Monday, September 23, 2013

3rd Annual Chesapeake Bay Kayak Anglers Tournament

A few years ago I got together with a couple of other kayakers (John Foley and Bryan Rusk) to start the Chesapeake Bay Kayak Anglers. Our goal was to promote kayak fishing, conservation of the Chesapeake Bay, and raise money for charity organizations. We accomplish this by hosting a tournament every fall to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic and the Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland.

This year's tournament was a HUGE success! Thanks to our growing numbers of kayak anglers, our tremendous sponsors, and our gracious volunteers we had 104 register this year! We are still putting the numbers together and paying some bills, but we set a new record for the amount we will be able to donate this year!

Here is the recap and the results:

Raw oyster bar and CBKA friend, author, and CCA rep Shawn Kimbro at the Captain's meeting. The oysters were donated by Tyler Sondberg of Great Eastern Shellfish. Shawn provided words of support and the local fishing report. What a great combo.

The Friday night potluck get together was a huge hit. It was a great time meeting fellow kayak anglers and swapping stories. The food was excellent including the donated crabs from Bette S. Kenzie of Easton, MD and coordinated by Dana "Coop" Cooper. And the Masgouf style open fire fish roast was provided by Mustafa Hussin(AbuMasgouf on snaggedline). Thank you, Mustafa and Coop!

Saturday came and the wind had not subsided. But, a number of brave anglers went out on the main stem of the bay to fish the bridge. The majority opted for the relative calm areas on the eastern side of Kent Island. Those that braved the 3' waves were rewarded with the larger and more numerous striped bass that were caught. Personally, I would have left the donated Carefree Boat Club chase boat at the dock if I didn't commit to be out there with fellow director Martin and volunteer photographer, Russ Hewitt. Alot more fish were caught this year including striped bass to 30" for the win. Another went 29" and several others in the upper 20 inch range.

Speakers at Saturday's awards included Ms. Ashley Jefferson of Make-a-Wish Mid Atlantic. Ashley provided some examples of wishes granted to local kids including a great video of little 8 year old Lateef meeting his hero, RGIII. You'd have ice in your veins if that video didn't reach you.

CCA MD Executive Director Tony Friedrich provided a summary of CCA efforts to "defend the fish" and brought along surprise speaker, Tom O'Connell, Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources Director of Fisheries. Tom provided words of support for our grass roots efforts of conservation and updates on DNR activities to support local fisheries.

This year we held 3 raffles. The regular raffle was for accessories, fishing equipment, gift certificates, books, and more. A second raffle for a Hobie kayak donated by Easton Cycle & Sport sold out! The 3rd raffle for a Jackson Kayak Coosa donated by Valley Mill Boats along with several other high end items was a great success.

Overall, our most successful event to date. Looking forward to next year. Thank you!!


Slam Division (Striped Bass + Bluefish + White Perch) - Sponsored by Easton Cycle & Sport

    1st - Richard Souder - 51"
    2nd - Jimmy McDermott - 44.5"
    3rd - Jason Pratt - 36"

CCA $500 Biggest Fish Award - Sponsored by Coastal Conservation Association of MD

    Richard Souder - 30" Striped Bass

BKD Prize - Sponsored by Bass Kandy Delights

    Richard Souder - 18.25" Striped Bass - Biggest fish on a BKD

Hobie Prize - Sponsored by Backyard Boats

    Richard Souder - Biggest fish on a Hobie Kayak

Striped Bass Division - Sponsored by Backyard Boats

    1st - Mike Rosa - 29"
    2nd - Chris Burke - 26"
    3rd - Don Huber - 22.5"

Perch Division - Sponsored by All Tackle

    1st - Roger Metz - 11.5"
    2nd - Nathan Oakes - 11 3/8"
    3rd - Ryan Altenburg - 11 1/4"

Largest Bluefish - Sponsored by Katherine Charters

    Don Huber - 10"

Lady Angler Division - Sponsored by Appomattox River Company

    1st - Samantha Ferline - 13" Striped Bass
    2nd - Michelle Vieraitis - 10" Perch

Blue Crab Division - Sponsored by Fisherman's Crab Deck

    Harry Steiner (caught the crab on a fly!)

