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Old 12-24-2016, 08:52 AM
fishingmortgageman fishingmortgageman is offline
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Default The history of jigging Blackfish in NJ as I know it

This is a story told from only one side. I am sure that many of you have your own history and stories to add to this and they are most welcome. I first became aware of jigging for blackfish when I watched Capt Rich Tenreiro on a fishing show from Long Island sound. They were fishing with the creator of tidal tale jigs and having great success. I have always enjoyed fishing with light tackle so this was of immediate interest to me. Soon after that Lou Castellano had a charter with Capt Rich and I went to give it a try. The first trip had very poor conditions and we were only able to catch a few fish. I liked what I saw but I was not convinced yet. Next I went on another trip with Lou and we had similar condition and again limited success. It was around 4 years ago that I fished with Henry Kong, or uncle Henry as he is known, on the fish monger and that day we were fluking. Henry and I hit it off pretty well and we started fishing more together. We had discussed jigging for tog and Henry explained that he had been doing it for around 10 years with good success. I was anxious to see him in action and I finally had the chance on a early season Rhode Island trip. This trip again had pretty poor conditions but Henry stuck with his jigs and put on a show. He was outcatching everyone. Henry gave me some of his jigs and I went for it. There was a learning curve, but I soon I was pulling in blackfish and I have not looked back since. We started jigging on other boats and people were becoming intrigued. Henry, in my opinion, was the person to most contribute to the current popularity of blackfish jigging in NJ.

He was not alone, however. Henry fishes often on the Fish Monger, which is one of the best blackfishing boats in NJ. Capt Jerry is well known for his love of blackfishing and his ability to put his customers on the fish. Capt Jerry prides himself on getting his customers the most and biggest fish possible. As other fishermen were watching uncle Henry, they wanted to try jigging to. As I mentioned there is a learning curve for jigging and fishermen that are not used to light tackle spinning rods would not put their usual catch in the boat. Jerry also often fishes wrecks and very rough bottom where a large fish would most likely break off if hooked on light line and a jig. Capt Jerry always wants his customers to do their best so he discouraged them from jigging. A debate was created, that still goes on today, about whether to jig or not. This debate, I think, was the second most influential cause of the growth of jigging. So many people read Capt Jerry's fishing reports, they stared to wonder what all this talk about jigging was.
Last year I had an early season charter in Rhode Island again. Henry was along as well as Capt Chad Hacker and Capt Derek Bielitz. Derek had jigged for blackfish before but this was Chad's first try. It was a tough day until the last two hours, when they started to chew. Henry was doing very well as usual, but Chad started to get the hang. He and Derek were giving the capt fits as they were swinging 8# fish over the rail with these light poles. Unfortunately Chad swung one to many on a pole that he borrowed from Derek. Chad and Derek were hooked after that and they mostly jig for tog now. The many customers that fish on their boats, have seen their success and I have been on trips where all ten fishermen are now jigging.
Henry, Bill Pissara, and I fish quite a bit with the legend Tommy Joseph. Henry has fished for years with Tommy and has always jigged. Tommy was not to interested until the day that Henry, Bill, and I were absolutely destroying the blackfish. He asked Henry for a jig and was soon catching fish. Capt Ed did not want to be left behind and was soon jigging too. Who says that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Capt Tommy asked me to get him 100 jigs and now he is telling his customers that there is a time and place for the jig.
I am not sure of Joe Zagorski's motivation for starting Blackfish Jiggers Anonymus, but he has certainly stirred up attention. I don't think that he originally was a jigger but his recent 13+ # fish on a jig show that he is now on the darkside.
I don't say that jigging always produces more fish, but it is the way that I most enjoy to catch them. It appears that more and more people are feeling the same way, because I read more and more reports about the fish caught on the jig. So share some stories and enjoy blackfishing anyway that you want to.
Eric Jensen

Last edited by fishingmortgageman; 12-24-2016 at 08:57 AM..
Old 12-24-2016, 09:45 AM
EddieG EddieG is offline
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Default Re: The history of jigging Blackfish in NJ as I know it

