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Record Tautog Caught Off Ocean City
Large fish drawn to artificial reef habitat


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ANNAPOLIS— A new Maryland record tautog (TAW-tog) recently caught off of Ocean City may be the first of many to come, thanks to cooperative management between the fishing community and Maryland DNR. The development of a high quality tautog fishery off the coast of Maryland is an emerging fisheries management success story, thanks in part to the development of a network of artificial reefs. Marine habitat enhancement coupled with sound fishery management is now beginning to yield some of the best quality tautog fishing on the Atlantic Coast.

Sam Beauchamp of Brooklyn, NY, was fishing aboard Captain Monty Hawkins's charter boat Morning Star on March 11 when he landed the new record fish, which weighed in at an impressive 20 pounds, 11 ounces and measured 31.75 inches in length. The tog easily eclipsed the previous 27-year record of 19 pounds, 8 ounces held by Noah King. The world record is 25 pounds.

Underwater video shot by Captain Hawkins along with DNR staff has documented additional large tautog around artificial reefs in Maryland’s coastal waters.

“Artificial reefs established by the State of Maryland and maintained by the non-profit Ocean City Reef Foundation also provide habitat for other species including black sea bass, summer flounder, croaker, spot, weakfish, bluefish and even American lobster,” said DNR Fisheries Ecologist Martin L. Gary. “These species are drawn to reefs for shelter and food; structures such as concrete and old vessels are quickly colonized by invertebrate, encrusting growth such as blue mussels, anemones, barnacles and myriad other marine organisms.”

Because tautog and other species exhibit strong habitat fidelity — rarely straying far from where they take up residence and often calling artificial reefs home — cooperative management between DNR and stakeholders is essential to providing sustainable, high quality fishing on these reef sites, which are also frequented by scuba enthusiasts.


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They are catching some big ones there. I was out with Monty on Saturday and the same guy that caught the record was back and he caught one 17lbs. We only caught a few, but my son caught one that was 13lbs. Even though we didn't get many, it was worth it to see my son get that one.
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I was on board with Monty last Saturday and Sam was on board as well. He caught another 17 - 18 pound fish that day. It was my first time toggin and i just couldn't quite get the hang of it. I did boat 4 fish though and tagged and released 3.

I highly recommend fishing with Monty, he is probably the best charter captain i've ever been with. He came down and gave me some first hand tips on how to catch them!!

Mike
 

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My dad and I were in 18 and 19 on the starboard side towards the stern. It was a little nasty heading out. Did you see that one new mate getting sea-sick?
 

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I know who you are now- I was going to ask your father if I knew him from somewhere, seems I've seen him around. Yeah, I saw the one mate was looking a little green on the way out. I wonder if he'll be looking for a shore based job now.
Mike
 

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I'm booked with Monty on Sat. 3/31. First time out toggin'. What's a couple of the most important tips for hooking those critters? Just bought a new Torium 16 loaded with 50lb PP and put it on a 6' 6" St Croix Premier Xheavy fast action rod. I'm stoked!!
 

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BW - the secret is to keep your bait perfectly still. If you go bouncing your sinker around you can forget it. Get down to the bottom and stay there. Bob your rod with the movement of the boat so your bait doesnt move.

Monty will show you hands on how to fish for them and the mates on board are first class. You'll get alot of laughs on that boat.
 

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The best advice I ever heard for tog is to "set the hook just before they bite".
Thats a total misconception... When you get into keeper sized tog, when they bite, they bite... The only time when theres a big issue with bait stealing is when you're around alot of tiny fish or bergalls...
 

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Best advise is go fishing, you can't get the feel from a magazine article or dare I say it, an online fishing post. You have to pay your dues, just ask Sam. Keeping the bait still on the bottom, and using stiff enough leader material are a must. Other than that, let the fish tell you what they want, and how they want it. They bite differetly depending on several different conditions.
 
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