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How Do You Load Crabs on the Fishing Line to Catch Tautog?

In the last post, we talked about the types of baits that people use for Tautog fishing, and how the best baits are usually crabs since blackfish prefer crustaceans. For newer anglers, the idea of loading crabs onto a hook can seem like an odd one, or even a difficult one. Our team is happy to help you learn how to load bait if you like, and of course we have plenty of guests that are experts and would be happy to guide you.

But, in order to help start the process, let’s talk about the different ways that we would hook a crab so that you can get an idea of what the process is like.

Selection of Crabs

Before rigging, the selection of the right type and size of crab is crucial. Green crabs and Asian crabs are popular choices due to their size, hardness, and availability. The size of the crab should be appropriate for the size of the tautog being targeted:

  • Smaller Crabs – Ideal for medium-sized tautog.
  • Larger Crabs – Can be used whole for larger tautog or halved for a broader appeal.

Most crabs are going to make great bait, since the smell of the crab will attract blackfish looking for a quick meal.

Hooking the Crab

Proper preparation of the crab ensures that the bait is attractive and accessible to the tautog. Start by removing the top shell of the crab to expose the inner flesh. This step is crucial as it releases the scent of the crab, making it more enticing to tautog.

Optionally, legs can be removed to prevent the tautog from nibbling on them without taking the hook. Some anglers, however, prefer to leave the legs on for added movement and attraction.

Then you need to start hooking the crab. The method of hooking the crab can vary, but is still important in ensuring the bait stays on the hook while also maximizing the chances of a hook-set.

  • Hook Placement – Insert the hook through one of the crab’s leg sockets, then out through the opposite side. This method secures the crab effectively and allows for a natural presentation.
  • Exposing the Hook Point – Ensure that the hook point is exposed to facilitate a clean hook-set. The crab should be secured firmly but not so tightly that it impedes the hook’s ability to penetrate the tautog’s mouth.

This style of hooking the crab will make sure the crab both stays on the hook and is placed in such a way that a fish taking a bit will latch on. To further secure the crab on the hook, some anglers use bait elastic. This thin, stretchy thread can be wrapped around the crab and hook, holding the bait in place without masking the scent or hindering the natural presentation.

Tautog are bottom feeders, so it’s essential to present the bait near the bottom. A weight may be used to ensure the bait stays down where the tautog are feeding. Tautog often reside around structures like rocks, wrecks, and reefs. Positioning the bait close to these structures increases the likelihood of attracting a tautog. We know of some great locations to take you to during blackfish season.

Keep in mind that tautog are known for their ability to steal bait without getting hooked. Regular checks and replacements of the bait ensure that your hook is always presented with an enticing offering, so that you’re not wasting your time with a line in the water and no bait to attract the fish.

Come Join Us on the Marilyn Jean!

We take countless trips to catch blackfish over the course of the year, and we’re more than happy to provide you with tips and tricks. We also have amazing guests that are happy to help as well. Come aboard and let’s get started!

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What Baits Are Used to Catch Tautog and Why Do They Work?

Tautog, also known as blackfish, is a species renowned for its wariness and the challenge it presents to anglers. Successfully catching tautog demands a combination of skill, patience, and, of course, the right bait. When you hope to go out on the water and catch a lot of tautog, it helps to make sure that you have ample amounts of the right bait in hand.

Preferred Baits for Tautog

Tautog are opportunistic feeders with a diet that primarily consists of crustaceans and mollusks. The most effective baits tend to be those that mimic the natural prey found in their habitat:

  • Green Crabs – These are among the most popular baits for tautog fishing. Anglers typically use small pieces of green crab, ensuring that the hook is well-exposed. Green crabs are effective because they are a staple in the tautog diet, especially in rocky or reef areas where tautog commonly reside.
  • Asian Crabs – Similar to green crabs, Asian crabs are also highly effective for tautog due to their prevalence in tautog habitats. They are often used whole for smaller tautog or halved for larger fish.
  • Fiddler Crabs – Fiddler crabs, with their distinctive large claw, are another excellent choice for tautog bait. Their smaller size makes them particularly appealing for targeting medium-sized tautog.
  • Hermit Crabs – Though less commonly used than other crab varieties, hermit crabs can be an effective bait due to their natural occurrence in tautog feeding grounds. Their unique scent and texture make them an enticing option.
  • Sea Worms – Sandworms and bloodworms can also be used successfully to catch tautog, especially when crabs are not readily available. Their movement and scent make them attractive to tautog, although they are often considered a secondary option to crustacean baits.

