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Tautog provide some of the earliest saltwater fishing opportunities for New England anglers.Once the dandelions start to pop up on the lawns of Southern New England, savvy bottom fishermen reach for their tautog gear

Tautog, also known as blackfish, usually start to move inshore around the end of April, or when the water temperature hits the mid-40s. When it reaches 50 degrees, it’s game on! It’s no secret that tautog like to hang around structure, including rocks, mussel beds, wrecks and pilings. Isolated rocks and wrecks on an otherwise flat and featureless bottom are always prime spots, serving as oases for crabs, worms and other ‘tog food. For example, mostly sandy Nantucket Sound contains several wrecks that produce excellent spring fishing. A section of green crab rigged on an Octopus hook will do the trick with spring ‘tog. Photo Tom Richardson The waters off Gay Head (Aquinnah) on Martha’s Vineyard are ‘tog utopia in...

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Photo Tom RichardsonAs all good fishermen know, rips are incredibly productive fishing spots

They are formed by current flowing over uneven bottom, which increases the current’s velocity and causes turbulence, both of which make baitfish more vulnerable to a variety of inshore predators, including striped bass, bluefish, bonito, false albacore and fluke. Here in New England, rips can be formed by sandy shoals, reefs, ledges, channel edges and wrecks, but the key factor in rip productivity is the presence of baitfish. No bait, no fish. Simple as that. You can fish a rip many different ways, including trolling and jigging, but one of the most exciting—and challenging—methods is casting lures and flies. To do this effectively and safely you’ll usually need at least 2 crewmembers, one to maneuver the boat while the other fishes....

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