Thoughout last year I read numerous post on here and well as seeing some videos on YouTube about jigging blackfish... it wasn't until early Jan this past year that I was on the osprey out of Atlantic City where two guys were putting on a show with the jig to say the least... one guy was in the bow and the other in the stern while 15 other guys were stratching our you no what!! So I said screw it I'll have to try this.. I now have been out about 7 times this fall blackfishing and the quality and quantity of the fish is the best I ever had... numerous fish close to if not 10 pounds + and well as limits every trip ... granted I have been on good boats like tommy Joseph and Ron on the rock bottom .. but in my brief experience jig fisherman simply get many more bites then conventional..
Old 12-24-2016, 09:59 AM
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Gerry Zagorski Gerry Zagorski is offline
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Default Re: The history of jigging Blackfish in NJ as I know it

Thanks for that Eric, you JIGGER

Tried my hand a few times with mixed success and just as you say, there is a learning curve and for me it's been a pretty steep one. Conditions are everything as is the gear you use and you need to get used to feeling the bite since it's different then on a rig.

From what I've seen the conditions need to be on the calmer side with slower current and a nice sensitive lightweight but strong rod and reel is a practically must... Most bites are slight, you might feel a tap, some extra weight and sometimes they pick it up and run with it. For that reason you need a very light and sensitive but somewhat powerful rod and reel. The lightness allows you to detect bites and once you are hooked up, you need some power and lifting capability to keep the fish out of the wreck and busting you off. Point in case I tried it on a somewhat heavier spinner set up I use to jig for fluke and I couldn't feel a thing. The fluke bite is way more aggressive and no mistaking it, not so with Blackfish.

Having said all this I know there are some way more proficient then me who fish jigs almost exclusively, in spite of conditions and do very well.

I have a lot to learn yet but I too like it for the sport and challenge and sometimes when the bite is really scratchy or the fish won't commit to the bait, the jigs can be a big difference maker. One thing I'm still figuring out is the hook set.... Hard for me to get used to it but most sharpies say lifting the rod rather then a hard hook set is best.

Thanks again for the history lesson and sharing it here Eric.

Gerry Zagorski <><

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Last edited by Gerry Zagorski; 12-24-2016 at 10:08 AM..
Old 12-24-2016, 10:12 AM
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MVP MVP is offline
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Default Re: The history of jigging Blackfish in NJ as I know it

That was a great story and well written. Nothing more I enjoy thane fishing with you guys and watching you all put on a clinic. I have learned allot watching you guys and still have along way to go as I have more confidence in my traditional rig. The more you do it the more confidence you get. Thanks for sharing great story
Old 12-24-2016, 10:27 AM
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Tony Cav Tony Cav is offline
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Default Re: The history of jigging Blackfish in NJ as I know it


Good article. thanks.
Master of the Sea Monkey
Old 12-24-2016, 10:40 AM
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Man Workin Man Workin is offline
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Default Re: The history of jigging Blackfish in NJ as I know it

Great article, its crazy how many elements go into catching tog. It's cool to see guys have great success jigging. I myself have been starting to try, but with no luck. As said in all the posts conditions and equipment matter and this time of year fishing for me is with a slider or single hook. Much respect to the jiggers out there and merry Christmas just keep that jig away from me, lol.
Old 12-24-2016, 10:51 AM
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Sharkyispy Sharkyispy is offline
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Default Re: The history of jigging Blackfish in NJ as I know it

Eric, great post! Well written and explains the passion that some develop for a new way of fishing. It's a challenge. Many here like that over the normal way of catching a fish. It's not new, just a method that has recently take hold in a much bigger way.
Mike Reynolds
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Old 12-24-2016, 11:27 AM
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Default Re: The history of jigging Blackfish in NJ as I know it

Great post Eric. Heres some proof that some big ones can be caught doing this, but they do have their time and their place.


Fisher Price IV
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Old 12-24-2016, 05:11 PM
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kurtisb kurtisb is offline
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Default Re: The history of jigging Blackfish in NJ as I know it

Eric, watching you, Uncle Henry and Chad fish with a jig has turned me to the dark side also. In October and early November when we were fishing in shallow water it was fantastic. I caught many fish up to 10 pounds and never broke off a fish. Now that we are fishing deeper, I just can't get it to work anymore. I've watched you and Chad fish jigs deep and put on a show, but I'm back to the rig.
Kurt Berry
Old 12-24-2016, 07:58 PM
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Fin Reaper Fin Reaper is offline
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Default Re: The history of jigging Blackfish in NJ as I know it

Great story man...
Thanks for that!
So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish...

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