You may also need plenty of these baits available to make sure that you always have some on hand in case you lose the bait in the water.

Why These Baits Are Effective

The effectiveness of these baits lies in their ability to closely replicate the natural prey of tautog in their environment:

  • Natural Diet Mimicry – Tautog have strong, shell-crushing teeth that are well-adapted to feeding on hard-shelled organisms like crabs. Baits that mirror the tautog’s natural prey are more likely to be recognized and accepted by the fish.
  • Scent and Texture – Tautog rely heavily on their sense of smell and the tactile sensation to identify potential food sources. Baits that offer a strong scent and a familiar texture are more likely to entice a tautog to bite.
  • Visual Appeal – The appearance of the bait can also play a role in attracting tautog. Baits that visually resemble their natural prey in size, color, and movement are more effective.

Any time you’re looking to bait for any type of fish, you want to make sure that you’re using something the fish will want to eat. These baits are the same type of food they would eat in the wild and, since finding crustaceans to eat can be difficult naturally, offer the blackfish a quick meal that is far more likely to drive bites.

Strategic Baiting Techniques

Maximizing the effectiveness of these baits requires specific techniques and considerations:

  • Proper Hooking – Ensuring the bait is securely hooked while leaving the hook point exposed is crucial for successful hook sets. This is particularly important when using crustacean baits, as tautog tend to nibble at their food.
  • Bait Presentation – The manner in which the bait is presented can significantly impact its attractiveness to tautog. Keeping the bait near the bottom and in close proximity to structures can increase the chances of a bite, as tautog often stay close to rocky areas and wrecks.
  • Tide and Time Considerations – The timing of bait deployment, in relation to tidal movements and feeding times, can also influence success rates. Tautog are known to be more active and feed more aggressively during certain tidal phases.

We are more than happy to take you out on the water during blackfish season and offer help, and many of our guests are amazing anglers that are more than willing to lend a hand and answer your questions. Come with us all year and let’s catch some amazing fish!

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We’ve Put in the WORK! Come See Our Cleaned Boat!

We’ve spent some of these colder days working on the boat and friends, the boat is looking GOOD. We posted video of the boat on our Facebook. Take a look!

While it may be a bit early to say that the weather is warming and we’re all ready to start fishing again, if you take a look at the forecast, you’ll see that it’s warming from 37 to 50 over the next few days, and we’re moments away from March when the weather is more than warm enough for some morning and evening fishing excursions.

We’ve got to see what the weather is like before we can open up our event calendar, but make sure you’re keeping an eye out as we’re going to have some fun events planned starting very soon!

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When Does Fishing Season Start in NYC?

If you’ve paid attention to our schedule here at Marilyn Jean over the last few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that we haven’t scheduled many outings over the year. That’s because, while fishing is still legal for a variety of fish species, most of the fish that we catch are no longer in season.

The start of the fishing season in NYC varies depending on the type of fish, the specific water bodies, and regulations set by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Fishing seasons are designated to protect fish populations during their spawning periods, ensuring sustainable fishing opportunities for future generations.

We take the boat out to Sheepshead Bay, which offers opportunities to catch a variety of fish, which vary across seasons. These include –

  • Striped Bass – The season for striped bass, one of the most popular game fish in Sheepshead Bay, generally starts in April and extends through December. Early season catches are often rewarding, with peak activity in spring and fall.
  • Flounder – Flounder fishing in Sheepshead Bay usually kicks off in March and can be productive through early summer. These flatfish are a favorite among local anglers for their taste and the challenge they present.
  • Bluefish – The energetic and aggressive bluefish typically arrive in Sheepshead Bay around May, with the season extending into the fall. Their strong fight makes them a thrilling catch for sport fishing enthusiasts.
  • Porgy (Scup) – Porgy fishing begins in May, offering excellent opportunities throughout the summer and into early fall. These fish are known for their delicious flavor and are a common target for family fishing trips.
  • Blackfish (Tautog) – The blackfish season usually starts in October and can last until December, providing exciting late-season fishing opportunities. Their knack for hiding in rocky structures adds to the challenge and fun of targeting them.

You can read all about the different regulations and requirements for this type of saltwater fishing experience directly on the NYSDEC Website.

Regulations and Permits

Before heading out, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local fishing regulations, including size limits, catch limits, and any area-specific rules.

The fishing season in NYC offers diverse opportunities for anglers to enjoy the sport amidst the urban landscape. By understanding the seasonal timelines, adhering to regulations, and engaging with the local fishing community, you can enjoy fruitful and responsible fishing experiences in New York City’s waterways. Whether you’re casting for trout in the spring or targeting striped bass in the fall, the city’s waters provide a unique backdrop for anglers of all levels.

