Summer Tautog Season Starts Off With A Bang
Today was the first day of summer’s tautog season, which is July seventeenth to August thirty first with a creel of five fish at fifteen inches or better. Several boaters fished the outer and inner walls, haystacks and wrecks off the coast in the Delaware Bay. Some had great luck with keepers, and others came up donuts for tautog, but there was plenty of by catch. Every year around this time when tautog season starts up we see sheepshead, spade fish, and trigger catches. This year there has been an abundance of those catches very early. We have seen some pretty big trigger caught at the Cape Henlopen Fishing pier. The wrecks and reef sites are giving up a cooler full of fish for many of the charters fishing out there. Divers have told me there are some quality sized tautog out there on some of the wrecks and walls, but the sheepshead, spade and trigger fish are outnumbering them exponentially.
Targeting these trigger is fairly easy you just need small hooks and clam for bait. They will hit small sand fleas, shrimp, and even squid. Clam is the most popular bait. Sand fleas this time of year is the most popular bait for tautog since it is most readily available in the surf. You can fill a five gallon bucket in no time with a good sand flea rake or even a net. Since this is also good bait for the by catch species we see a lot of them this time of year. However this year you can literally target triggers, for once. Many have said they haven’t seen anything like this in a long time if ever. Will this happe again next year we have no idea but we hope so, which in that case we my wind up with a creel on triggers for Delaware.
Cleaning them is tough and two years ago a man cut himself with his knife and got an infection that he passed from in less than forty eight hours. Best to wear gloves when you are filleting these triggers (and any fish for that matter) they don’t have scales but a tough skin that is like leather. We did a video recently on how to filet a triggerfish. This takes a little longer than using a filet knife on its own but it will save your blade from being sharpened or even from breaking your knife. Use a box cutter to slice the edges of the skin where you want to filet the fish and once you have that line cut then you can use the knife with zero impact on the blade’s sharpness.