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Tautog (or blackfish) can be found along the Northeast Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to Georgia with the greatest abundance between Cape Cod and the Chesapeake Bay area. In spring as water warms to about 47 degrees, tautog migrates inshore to spawn in estuaries. They move offshore to deeper water in fall/winter.
Tautog are often caught in structure with anglers maneuvering to get on top of them. Once a tautog is hooked it will try to work its way back down into structure. Bottom tie-ups and lost rigs are all part of the process. These slow growing fish can live for 35 to 40 years. The average fish caught is two to four pounds with a record 28.83 pound tautog caught off Maryland in 2015.
Tautog are managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. About ninety percent are harvested recreationally and ten percent commercially. Amendment 1 passed in 2017 delineates the stock into four regions… Massachusetts-Rhode Island, Long Island Sound, New Jersey-New York Bight, and Delaware-Maryland-Virginia.