Fly Division - Sponsored by Tochterman Tackle

    Mark Bange - 11.25" Striped Bass

Senior Angler Prize

    Larry Walquarnery

Grandmother Angler Prize

    Kaye James

For pictures of the event check out and!

Here's me with my lovely Fiance and her first place prize in the Woman's Division! I'm pretty proud!!!

Summer Fishing Catch Up and Fall Preview

Summer Fishing Re-Cap

Well as you all may have noticed activity on this blog has slacked off quite a bit with the departure of our resident kayak fishing addict, Pinch! I've been fishing a lot this summer, but due to lack of time the majority has been on the Potomac closer to home with only a few salt trips. 

I'll be the first to admit I am not much of a largemouth bass fisherman. The majority of the bass I have caught have been by accident trying to catch snakehead, but I am starting to come around on bass fishing. First of all, they are pretty aggressive, even when the water is warm. Secondly, they have huge mouths and will hit topwater which is exciting. Also, in the Potomac you can find them in some pretty thick structure that makes for some interesting fights! 

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to fish for smallmouth bass on the Greenbrier River in WV. Smallmouth bass used to be one of my favorite species to target and it was quickly apparent after two days of floating that I have become quite rusty!

Now that Fall is kicking into gear I hope to get the chance to get out more and find some rockfish fatting up for winter!

Here's some pictures from this summer:

9th Annual New England Kayak Fishing Tournament

NEKF Striper Shootout IX

I recently had the opportunity to fish the New England Kayak Fishing (NEKF) 9th annual Striper Shootout in Winter Island, MA. It was a great event and while I didn't find the big fish this year, I did find some smaller fish and I had the opportunity to spend time in some beautiful scenery with some great folks. 

Now, for the fishing! Fortunately for me, I have a friend that lives in Boston MA and he has an extra Hobie Revo 13 that I was able to borrow. I packed two travel rods, a few reels, way too much tackle, dry pants/top, fishfinder, visipole.... yeah I brought a lot! Since this was going to be my only trip in the MA area of the season, I wanted to be prepared! Plus, I had no idea where the fish would be/what they would be eating, or at least that's how I sold it to myself! We've all been there...

Anyway, we started fishing almost as soon as I landed. The winds were up, but the tides were right, so we decided to hit DI to see if we could find any rock around. We did not find any in the normal places, so we did some exploring. I was trolling an eel and I had a 1 nice run-off but no hook up. That was it! I was worried about how this weekend was going to go... 

The next day we had some work to do, but once that was finished we headed up to the Beverly Harbor area which was near where the Shootout would be held. We fished from about 6pm - almost 3am... and despite covering a lot of ground/good structure we could not buy a fish! Paddling back in over a very shallow flat we spooked some small stripers and we finally took the skunk off by casting topwater plugs. I had one go nuts at the boat and made off with my favorite redhed zara spook! Being that I was tired at this point I opted to ditch the treble hooks and went to a single 1/4 hook with a blue/grey BKD (one of my favorite colors). This was more effective and I was able to land a couple on it. Pretty slow!

The next day was Friday so we headed back to Tomo's (second time in), picked up some worms and eels since the fishing had been so slow the night before we decided we may have to troll the dreaded tube. Let me say this up front, the tube works but it is terribly boring and I would much rather catch a fish on a jig. No disrespect to the tube guys, there is definitely a skill to it, I just don't have it! Anyway, Friday night we checked into the tournament at the campground. We were late and missed the Captain's meeting which left us feeling like we had no idea what was going on the rest of the weekend. We also missed out on captain's bags, which sucked because they had some nice tackle in them! We both signed up pretty early, but they did it by order of arrival. Oh well, like I said, I brought way too much anyway! We set up camp and hit the water by the ramp because we heard from some KFA-NY guys that there were fish in close and we did not need to paddle across the harbor for no fish again. 

