Tautog Fishing with Friends - The Fisherman

Tautog Fishing with Friends

Chuck Proto
Chuck Proto – Togger and “anchor man” Chuck Proto shows off a tautog caught while fishing with the author and good friends.

Have a boat?  Good, now leave it tied up and join the party to live and learn with new buddies. 

If you fish by yourself, who inspires you to improve? Who provides you the inspiration to be a better fisherman? Who do you talk to about hook and rigs, rods and reels, line, sinkers, and an infinite discussion on the why’s, when’s and how’s of togging?  This life is short my friend, and if you want to improve your skill set, then you may want to stretch out just a bit. Try a new port, or maybe even a new state!

Sharpies tend to be a bit elusive, protecting their secrets that have found them success. But if you are respectful, work hard, and truly listen, then wisdom will come your way. Often simply by exposure to these excellent fishermen, you will pick up tricks on what tackle and gear they use, and why.

Head boats are easy to get on. They also tend to be the most economical choice. Due to their nature, their regulars will be cliquish.  Certain people have certain spots. One of these special people gets to go in the cooler super early and takes every cherry whitelegger. This is how it is. On a head boat you will normally pay extra for your white crabs. The boat will normally supply lead and hooks, albeit may not be the rigs that the sharpies prefer, they will work none the less.

If you go on an “open boat charter” you will pay more but you will be part of a much smaller crowd. Sharing a cockpit with five other fishermen, the captain and mate; oh, the stories that will be overheard! Even if you are smart enough to keep quiet, the wisdom will be flying along with the bull.  Perhaps you will become friendly with one of these guys; maybe you guys ultimately share a rail from time to time down the road.  The availability to get on one of these boats is a giant upgrade in your overall experience. You will be much more included in the group; therefore, information will be shared more freely.

If a certain rod or reel looks like something you might like, now’s your chance! Regularly we share information on rod builders, which blank is this, or what reel is that.   Oh, it’s an all-day tackle tech talk.  Inherently, toggers and very detail-oriented tackle junkies; we need all the help we can get. I often tell the crew to try this new rod or reel to let me know what they think. I enjoy sharing the newest tackle with folks who haven’t seen it yet; better yet, here in The Fisherman. Use it for a while, catch a few fish; that’s the only way you will know if you really like it or not, right? If you like it, take a pic so you will have the part number of the rod, blank, or reel that will become your new quest.

If you closely observe the sharpies, you will pick up on the way they hold the rod, the rigs they use and the knots they employ. There will be many opinions that you will hear during the day. Make certain of one thing, that you will be able to make up your own mind. Find your own style, and figure out what works best for you.

Keep in mind, your responsibility as a guest; if people share information with you, they may not want it shared, as if it were yours to share in the first place. If not for my friends, I would not have a half of a clue. Do not steal a captain’s numbers; having your Nav App running on your phone is not a good way to earn respect or make friends.  Don’t run around taking pictures making people feel uncomfortable as though you cannot be trusted; ask first.  And bring along extra food and drink, if you can.

Oh, and tip well!



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