April Fools Tog
Another cruel joke from Mother Nature.
While March came in like a lion and maintained a leonine attitude most of its duration, there were a few “Ah, springtime!” days that well, proved an injection of the fair weather fever. Well, April 1, the blackfish opener for the short shot 30-day early spring season, is going to be a washout.
Periodic heavy rains and winds 25-30mph pushing 5-8 foot seas make for a no-go Saturday. Sunday’s recovery conditions, while dry, will still be rife with winds and 4-7 foot “real sporty” conditions. Scratch that one as well.
Typical stuff, but the brief April tog opportunity generally sees the bulk of jig ‘n rig dropping occurring after the first week. Yeah, surrendering 25% of a short season might seem crazy, but overall, it’s generally the final three weeks that, barring bad weather and sea conditions, provide the best Fools Month cracks at the crunch.
Still, it will be a long stretch until August when the season re-opens with a measly one fish limit through November 15. (The next day, and through December 31, the limit increases to five.) So, to enjoy the game tugs and pulls, and delectable fillets afforded by this cover-loving, buck-toothed, and broad-shouldered gamer, it’s a short open early springtime window that must be squeezed through.
Tog can be found on most of the Garden State’s artificial reefs that boast a variety of tog-holding structures. Rigs and/or jigs will get it done, predicated on the depth, current, and type of structure(s) being worked. Top baits include green crabs, white leggers, fresh clam, and yes, freshly thawed cooked frozen shrimp. There is some noise being made about thawed frozen mussels, also in the grocer’s freezer case, of being an effective offering on either rig or jig.
We haven’t tried this mollusk meat as a tog tempter, but the sources have been reliable.
The daily limit is four at a 15-inch minimum.
For some April togging tips and techniques, check out the March 25 podcast of Rack & Fin Radio on 97.3 ESPN with tog ace Frank Mihalic, a well-known fishing writer, seminar speaker, and pro staffer and designer for Century Rods.