We headed out from the ramp and found a nice light-line where I thought we may find some fish. I saw one rock swirl under the light and I got a little excited... finally some fish! I cast a large black Bill Hurley on a homepainted 3/4oz jig right into the shadow line against the wall and let it fall. There was a light tap and I set the hook hard! It ended up being 33" and my largest of the weekend. We found a few fish later in the light line that were much smaller but still fun. They were caught on a 1/4 jighead and the same grey/blue BKD! There were tons of squid around and I think we had a hard time competing with the real thing. We called it quits late and decided to head back in to get ready for the morning. 

The next day we hit Manchester harbor. If you ever have the chance to go to the Massachusetts North Shore, check this place out, it's beautiful! We fished it last year and did pretty well by following the birds and catching fish blitzing. We also hit some shorelines for schoolies on topwater plugs, so we were hoping to repeat that and just get some numbers. On the way out of the launch we were trolling some small soft plastics and we both had rods go down at the same time. Neither of us hooked up, but we were already hopeful that our decision to hit Manchester was right! We started casting and I found a low 20" fish (I should mention that I fried my phone on the way to Manchester, so no pictures of these fish) on a pink 6" sluggo. This would prove to be the lure of the day for me. We kept going out of the harbor and we did not really find any more rockfish so we decided to drop some seaworms (sandworms) to see what was on the bottom. My friend caught this unusual fish which seemed like the mutant offspring of a sea robin, oyster toad, and blowfish. It was mean. More of a surprise to me, I caught a mackerel on a 1/2 jighead tipped with a seaworm. I live-lined this (about 14") in the rocks you see to his right and hooked up with a 28" rockfish (14" / 28"??? I love rockfish). 


Anyway, we kept fishing the falling tide and then some of the incoming and finally found some numbers! The incoming tide brought squid with it, which we were able to see by a nearby boat using a sabiki rig to load up on them. I started jigging my pink sluggo and figured out that the stripers would hit a slow snap and fall. It was hard to feel the hit with a 1/2 weight and the ripping current and I recall on one cast having the rock hit the jig at least 4 times before hooking up. My friend also caught some fish here, I think on topwater, plug, and jig. It was nice to find some fish! After awhile it seemed like they moved on so we did to. We found a small pod of peanutbunker getting eaten on top on the way back in on a flat and I was able to pull one out of there before they went down. All fish on this day were 20"-28". We got back late and decided to forgo night fishing. We got a pizza and passed out. 

On the last day we launched at the ramp in the camp again and had another slow day. There was a lot of grass in the water all weekend which ruled out trolling for the most part so it was hard to locate fish. We found a bunch of bait in the channel which turned out to be small snapper bluefish. I was using a sabiki rig and they were biting the hooks off! I tried live-lining the snapper and to my surprise I caught a 25" and a 30" rockfish on live bluefish. There were tons of bluefish in that pod bc my fishfinder was blacked out for some distance. We didn't find any other fish and headed in for the awards dinner. 

The dinner was excellent! Normally I am skeptical of Northern BBQ but this was just like we have in the South if not better! Stuffed, tired, and smelly we headed home to Boston to hose things off and pack for home. It was a great trip overall but not the best fishing unfortunately. I plan on heading back next year!!!

Here's a few pictures of the last day:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Jamaica Bay Tournament

What a great trip this was! This was my second year attending the Jamaica Bay tournament held at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, NY. We had around 12 members represent Maryland and Snaggedline this year. Everyone managed to land fish with a few catching some nice trophy bass.

 I left the Maryland area Wednesday at midnight and arrived at Floyd Bennett around 4 am to do some recon fishing before the tournament with Jack (Pinch) and Redfish (Michael). We all did pretty well, each of us had a SLAM that day with a bass, blue and flounder. Too bad it didn't count for the tournament but we had some good pullage.


Chef Jack....pancakes anyone?

Pancake burger...don't knock till you try it.

