interested in the jigging game, check the John Skinner Series of blackfish jigs produced by the S&S Bucktails Company ( in Manchester, NJ.  Killer colors with hooks perfectly suited, size and strength-wise, to the small maw of even double digit weight blackfish.

Stan Gola from S&S Bucktails Company with a big tog caught on one of his John Skinner Series
Stan Gola from S&S Bucktails Company with a big tog caught on one of his John Skinner Series

Trout Time: Next Monday and Tuesday, November 19-20) is the “winter” trout stocking, with 18 select ponds and lakes in 11 counties being dosed with hefty 14-17 inch robust rainbows, some weighing over 2-pounds.

Lots of fun on ultra-light tackle, and a perfect time for the program, as it provides outstanding trout fishing opportunities during a holiday week and weekend. The bonus is that the trout will survive through the winter and will add to the numbers being stocked for next April’s trout opening day.

In The Hawk listening area, Spring Lake, Lake Shenandoah and Topenemus Lake will receive 240, 200 and 190 trout respectively on Monday.

Photo by Tom P
Photo by Tom P

Bird is the Word: No, not the turkey, but ringneck pheasants and bobwhite quail stocked for the traditional Thanksgiving hunting day.

Regarding ringnecks, it looks like this for The Hawk area hunters on the following wildlife management areas: Assunpink (460), Colliers Mills (290), Howardsville and Manahawkin (70 each), Manasquan (160), Medford (120), Stafford Forge (210) and Port Republic (70).

For bobs, both the Peaslee and Greenwood tracts will be graced with 600 each.

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