Fly rod tog world record | Sport fishing magazine

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Tog (blackfish) are generally bottom feeders. Getting one on the fly is quite rare.
Gary Jennings

Gary Jennings fishes with Captain Craig Cantelmo each spring targeting striped bass near Fisher’s Island, New York. But striper action was poor early last June, so anglers devised an alternate plan.

“Craig told me about shallow water fishing for tautog in the town of Southold area (near Block Island Sound), and said it was ripe for sight fishing for the small game fish “, explains Jennings, director of Florida fishing for the Virginia-based American Sportfishing Association. “It’s very much like sight fishing for mutton or redfish, using the same crab-like style for tautog that cruise around rocky shallows to feed.

“So we went out and I caught a 4 pound tautog sight fishing like I would redfish, and we decided to really target them the next day and try to get a world record fish. “

The next day the anglers set out in the Bayskiff Pathfinder from Cantelmo near Fishers Island and although it was a little overcast they found a prime area for the tautog. They spotted a dark-colored cruising tautog on a lighter sandy bottom, Jennings cast with a crab-like lead-eye fly, using an 8-weight fly rod.

“When the fish saw the fly sinking, it rushed towards it, bowed to take the fly much like a bonefish or rockfish would,” says Jennings, the former editor of Fly Fishing In Salt. Waters Magazine. “I just made a slow fly line strip, the line got tight and the fight started.”

Jennings says the tautog fought well, but quickly wrapped around some weeds. They feared losing the fish because it was hooked to a lightweight 8-pound test tippet, but they released the tautog and Cantelmo used a large net to scoop the fish up and bring it to the side of the boat.

Cantelmo knew the fish was a potential IGFA fly rod record and used an IGFA Boga handle to weigh the tautog, complete with photos and measurements of the catch. They sank into shallow water, keeping the live fish in their large dip net, so they could then stand on hard ground while the fish was weighed on the IGFA certified Boga.

The tautog was just over 20 inches in length, weighing 6 pounds, qualifying for the open 8-pound tip fly rod category for IGFA recognition. The fish was then released unharmed and very much alive, having been kept in Cantelmo’s large net during most of the procedures.

“We were just thrilled with the catch and the potential record, but the day was young and we got back to fishing,” Jennings said. “We caught stripers later on the fly and had another outstanding trip to NYC on the fly.”

After completing all the IGFA paperwork and submitting photos, a few weeks later Jennings’ fly rod tautog was accepted as the 8-pound tippet world record for the species.

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