Friday - 1st day of Tournament -
Friday we wake up at 4:30 and head out to our fishing spot. Last year I tried trolling around tube and worm without any success. I vowed to never ever buy another tube again. Well, things were a little different this year. I started out trolling an x-rap and a bomber plug without any hits. I look to my left and see Pinch landing fish. I look to my right and see Redfish landing fish. Ok, time to change up. I set up one of my rods with a tube and a gulp bloodworm. Deployed the line and bam, fish on! Its crazy how the blue's are picky up in Jbay. Bluefish in the Chesapeake Bay hit on pretty much everything, plugs, rattle traps, metals, soft plastics etc. I did manage to pick up a few blues jigging BKD's and Hogy's but the majority came on tube and worm.  I only managed some blues this day but I believe Redfish and Pinch hooked up with some nice stripers. Fluke fishing was also on point this day. We used the "do nothing method" which is essentially dropping your jig to the bottom and doing nothing. Surprisingly enough, we kept landing fluke without even lifting a rod to jig the bottom.

Michael with a dogfish

37inch striper

Saturday - 2nd day of Tournament -
Saturday was an incredible day of fishing. Again, we wake up and head out at 5am. There were schools of bunker everywhere so we decide to put the tube and worm away and live line BUNKHAAAAA. Bunker is like spot up in NY. You drop it in the water and right away you have bluefish and striper attack it. This was probably the best day fishing of the tournament. We all caught numerous bass of 35inches. Biggest being 37-38inches. The bite kind of died in the afternoon so Dail (stupidjet) and I decided to move locations. We both still had live bunkah on our lines and slowly made our way to a different spot. At about 6ft of water, I hear Dails drag on! A nice 37inch striper!
Dail with a 37incher


Sunday - Last day of Tournament -
Sunday was just miserable. Like the rest of the days, I wake up at 4:30, look out the window and it is pouring down rain. Back to bed. We wake back up at 9am and decide to get a few hours of fishing before the end of the tournament. It was windy, cold and rainy. We tried for bunkha but they were spotty and hard to snag so we decide to fish for flounder. I had a few hits, managed to land a shorty but that was it for me. Dail (Stupidjet) was able to land a nice 19incher before heading back in to shore. Overall, it was a great tournament. They had close to 300 kayak anglers attend. Fishing was excellent for the most part. Will be back again next year.

Maryland Kayak Fleet

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jack Daughtry:   Delaware Tog Bonanza. (5/8/13)

Bait of the day: Green Crab

Finally got a nice window from all this windy weather to go out and get on some tautog in Delaware Bay. Launched from Cape Henlopen State Park to a beautiful 4 MPH south wind, PERFECT! On the way out to the walls I watched an angler on the pier catch a nice size flounder. I took this as a sign to bust out the bucktail/ Gulp combo and poke around the pilings at the end of the pier. After 30-45 minutes of nothing I moved on. Hit the inner wall and started fishing with half of a green crab on a 1oz white bullet head jig. Almost instantly I was drag deep in a feisty and pregnant female tog. I fished in a few different holes and was finding decent success but with the tide going out the water quality was fading fast. With poor water quality I decided to hump it out to the bay side of the outer wall. I really got into them out there. This is only the second time I have ever run out of bait fishing for tautog. Since I was alone and do not have a Yakattack Panfish the only fish pictures taken are on the Hawg Trough. Biggest fish of the day went 23'',21'' and 18'' pictured below.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Jamaica Bay Spring Bass

Jamaica Bay Plug Fest
Matt With a Nice 35'' Bass
Jack Daughtry

Got out this morning 5/4/13 to do a little bit of recon for the up coming Jamaica Bay Kayak Fishing event being held at Floyd Bennett Field May 16th through 19th. We had heard some decent reports about a few areas but decided to head out and try a few new spots. The plan of attack was to use big plastics such as Sluggo's, Hogy Lures and BKD's while simultaneously locating schools of bunker to live line. The bunker where everywhere but the schools were small and sporadic;  Our plan of snagging and dropping was fading. It was slow, VERY slow, It was like fishing on Lunesta.
           The last of the incoming tide came, then slack, and finally the current started moving again. The moving current and the city's lights illuminated several different current rips. These are in areas where water is being forced to alter it's course around structure (i.e. humps, ledges, etc.). We decided to switch up our game plan. Matt and I dug through the mini Bass Pro Shop's we cram into our milk crates and started working some shallow diving plugs in the rips. I was using a discontinued style of MirrOlure (pictured below), and the number isn't coming to me right now but I will post when I remember it. Matt was using a Bomber A-Salt Lure and a Creek Chub plug.
MirrOlure Plug
After a few minutes of casting through various rips Matt hooks up with a decent 26'' bass. It was the start of an awesome and frustrating early morning. The finally tally was 9 bass landed between 26'' and 40'' with the majority being between 33'' and 35''. We had several other bass come tight only to pop off within the first few moments of the fight. The biggest fish of the night went to Matt. Sadly this fish did not get a photo opportunity. While clearing his lines for a photo op the behemoth creature twisted its way free of a pair of fish grips and mockingly swam away as slow as possible to let the moment sink in for Matt.
Yes these waders have pink booties, and no I did not notice they were "Wader's for Her" when I bought them.

