Blackfish (Tautog) and Ling (Red Hake) are year-round residents in our local waters, but the best fishing occurs during the fall, winter and spring when the cooler water temperatures prevail and the fish are in shallower water. Most of the Blackfish caught in our local waters weigh between two and four pounds, but pool winners can be as much as ten pounds. Ling are generally much smaller and most fish are between one
and three pounds. Both species are bottom dwellers, but Blackfish prefer wrecks, rocks and other rough bottom spots. Ling are also found in these locations, but they are also found on muddy bottom spots. Both are excellent table fare.
The most popular baits for Blackfish are live green crabs, clams, snails and other types of crabs. We recommend using medium to heavy conventional rods and reels, and monofilament line from 20 to 30 lb. test. Blackfish rigs have either one or two hooks with a 4 to 8 ounce sinker. There are many styles of Blackfish rigs, but we use a 2/0 or 3/0 size Sproat or Virginia-style hook tied to about 15 inches of 30 lb. test
monofilament leader. The leader is then tied to a three-way swivel. A sinker clip attached to the swivel allows you to easily change sinkers. Be prepared to lose rigs and sinkers since you will often snag the gnarly bottom structure where Blackfish live. Sometimes you can jiggle your rig free, but at other times… well, you get the idea.
Ling will eat just about anything, but the most popular baits are small strips of clams, Mackerel, Bergal, snails, squid and Gulp. The same rod and reel setup you use for Blackfish will also work well for Ling. The same goes for the rigs too.
Like most party boats, we typically fish for Blackfish and Ling from an anchored boat. Anglers let their line down to the bottom and let it sit still on the bottom. You will often feel a lot of small bites from Bergals, but the idea is to wait until you get a bigger bite. When that happens, firmly set the hook, and immediately start cranking. When you are fishing on rough bottom,
you have to get the fish up and away from the snags, or you may get stuck. Once clear of the bottom, you can then have a good time reeling it in. Our mates will net larger-sized Blackfish, but we suggest you simply lift small fish aboard before unhooking and returning them to the water. We generally do not net Ling, so just lift them over the rail when you get them to the surface.
The LING season is OPEN ALL YEAR. There are NO MINIMUM SIZE and NO POSSESSION LIMITS for LING.
The 2018 New Jersey recreational fishing regulations for BLACKFISH have changed from last year
2018 New Jersey Recreational Blackfish Season
Possession Limit (per angler)
Open January 1 through February 28
Open April 1 through April 30
Open August 1 through November 15
Open November 16 through December 31