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Kayak Fishing for Blackfish

By Kastking | 24 August 2018 | 1 Comments

The North East area of the Atlantic Coast is an extraordinary place for an angler to go kayak fishing for the tenacious, bottom hugging game fish known as the blackfish, tautog, or just tog for short.  Blackfish are a hard fighting bottom rock dweller that are a culinary treat on the dinner table, and can grow to impressive sizes, that are sure to test the skill of any kayak fisher.

Blackfish will inhabit shallow water in early fall, and will then move to deeper water once water temperatures become too cool for their liking.  Blackfish normally thrive around rocky, hard bottom areas such as boulder fields, mussel beds, and off the tips of jetties.  This type of bottom is home too many hard shell species of marine life such as crabs, lobsters, and mussels that blackfish feed on heavily.  This type of bottom is easily and safely accessed up and down the coast by the savvy kayak angler.


Catching blackfish is best done from an anchored craft.  However, I’ve had good success drifting when the wind and current are light that result in a super slow drift. Crab baits are the way to go and hermit crabs, green crabs and Asian crabs will all draw bites form blackfish.  When kayak fishing I’d prepare the crabs beforehand and cutting them into segments from 2 to 4-inches in size.  I like to leave the shell on, but remove the legs.  Save the legs and mash them up for chum, and dribble it over the side of the kayak once on the grounds.


Blackfish can be sneaky stealthy when biting a baited hook, so I’d recommend Kast King Braided line in 30-pound test spooled up on a compact baitcasting reel like the RXA 60 or 70 teamed up to a Kast King Phantom Kayak rod. For rigging I like to attach a 6-foot length of 40-60-pound monofilament leader to the terminal end of my braided main line with a modified Albright or Alberto Knot. At the end of the mono leader tie in a large surgeon loop for sinker attachment, sinker weights will range from 2 to 4-ounces when kayak fishing in shallow water.  To finish the rig, about 3-inches above the sinker tie in a medium size dropper loop and to this loop attach your hook of choice that should be in the line of a 3/0 to 5/0 beak style hook.  I’d recommend single hook rigs to help cut down on snagging the sticky bottom you’ll be fishing over.  When baiting up be sure to place the hook points through leg joints of the crab this insures the hook point can make sufficient purchase once a bite from a blackfish is felt.


If you are a good at catching blackfish, you are a good angler…period.  Patience is indeed a virtue when it comes to blackfishing.  A key to blackfish success is to ignore the small taps from small blackfish or bergals, and to wait for the solid tug from a big tog.  This sensation will come when the tog has decided to inhale the bait.  When this solid “bang” is felt set the hook hard with a quick lift of the rod, and keep the rod high while reeling in any slack line.  If you drop that tip while kayak fishing for blackfish, or don’t turn the reel handle fast enough the blackfish will dive for the bottom, and often the result will be losing the hooked blackfish to the bottom structure that lies below.


— By Capt. Tom Mikoleski



Captain Tom Mikoleski is the successful fishing charter captain of the Grand Slam who sails out of Montauk, NY for trophy striped bass, doormat fluke, jumbo porgies, humpback sea bass, and monster sharks. Captain Tom is the author of Bass Buff — A Striper Fishing Obsession Guide




Eposeidon ( www.eposeidon.com ) is an e-commerce company (Eposeidon Outdoor Adventure, Inc.) that brings a fresh, innovative approach to anglers by offering quality products at the best prices and no cost, or low cost shipping. Eposeidon’s goal is to exceed expectations through outstanding customer service and superior product value to their customers. Eposeidon is continually expanding its product lines, which include KastKing™ fishing line, fishing reels, and fishing rods, MadBite fishing lures, Ecooda reels, and other fishing tackle products, to meet individual fishing equipment needs. Eposeidon is headquartered in Hempstead, NY, USA and sells fishing tackle products globally. Eposeidon is the sole North American Distributor for Ecooda fishing reels.

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