Deer in the Head Lights.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Jack Daughtry
Eastern Bay Striped Bass 4/30/13

I had an opportunity to go fish in one of the recently opened fisheries for striped bass in Maryland’s Eastern Bay on Tuesday, and I took it. With the weather forecast looking gloomy I knew that it would be great bass weather.I Launched from Shipping Creek Landing around 530 just after sunrise.  I was looking for shallow ledges near deep water. I knew with an outgoing tide the fish would be stacked up on a ledge somewhere feeding on whatever edible fish food floated past their face.

It did not take long to find some fish and to figure out a pattern to their behavior for the day. At first I was looking to shallow in 4-8’ of water. After striking out on some shallower spots I noticed some moving fish on the fish finder. (shown Below)

With a DSI fish finder you need to remember that you are not looking for those upside down “V” shapes. The return you see is a return from the swim bladder of the fish. Striped bass look a lot like.. well you can decided what they look like from the FF captures. On the left you will see Rockfish in motion. This was in 14’ of water. I consulted the charts and now changed my game plan to look for fish in 15’ +or- on ledges. After a little bit of searching I found them, like cord wood (see right).

The bait of the day (shown of below) was a 7’’ ZOOM super fluke in baby bass. I spruced it up with a healthy dose of Herring Pro-cure and red spike it dye on the tail. The Jig head was a Kalin’s 3/4 oz, I love the hooks Kalin’s uses.

50+ rockfish were caught and all were released. The biggest fish landed of the day went 28''. the majority of the bass caught were between 18'' and 25''. They were all VERY healthy and VERY fat.

Monday, April 29, 2013

MirrOlure 101: Understanding your MirrOlure.

Jack Daughtry
Not a Hobie team member

MirrOlure 101: Understanding your MirrOlure.
With the onset of Spring and the ever rising water temperatures Maryland and Virginia anglers will no doubt turn their attention to inshore fishing in the back bays, inlets and tributaries in and around the Chesapeake Bay.  One of my favorite lures is the MirrOlure. Here is a little history about MirrOlure before we begin. MirrOlure has been around since 1937. It is said that it was invented during the Great Depression when Harold LeMaster stumbled over the Idea for the MirrOlure. LeMaster tripped over a fallen Walnut tree on his way home and took a good section of the tree with him to whittle the first version of the MirrOlure. MirrOlure is now made by L & S Bait Company. MirrOlures are partially assembled in Costa Rica, Designed, Molded, Packaged and Tank Tested in the USA. 

                                                    Interstate Kayak Fishing Member Matt with a nice Maryland Speck

Understanding the mystery of the MirrOlure:
With only 1,109,700 colors, shapes, sizes and weights the MirrOlure can overwhelm even the seasoned inshore angler. It is almost like reading binary or speaking another language when figuring out if the S52MR808 would be more effective in a given situation than a S20MRCHBL. MirrOlures come in 3 main types, sinking, suspending and floating.

