Tog fishing remains good

January 14, 2012

Fishing remains good for tog with limit catches made last week. Most of the action was in the ocean where inshore wrecks have produced fish to 10 pounds.

Rockfish are still available in the Rips, but few anglers are going after them. Live eels and trolled plugs have accounted for most of the rock.

Better rockfish action has been found along the oceanfront where trolled plugs have brought keepers to the net. The area from Indian River Inlet to Bethany Beach has been productive.

Indian River Inlet holds a few keeper rockfish and even fewer anglers. I check the inlet camera every day and seldom see any boats on the water. Keeper tog have been taken out of the rocks on crab bait.

Freshwater fishermen are catching a mixture of bass, pickerel, crappie and perch with most of the action on live bait. Shiners and minnows are best for the bass, crappie and pickerel, while blood or earthworms work on the perch. Over the past two weeks I have seen more boats on local ponds than on the ocean or bay.

The fishing at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay has been spectacular. The rockfish run in the ocean and the bay is producing fish in excess of 50 pounds, and bluefin tuna are feeding with the rock. On Saturday, my son Ric was on the Healthy Grin when they caught a 300-pound bluefin on a horse ballyhoo and Islander rig. They fought the fish for two hours on 80-pound gear. This was within 5 miles of the beach. Big bluefin have been hooked closer than that with most of these hookups made on striper tackle. The tuna make short work of Mojos, umbrella rigs and Stretch 25 plugs.

Winter projects
Every winter I try to get a few projects done that will make spring fishing a bit easier. By fall, my tackle is mixed up with all sorts of stuff spread out in my truck and garage. Lures are tangled together; hooks, snaps and swivels are one big mess, and forget about my bottom rigs.

Once I decide to get off the La-Z-Boy, turn off the TV and get out into the garage, I have a pretty good plan of how I am going to sort and package my tackle. Several years ago, I bought a bunch of Plano plastic tackle storage boxes and spent several days sorting my stuff and putting it in separate boxes. I labeled the boxes and put them on shelves so I could find trolling plugs without looking through boxes without any identification. If you don’t have a system like this, now would be a good time to start.

I do a lot of different types of fishing. I fish the surf, the shallow water in the canal and Indian River Bay, the open bay and the ocean. Each of these venues requires different tackle as well as the basics taken on every trip.

I have put together in one plastic box all the hooks, swivels, snaps and other terminal gear that I use no matter what type of fishing I plan to do. This is always the top box in my Shimano soft tackle bag. Other boxes are switched out depending on where I am fishing.
I use large plastic bags to hold my rigs. I tie most of my bottom rigs, then put them in plastic sleeves. Each sleeve goes into a Ziploc bag with others of its type. Surf rigs in one bag, flounder rigs in another and bottom rigs in another bag. The plastic bags fit inside my soft tackle bag on top of the terminal tackle box.

Sorting tackle will depend on the type of fishing you do. I have one plastic box filled with small plugs for casting, another for large trolling plugs, another for metal jigs, another for bucktails and so on. The bucktail box is always in my bag because I use them for all types of fishing.

If you have a boat, you can store lures in onboard compartments. Trolling plugs, deepwater jigs, shark rigs and other tackle used only from the boat can be put into plastic tackle boxes and left aboard.

During most of the year, my truck is a surf fishing buggy. I keep my sand spikes, chairs, cooler and tackle in the back always ready for use. In the winter I remove all this stuff and go over the tackle to see what is messed up and what needs replacing. I can tie up a few more rigs, clean out those with rusty or bent hooks and get the sand out of the truck.

By the time spring rolls around, my tackle is all neatly sorted out, shiny and new. By the end of the first trip it looks like it was hit by a tornado. And so it goes.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at