With water temperatures between 61 and 63°, I knew that I wanted to make my way to the island three miles offshore, but I had to wait until the winds died down. Last week, that didn’t happen, and although we did find some good trout, I love tog fishing much better. I was all alone, so I put my earbuds in and listened to some jamming music; this makes the long trip much more bearable when there’s no one else with whom to talk.

I hit the first spot at about 8, during the slack tide, but caught only oyster toadfish, after which I moved on. I finally found a set of pilings with a tog on each set. The first tautog of the day went 17. I had forgotten to bring my camera mount with me, and so the angles of some of the photos my look somewhat awkward. One thing that I also had to remember was that if I wanted to keep the fish I had caught, the limit was three, for sixteen minutes. I kept catching them, one piling on top of the other. This was kind of odd since I am used to finding several fish at some spots and none at others. Such just wasn’t the case today.

The fourth fish that I caught today has been tagged. I measured it — it was 16.75 inches long — and subsequently reported my catch to the Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program. I leave the tags in so that the program can continue to track the fish as they mature.

While paddling, I stumbled upon a dead five-foot sturgeon, the first one that I had ever seen in the wild here in Virginia, so I was mildly surprised. Upon learning at the Virginia Aquarium that the state government is actually trying to increase its sturgeon population, I reported my find to the Virginia Department of Inland Game & Fisheries (DGIF), who asked me for some photos.

Overall, it was great just to get back out to the bridge tunnel complex. I concluded the day with six tautogs — a limit if I could keep them — plus two tagged fish and a small sheepshead. The cold-water fish are starting to come in, so get out there when the wind permits you — it’s worth it!

The gear that I used was a Shimano Trevala S paired with a Shimano Curado 300e and spooled with a 65-pound power pro. I used a drop with a 40-pound mono for the leader, pairing it with a 4-ounce sinker and a 4/0 Gamakatsu Octopus circle hook.