4M, 32M,51MR,52M,52MR,65M,77M,TT,TTR,S38MR,S51MR,S52MR,STTR
20MR, 22MR, S20MR, S22MR, 14MR, 17MR, 18MR,27MR,9MR, 19MR
5M, 7M, S7MR, S28MR, 10MR, 16MR, 26MR, S84MR, 74MR, 75MR, 83MR, 84MR, 94MR, 95MR

Now that you are trying to read a binary lets separate the 1’s from the 0’s. I’ll begin with one of my personal favorites the suspending catch 5 in Mardi Gras Color, or the S25MRMG. The “S” means that this MirrOlure is part of MirrOlure’s series III collection (broken glass flash foil). 25M is the model number. The “R” means that this MirrOlure rattles and finally the MG represents the color; in this case Mardi Gras.
MirrOlure now makes Classics, Series III, Lumo and Spotted twitchbait models.  Any MirrOlure that starts with a “S” is part of the Series III collection (My personal favorite). Any MirrOlure that has a “TT” is a spotted model or Tiny Trout. MirrOlure gets really tricky with their STTR version which since reading this you know is a Spotted Tiny Trout with Rattle! If your MirrOlure has no letters in front of the numbers than it is either a Lumo or a Classic MirrOlure.

Below is a selection of MirrOlure's Color selections with the corresponding color codes.

So what is the difference? If you have ever dabbled in the backwards world of hunting the Gator Speckled Trout you will already know the answer to this question. Trout are picky fish
and Gators are Big lazy picky eaters. On any given day you may have to try 4 to 5 different presentations and 20 different colors to find the one shade, shake and wiggle that will get the trout to bite. MirrOlure knows this and has provided ample choices in their line of twitchbaits.

Stay tuned for MirrOlure 202: 
Picking the right MirrOlure and How it works.

Tautog Fishing
By: Michael Bartgis (Redfish12)
Hobie Local Fishing Team – Backyard Boats, MD
Chesapeake Bay Kayak Anglers Co-Founder
Interstate Kayak Fishing Member

In my experience tautog are found in rocks, reefs, and manmade structures. Places like jetties, bridges, break-walls, etc are all good places to look for them. If there are other attractants like mussel beds, oyster bars, or other hard bottom and the structure is close to deeper water (20+ ft), it is probably a prime habitat for tautog. In other areas I have fished like Cape May, NJ the tautog seem to roam more and can be caught on hard bottom (even soft?) away from structure near sod banks, channels, jetties, etc. For whatever reason, the inshore tautog in VA and DE seem to be far more structure oriented.

Traditional- A stout rod (like a muskie rod) capable of setting the hook hard with 3-8oz is sufficient for inshore togging. Graphite or a graphite composite rod is preferred over a softer action rod. The rod should be able to handle 30-50lb braid and the reel should have a strong smooth drag (11lbs+). I find conventional rods are better suited for this task than spinning and if you can find a reel that you can engage free spool with one hand (and re-engage) then it is even better. I started out using a Shimano Cardiff 401a and a 7ft MH Bass Pro Graphite Series Muskie rod and I have moved up to a 6'3" Shimano Trevala S MH and a Diawa LEXA 300 HSPL reel. The trevala/lexa is light and super sensitive, but also strong enough to catch anything inshore and probably some things offshore!
Traditional rig- 3-4ft of 40-60lb fluorocarbon (or abrasion resistant mono) tied with a double surgeon's loop on top and a perfection loop large enough for looping sinkers onto at the bottom. About 4" up I tie a fairly large dropper loop that hangs either at or below my sinker. I use a 2/0-4/0 gamakatsu octopus hook which I slide on to the dropper loop.
Light Tackle- A light tackle jigging rod will work fine, something in M-MH with a fast action. I prefer spinning rods for this, but an LTJ casting rod will work too.. I used 20lb braid and a 3ft 40lb leader. I tie a loop knot on the jig so usually the leader breaks at the knot or at a scratch in the leader and I do not lose the whole thing. My rod of choice is a Shimano Teramar 6.5ft MH fast action spinning rod and a Quantum Cabo 30 with 20lb fireline.
Jig heads- I started out using the TidalTails tautog jig heads (  I have had plenty of success with other jig heads that are not as expertly painted. TidalTails (great guy by the way, give him a call and he’ll hook you up!) has heard some of the same feedback and they have begun to make more inexpensive options. I haven’t tried them yet, but they look like they will do the job. Recently, I have been using the 1/2oz shrimp heads from Bass Pro Shops. These have a small strong hook compared to the head weight and are fairly inexpensive. I would recommend carrying a variety of1/4-1oz jig heads with smaller hooks with you, any heavier and the tautog do not bite the same way in my experience. If you are using green crabs, cut them in half and leave the legs on, it looks just like a crab drifting through the rocks!
Bait: Blue crab (quartered), green crab (half or whole), shrimp, snail, mussels, fiddler crabs, mole crabs, etc. are all good baits to have. If I had to pick two, I would choose green crab and shrimp. If you are fishing in VA green crabs are illegal so blue crab would be the choice. I usually bring blue crab and shrimp because both are readily available at my international grocery store and they are fairly inexpensive. For starting out, blue crab and snails are the toughest bait and stay on the hook the longest. Fishing with green crabs or fiddlers is like fishing with a hardboiled egg and fishing with shrimp or mussels is like fishing with a cotton swap and come off the hook even easier!

