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Locating a Structure

To ensure a successful fishing trip, there's a few things I like to consider once I locate a wreck or structure. Before dropping anchor, I
prefer to
circle the area slowly and take notes each time I see a piece of the wreck or structure. After a couple of passes, I get an
idea of how the wreck or structure lies and its overall size. I also
watch the sonar for signs of fish. Sometimes clues on the fish-finder
can help determine the types of fish present on the wreck or structure. Are there schools of marks at mid-depth or high in the water-
column?

Choosing the season to fish a given wreck or structure is important. A more efficient way to think of this is to develop a plan of
possible wrecks or structures to target on any given day.
Some wrecks or structures are hot only during cold weather while other
wrecks or structures produce better results during the warmer-summer months.
I like to have a plan which entails fishing 3 or 4
wrecks or pieces of structure in a morning,
each in a slightly different environment. Another plan is to mix a brief drop on a wreck
or structure with other types of fishing during the day. A mixed bag is always welcomed in my house.

BAIT

Before the trip, I always try to obtain good-quality fresh and/or live bait.  Tautogs require hard crabs or clams as a
primary choice of bait.
Clam is the basic Sea Bass bait.

DROPPING ANCHOR

Most often, I drift the boat over the wreck, watching the plotter as a drift pattern emerges. I don't like to extend my drift more
than about 75 feet after the structure disappears from the fish-finder. This allows you to cover all of the wreck or structure and pinpoint
better areas. This method allows for a more diverse catch as the various species of fish may inhabit different zones of the wreck or
structure.

I
deploy a grappling hook or more commonly known as a wreck anchor, which is intended to hinge onto the wreck or structure. The
wreck anchor (grappling hook) is designed with a specific shape that is most often connected to a light chain and a very small diameter of
rope.

Another anchoring technique is through use of a wreck anchor made of hot rolled steel. To ensure a strong hold, move your boat
up current from the wreck or reef, drop the anchor and as the boat drifts, the anchor will be forced to drag along the bottom until the
wreck anchor hooks onto the structure.
The anchor rope shortens so the boat is directly over the wreck or reef. You can then tie the
rope off to a bow cleat. A minimal amount of anchor rope is in the water when this technique is used. When finished fishing, forcefully
pull on the anchor rope, which causes the wreck anchor to bend, freeing the anchor from the structure. The anchor can later be bent into
its original shape and used again.

SEASON

October and November are prime times for Tautog. These stocky, powerful fish are caught along the Atlantic coast on hard
structures such as wrecks, artificial reefs, rock piles, and boulders at the bases of lighthouses. Tog maneuver through the cracks and
crevices of these structures and use their thick, rubbery lips to pull off blue mussels from the structure. Their large teeth crack open the
shell allowing the Tog to consume the meat and discard the bits of shell. Tog also use their mouths to crack open crab, shrimp, clams and
even lobster.

The key to catching Tautog is anchoring directly over the structure, which will enable you to drop your bait straight down into the
twisted, tangled, jumbled structure where Tog dwell.
It's imperative to fish in the structure. Bait presented on the open bottom, even
if only a few feet from structure, will be ignored.

If you
plan to pursue rock- and wreck hugging inshore fish, such as Tautog (blackfish), Fluke, Sea Bass and Scup, you’ll need
to know a few things about anchoring over structure.
  • Precision anchoring takes skill and experience but it pays big dividends, as being just a few feet off the part of the wreck, reef
    or rock pile where the fish are. Holding your position can make all the difference between scoring dinner and coming home
    empty-handed. The best bottom fishermen will set and reset the hook several times until their boat is directly over the
    precise spot they want to fish. They don’t settle for “close enough.” Fortunately, there are a few simple tricks you can use to
    work a piece of structure effectively without having to re-anchor.
---Don't make a "wreck" out of your next trip
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