Story by Tom Pagliaroli

Blackfish (tog) fans get a second go-round with the April 1 re-opening of the season. It’ll extend through Tuesday, April 30, with the daily limit at four with a minimum length of 15-inches.

The toothsome tog is revered by a huge swath of inshore anglers, not only for its firm, luscious flesh but the challenge it poses when attempts are made to set the hook in the rubbery lips. Indeed, it can strip a bait with the speed and deftness of a sleight of hand artist, and on the average. More swings (hook sets) whiff than whack. This time of year, the cold water has them on the sluggish side, with the best fishing generally occurring the last week, maybe two, of the month. Green crabs still reign as the top bait, but fresh clam and also cooked shrimp will put blacks in the box.

Party boats will begin sailing for tog Monday, but a few, like the Carolynann III (Barnegat Light) will only be running Saturdays and Sundays through the month. The Dauntless and Norma K III (Point Pleasant), and the Jamaica II (Brielle) will be running daily. Top tog charters include the Robin Ann (Barnegat Light) and Laura Sportfishing, and Reel Reaction Sportfishing (Waretown).

Blackfish will begin moving to the jetties as April progresses. The Manasquan Inlet and Barnegat Light Inlet rocks can provide lights out yanking if the timing is right. The first three hours of the outgoing, with its warmer bay waters, is the fillet-maker time.

If you’re new to the jetty togging game and want to learn how to get some tog in the bucket, contact Fisherman Magazine field editor Bob Misak (609-848-3121). His knowledge and expertise are second to none when it comes to catching blackfish from the rocks, and he’ll get you out there and on the bite.

Flounder Pounder:  The winter flounder fishing is getting better by the day and should blow wide open by next week. Granted, the daily limit is only two at a 12-inch minimum, but the ones being caught are ranging to 17-inches and are thick as a brick. Ever delectable, once you taste the sweet fillets from a winter flattie, you’ll give your summer flounder fillets to the cat.

Pretty simple stuff when it comes to the catching. From a boat, drop a clam chum log over, and bait either a single or double hook rig with bloodworm or fresh clam. From dock or bulkhead, it’s pretty much the same: chum log down and baits in.

Barnegat Bay and the Toms River are paved with flounder and will remain so well into April. In the latter, the Mantoloking Bridge and the BI and BB buoy areas are producing solid catches. In the Toms, winter flounder success is synonymous with Island Heights, but do not overlook the Beachwood Community Dock.

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