In this case I'll use Cape Henlopen State Park's inner wall as the example but the information can be applied to most other environments. The inner wall is 1 mile long and the depths range from 3ft-35ft (where rocks are present) and there is a deep cut nearby. The wall can be difficult to fish due to current, wind, waves, etc. and anchors seem to be a bit dangerous due to potential snags. I paddle a Hobie Revolution 13 mirage drive kayak and I use the pedals to stay in position over the structure. When the current allows I lean against nearby rocks or structure and sometimes I will even slow drift. If you are fishing a traditional rig, it will be important for you to stay vertical on your rig, something easier said than done! Bring extra rigs and lead, you’ll need it. If you are fishing with jig heads it can be a little easier because you flip your jig and crab out in a likely crevice and sort of slack bounce it through the cracks. If you are drifting too fast, this can also be frustrating!
Start out by looking for areas with rocks at different depths. In some places there seem to be almost shelves in the structure that taper down to the bottom. Within the shelves you will find cracks and crevices that the tautog are more likely to be hiding in and for lack of a better term I choose to call these super drops. For example, I drop my rig down and hit hard rock about 7ft down (judged by the amount of line out on the reel). Next, I carefully lift my rod tip and poke around with my sinker until I find a hole 1 foot to the left that drops down another 4 feet. This is probably going to be a productive tautog hole and I will dedicate some time to see if there are fish here. If I do not get a bite after the first minute or two, I will poke around some more. If still I do not get a bite, I will try changing to a different type of bait before moving on. Cracks next to pilings or other structures are also great places to poke around in.
When the tautog bites your traditional rig, it will feel something like a bluegill pecking on a worm or if you are lucky, it will just feel like a thump. If you feel a thump, set the hook hard! If you feel the tap tap and you are using blue crab, snail, or something that holds up better, wait for the second set of tap taps and set the hook hard right after the first tap. If you’re using one of the more delicate baits, make sure you are ready to set the hook as soon as the bait hits the bottom. If you’re lucky, you will hook the tautog and now the fun part begins- getting the fish out of the rocks, fast! Reel hard and turn the fish from going back into its hole, or you’ll be saying some things your fishing buddies have probably never heard you say!

Here is where it gets weird. The jig bite is usually completely different! Every now and then you’ll feel one tapping on it, but more likely than not when that happens the fish is just sitting there munching on your crab. The rest of the time the bites feel more like the fish picked your jig up and started to swim back to its lair. You do not need to set the hook, instead just slowly lift up on the rod tip and if you feel weight, reel hard – you’ll know if you’re hooked up! Getting the fish from the rocks can be even more difficult with light tackle (I lost a big one on my last trip out there) but the increased challenge adds to the entertainment! I can fish the same areas I would traditionally fish with 3-4 oz with a half ouunc jighead. The tactic is to cast out up current of the structure and let the jig fall on a slack line down into the rocks. After it hits, slowly lift the rod tip and guide the jig over and down into more nooks and crannies where the tog are. Be ready when you lift the jig to reel down on the fish!  

Good luck with the tautog fishing! Be warned, it may inspire long road trips, strange grocery purchases, hours pre-tying rigs, expensive gear purchases, expensive gear failures, colorful language, expensive gear purchases, ADD, cut hands, leaky waders, and big grins.