Tog come into our backbays for 2 reasons:
- In the spring, to spawn
- In the summer and fall, to eat
As such, our backbays are impacted by the Ocean temperatures closer to the inlets
and air temperature because of the extensive flats. On the incoming, an Ocean water temp greater than 50F, on the outgoing, extended air temps greater than 50F. A deep dive in either (usually air, of course :)) spells the end of our backbay tog bite.
New Jersey has, in its wisdom, deemed that November 16 is the day that the limit of tog is raised from 1 (during the summer and early fall) to 5, minimum size 15" (as of this writing).
This almost guarantees that tog shut down in our backbays right around that time, unless we have an extensive warm spell in the weeks prior. This year did not disappoint the NJ biologists, as we've had a drastic cooldown after an all-too-warm early fall.
The result of the warm waters in September and October was that tog (aka blackfish) fishing was relegated to an abundance of small seabass, and very small tog.
The water didn't cool down to optimum temps until the end of October, and then we've had a series of coastal storms, wind storms, and general miserable weather, with a few short streaks of optimal conditions.
One other aspect of shallow backbay fishing is the impact of wind. At low tide, heavy winds muddy up the waters to a degree that tog either cannot find your offering, or (more likely) go off the feed for a while until the water clears. This fish seems more dependent on clean conditions than any other we face in our area, with the exception of small pelagics like false albies and bonito.
All in all, my last backbay trip for tog was enjoyable. There were a few mishaps, more on that in a subsequent blog post.