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Cold Weather Fishing Tips in NYC with Marilyn Jean Fishing

Winter fishing in New York City is a unique experience and a great location for finding all sorts of amazing fish. But it requires specialized knowledge and preparation to ensure a successful and enjoyable outing. Marilyn Jean Fishing, an experienced NYC fishing boat, provides fishing trips in all sorts of weather, all throughout the year, to those that want to explore the open water.

But it’s cold right now – at least at the time of this writing. That means that the experience of fishing changes, both from a safety and from a technique perspective. The following are some tips for fishing in winter in New York. We also encourage you to check out our schedule, as we do

Essential Gear and Preparation for Winter Fishing

Navigating the chilly waters of New York in winter demands appropriate gear and planning. Marilyn Jean Fishing emphasizes the importance of these elements for a better fishing experience. If you’re coming aboard one of our boats, or you plan to go out fishing on your own, consider the following gear:

  • Layered Clothing – Dressing in layers is crucial. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add an insulating middle layer, and finish with a waterproof outer layer. Don’t forget warm, waterproof gloves and a hat.
  • Quality Footwear – Insulated, waterproof boots are a must. They should provide both warmth and traction on potentially slippery surfaces.
  • Rod and Reel Care – Cold weather can affect your gear. Use a rod and reel designed for cold temperatures and check them regularly for ice buildup.
  • Bait Selection – In colder waters, fish metabolism slows down, and their feeding habits change. Marilyn Jean Fishing recommends using live bait or lures that mimic the slow movements of winter prey.

This will, of course, depend on the fish we’re going to catch, the time of day, and the weather. We encourage you to contact us if you need more details about fishing equipment. Remember, the weather is cold even during the day. On the water, in the morning or night, it can be near frigid. Worry about your own warmth to make sure that you’re comfortable and safe out on the water.

Techniques for Successful Winter Fishing

Winter fishing in NYC requires adapting your techniques to the conditions. This may mean that you need to change your approach compared to fall and summer. You should consider:

  • Slow Down Your Approach – Fish are less active in cold water. Slow down your retrieval speed and use smaller, more subtle movements.
  • Fish During Peak Times – The best fishing times in winter are usually during the warmest part of the day when fish are more active.
  • Depth Adjustments – Fish often move to different depths in cold weather. Be prepared to adjust your fishing depth accordingly.

Winter fishing in NYC offers serene environments and the opportunity for unique catches. Marilyn Jean Fishing encourages anglers to embrace the peacefulness of the season and enjoy the distinct fishing experience that winter provides.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or new to winter fishing, following these tips from Marilyn Jean Fishing can lead to a rewarding and enjoyable cold-weather fishing experience in the heart of NYC. Remember, preparation, safety, and adapting to the environment are key to a successful winter fishing adventure.

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What is the Optimal Temperature for Catching Blackfish in NYC?

Catching blackfish, also known as tautog, in the waters around New York City can be a rewarding experience for anglers. But blackfish are not a year-round fish, nor are they something that you can assume will be there any time you are on the water. You have to understand the optimal water temperature for blackfish fishing, so you know both what seasons to catch tautog and what time of day is best.

Optimal Water Temperature for Blackfish

Blackfish thrive in specific temperature conditions, and knowing these can greatly enhance your fishing success. These conditions include:

  • Ideal Temperature Range – Blackfish are typically most active and feed aggressively when water temperatures are between 55°F and 65°F.
  • Seasonal Variations – In the NYC area, these optimal temperatures are generally found in the late spring through early fall, peaking during October and November, although the change in the seasons means blackfishing can go well into December and January.
  • Temperature and Depth Relationship – As temperatures vary with depth, blackfish may move to different depths to find comfortable conditions, affecting where and how you should fish.

Typically we at Marilyn Jean go out on the water for blackfish only during specific seasons and times, and the rest of the year we catch other fish like porgy and striped bass. If you follow our Facebook page, we keep you updated on what fish we’re catching, along with reports on the quality of the water.

Factors Influencing Blackfish Behavior in Different Temperatures

Temperature, of course, is just one factor influencing blackfish activity. Other considerations include:

  • Breeding Season – During spawning seasons, typically in late spring, blackfish may be less responsive to bait due to their focus on breeding activities.
  • Cold Water Slowdown – In colder temperatures, blackfish become lethargic and less likely to bite, making fishing more challenging.
  • Food Availability – The presence and type of prey in various temperatures can also affect blackfish feeding habits.

