Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner


tautog hovering over an artificial reef in Long Island Sound
Two tautog on the Hempstead Reef in Long Island Sound
~Photo by Christopher LaPorta, NYSDEC

Common Names: Tautog, Blackfish, Tog, or Bulldog
Scientific Name: Tautoga onitis

Where Are They Found?

They range from Nova Scotia, Canada to South Carolina, and can be found along the coast near rocky reefs, pilings, jetties and artificial wrecks. Blackfish are commonly caught by fishing artificial reefs in the Atlantic Ocean just south of the Long Island shore.

How Big Can They Get?

Tautogs can grow to 3 feet and weigh up to 22 pounds. The marine fishing records of New York reveal that the record tautog is 20 pounds, 10 ounces, taken in 2009. Usually, anglers catch fish from 2 to 4 pounds, with some catches around 8 to 10 pounds.

What Do They Eat?

tautog picking at food on reef rock
Eating blue mussels can cause a
greenish tint in the fins of a tautog.

Tautog eat mostly mussels, clams and crabs. With their powerful jaws and large incisor-like teeth, blackfish can scrape mussels and barnacles from rocks. They also have molar-like teeth at the back of their mouth to easily crush the shells of mussels, which is their prime-choice delicacy. For fishing bait, they will take crabs, clams and worms.

Fishing Information

Before you try your luck at catching this fish, first check the recreational size and catch limits and make sure you are registered for recreational marine fishing.

  • Important Links
  • Contact for this Page
  • Division of Marine Resources
    205 North Belle Mead Road, Suite 1
    East Setauket, New York 11733
    Send us an email
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions