“Too Small” He Said

By Scott Lenox

“Too Small” He Said

Chalk us up for another day of January fishing!  We’ll take all the fishing days we can get in the winter time and today was another good one for some folks to get out and bend a rod.  I was even able to do some pond fishing with my old friend Captain Jim Emanuel and we had a great time catching crappie, bass, bluegill and pickerel.

Captain Chase Eberle of Chasin’ Tides Charters was on the rip today doing some tog fishing with some experienced tog fishermen and they had a great trip.  Captain Chase reported good fishing with the two largest fish of the day at 10.8 and 13.7 pounds.

Captain Monty Hawkins of the Morning Star was out there anchored up today as well and he had some photos of some nice fish brought on board.

Had scheduled a shorter trip today. Missed the best sunrise in weeks. Ocean behaved itself at least. Even saw air temps breach the 50degree mark for a short while.
Heather Holick of Spotsylvania PA was our guest reef builder.
Eddie Lee of NYC was our (default) pool winner.
Fished hard and only saw precious few keepers. Tagged a lot of shorts though; even released the (would have been) pool winner – science!
We’re going to have to tighten up on regulation. If duck hunters can figure out drakes from hens in the moments before they aim and shoot, tog fishers can learn male from female. As with so many species, it’s obvious.
Females have a sloped chin and mottled brown camouflage pattern with no lateral line. Males have a squared chin, grayish cast with a distinct lateral line. They often have a dot (or two or three) midship on their flank also.
When I put my own boat regs on tog back in 1992, I thought three fish at 16inches a good way to maintain abundance and spawning stock. After absolutely pummeling tog in the mid-1980s, we were not targeting them much back in the 1990s. Because a ea bass abundance was increasing steadily under self regulation, most fellows tossed back their tog (if any) and kept cbass. Three fish still seems sensible to me but now I’d make it only one female per limit.
When guys get on a piece (a reef of any sort) and find abundant legal females – that’s because they’re being thrown back by others who fish there. Pretty well defeats the purpose when one boat boxes limits of barely legal hens; fish left to spawn by others.
Three tog, only one can be a female.. Makes sense. Wish we could do it mid/south Jersey to VA. From the sounds of it, perhaps even up to NY.
Might do it by boat reg again. Even less.
Maybe.
Yesterday my supremely skilled anglers boxed two fish all day for the whole boat. One the two was blown-out by barotrauma and no candidate for release.
They certainly didn’t have to put 20-some legal fish back, they’re just serious about catching big tog.
Mr Kil Song would have swept today’s pool. A highly skilled angler, he was also far and away high hook. His big female went back sporting a bright yellow ALS tag — “too small” he said..
If we don’t do something soon we’re going to have issues catching any tog, not just jumbos.
Make no mistake, if we pulled up all the reef built in the last 30 years we wouldn’t have this fishery at all. Not even a little bit. What’s out there naturally would get fished off in a one week season.
It’s a man-made fishery of a species that (here at least) does not migrate. Should be cottoncandy to manage well.
Cheers
Monty

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