This is why temperature is only one part of the process. You also have to worry about everything from how hungry the blackfish are to where they prefer to be. At Marilyn Jean, we typically know where the blackfish are biting, and have many feeding spots to help when the location is not clear.

Plan Your Blackfish Fishing Trip with Confidence

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, understanding the optimal temperature for catching blackfish can greatly improve your fishing experience. Contact us for more information on blackfish fishing in New York City, and come out with us for your next fishing adventure. With our knowledge and insights, you’re set for a rewarding blackfish catch in the dynamic waters of NYC.

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Blackfish Are Almost Here – Fishing for Blackfish in NYC Starts 10-15

Still catching Porgies every day out on Sheepshead Bay. We’ve got a ton of great spots available for those that want to get out on the water.

Throughout the week, we are embarking on porgy fishing expeditions from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Additionally, on Saturdays, we offer two distinct sailing slots: one from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and another from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

NEWS: Blackfish season is approaching and kicks off on October 15th. For those looking to catch this sought-after species, we will be sailing every day from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. But that’s not all. If you’re interested in porgy fishing but prefer a nighttime adventure, we’ve got you covered with evening trips from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

For those keeping track of seasonal trends, striped bass have started to make an appearance. We plan to switch over to nighttime striped bass expeditions soon, offering yet another dimension to your fishing experience.

Now is the perfect time to secure your spot. Tickets can be booked either through our website,, or by calling Capt. Tony at 646-413-1643 or Capt. Anthony at 347-952-1442. Private charter options are also available for those interested in a more personalized experience.

Don’t miss out on the best fishing near New York City; join us on one of our upcoming trips.

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Why Are Some Fishing Trips So Early in the Morning

At Marilyn Jean Fishing, we schedule fishing times morning, afternoon, and night depending on the season. We know you have busy schedules. We want to be there at a time that is convenient for you.

But we also know that many anglers – both on our boat and those that go fishing socially –  enjoy early morning fishing because it allows them the chance to catch schools of fish before the day gets underway. Choosing when to head out to sea can be a difficult choice when organizing an ocean fishing trip. For those less experienced with the open waters, it may seem odd that fishing trips always seem to be leaving so early in the morning.

Reasons For Early Morning Fishing

There is a long and storied history of fishermen leaving home for the ocean before the sun rises. While it may be simple enough to assume this is so that anglers can get the most out of their workday, there are many other reasons that fishing is best done at the crack of dawn.

Some of these include:

  • Better Fish Activity – Fish are generally more active during the cooler temperatures of the early morning, making it a prime time for catching.
  • Less Fishing Pressure – Early morning often means fewer people are on the water, resulting in less competition for prime fishing spots.
  • Cooler Temperatures – Especially in warmer climates, the morning offers more pleasant, cooler conditions, which can make the fishing experience more comfortable.
  • Water Calmness – Winds are often less strong in the early morning, resulting in calmer waters that are easier to fish in.
  • Increased Oxygen Levels – The cooler morning temperatures can increase oxygen levels in the water, making fish more active and easier to catch.
  • Insect Activity – Many types of baitfish and insects are more active in the morning, which can attract larger fish to the surface.
  • Better Light Conditions – The soft light of early morning can make it easier to see into the water, which can be advantageous for spotting fish.
  • Less Noise and Disturbance – Fewer boats and less human activity mean a quieter, more peaceful environment, which can make fish less skittish and easier to catch.
  • Personal Enjoyment and Solitude – Many people find the peace and tranquility of an early morning on the water to be a perfect way to start the day, providing a sense of solitude and connection with nature.

Fishing before, during, or right after sunrise can create many unique and memorable moments. Despite the early hours, it can be well worth the effort and extra coffee that it takes to get out on the sea. We look forward to beginning the day with you hopping aboard our finishing boat soon, regardless of whether you’re fishing early due to a busy schedule or just because you enjoy early morning fishing.

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Do You Know the Types of Porgy Fish?

Of all the potential ways to improve your diet, seafood tends to be a very popular choice. As most fish are low in saturated fats and high in protein, it can be easy to see why. And of these popular choices, the porgy fish has become quite in demand recently.

An east coast saltwater fish, porgy can be caught in a large quantity quite easily and has a similar flavor profile to that of red snapper or tilapia. With delicious meat and skin that crisps well, porgy’s low price, large population, and high quality have made it quite a common restaurant fish in recent years.

Notable Species of Porgy

There are many different types of porgies in the ocean. Depending on what part of the Atlantic Ocean you are fishing in, what you pull out of the water could look or taste significantly different than what you are expecting.

