“Legs of white, the tog will bite,” as the adage goes.
The white legger crab aka the Jonah crab, is the traditional go-to bait for blackfish as water temperatures dip into the forties. The reason for the dietary preference switch from green crab only a tog knows for sure, as the greenies remain prevalent in and around the structures. Some togging experts say it’s the white legger’s scent, others cite the Jonah’s taste, others point out that the ‘leggers appear in greater numbers with the chill to the surroundings. And playing it safely, some assurance that it’s all three.
“All I know is that white leggers will out-catch green crabs when the water starts to get under 50-degrees,” observes Stan Gola from S&S Bucktails, manufacturer of the lethal White Chin Wrecker series of blackfish jigs. He continued, “I’ve noticed this pattern consistently in my 40 years of tog fishing. Once December gets here, we switch from green to white.”
Capt. Brett Taylor from Reel Reaction Sportfishing concurs. Recognized for his big tog-catching prowess, he notes that while the blackfish might still show an interest in green crab, the white legger is much more preferred as the water temperature sinks. Observes Taylor, “The difference in the bite frequency is amazing when the tog are presented with both baits at the same time. Sure, you might get a nip or two on the green crab, but you’ll get many more bites on the white legger. The green crab will eventually be ignored. More bites certainly increase your chances of putting keepers in the cooler.”
The rub? Obtaining white leggers. Some of the more enterprising and energetic catch their own, but most of us look to the local bait and tackle shop for a supply, usually in the forms of either a half or full bushel. Trouble is that there seems to be a critical shortage of Johahs, and prices are, uh, rather steep, sometimes off the deep end (read: triple digits), if the shop can even get them. Supply and demand at work.
Sure, you’ll still catch blackfish on greenies if that’s the only bait dropped to the nooks and crannies. In a pinch, thawed cooked shrimp will also put a tog or two in the bucket. However, when it comes to more and bigger tog as the season progresses through the Yule, the bite is white.