It’s important to know what kind of porgy you are buying, as there is even a specific variety that can be hallucinogenic. We’ll be discussing that variant of porgy, don’t worry. If you would like to learn a little bit more about the different types of porgies out there in the ocean, some of them include:

  • Scup – The most common porgy on your plate, Scup is a popular species found in along the east coast of North America. Scup has a reputation for a delicate flavor and is often fished for both its recreational and commercial benefits.
  • Sheepshead – This species of porgy can be caught all along the western coast of the Atlantic Ocean, but is commonly found along the eastern coast of the United States like Scup. Unlike Scup however, Sheepshead has firm flesh and boasts a sweeter, mild flavor.
  • Jolthead – Commonly fished in the western Atlantic Ocean as well, Jolthead are easily recognized by their large and protruding foreheads. This porgy is known for its fighting strength by different fish anglers, as well as its delightful taste.
  • Red Porgy – Red porgy are also found in the western Atlantic Ocean, but specifically in the Gulf of Mexico. With a firm texture and mild flavor, the red porgy is most commonly used for finer culinary meals.
  • Salema Porgy – This species of porgy is native to the east Atlantic Ocean, specifically the east coast of Africa. Studies have found that the effect of the Salema Porgy’s toxins are similar to taking LSD, potentially causing days of vivid hallucinations. Salema Porgy will never be served to you or available for purchase at a common fish market, but it is important to know the difference.

Understanding the different kinds of porgies is more than just knowing what part of the ocean your food came from. Porgies have a wide variety of flavors and consistencies, so understanding the different species available to you can help you plan nutrition plans and meals accordingly.

Whichever porgy you go with, you can count on finding an affordable and delicious fish that will play well with the rest of your dietary needs.

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Tips and Tricks for Preparing Porgy

Seafood can be a fantastic way to provide your diet with a little bit of extra nutrition. Recently, the porgy has become a popular option for many in the restaurant industry and at home because of its delicious meat and cheap price at the fish market. This Atlantic saltwater fish has a lot in common with snapper or tilapia, and can be used for everything from salads to fish and chips.

That being said, preparing a new kind of fish can often be a challenge if we are not experienced with cleaning and cutting seafood. Porgy as well is known to have quite a few bones in it, so taking the time to prepare the fish thoroughly can save you a lot of unnecessary effort in the kitchen later.

Cleaning and Filleting a Porgy

Despite its bony interior, filleting a porgy is usually a straightforward process. If you have cut and clean a fish before, you should not find it too difficult. There are still a few tips and tricks that can help you save some time.

Whether you are experienced or trying to figure out what to do with this fish for your first time, follow these directions below and enjoy your porgy:

  • Prepare Your Space – Make sure you’ve cleaned your work space thoroughly before pulling out the raw fish. You’ll need a sharp fillet knife and a cutting board for this process.
  • Descale the Porgy – The first thing you will need to is descale your fish. It is best if you start from the tail and scrape the scales slowly towards the head of the porgy, working on both sides of the fish as you move towards the head.
  • Cut the Gills – After the fish has been descaled, place the porgy on the cutting board, making sure to have its belly facing upwards. Make a small cut with your fillet knife behind the gills of the fish.
  • Gut the Porgy – Your next step will be to run your fillet knife across the belly of the porgy, from head to tail.
  • Remove the Guts and Head – After this you will need to remove the entrails of the fish, and if you would like at this point you may also remove the head of the porgy.
  • Fillet the Fish – To fillet your porgy, you will need to lay the clean fish down on your cutting board, with its back facing up towards you. Then, starting from the head, make shallow but long cuts along the fish’s backbone, from head to tail. It’s important to use smooth, consistent motions to remove the meat from the bones.
  • Extra Tip About the Bones – If you are having too much trouble with the bones of the porgy, a good way to deal with a bony fish is poaching them in a broth before flaking the meat out. While this method will destroy a potential fillet, the porgy can still be used to make soups, salads, or fish cakes.
  • Clean and Trim the Porgy Before Cooking – Lastly, you will want to trim away the extra fat from the fillets. You can also remove the fins and skin at this point.

It can be a little bit of extra work to prepare a porgy yourself. But the mild and sweet flavor of the white, tender porgy meat is sure to make it well worth it in the end.

The skin of a porgy fish also crisps easily and flakes with a delicious finish as well, so be sure to save the skin during the cleaning and filleting process. With a little practice and a bit of care, you’ll be making delicious meals with this popular fish before you know it.