Blackfish are popular among anglers in the region from Nova Scotia to South Carolina and are most plentiful along the Cape Cod to Chesapeake Bay area. Also known by its Native American name Tautog, the blackfish can be found near the shoreline as well as deeper waters, depending on the time of year. Blackfish tend to congregate along the bottom in areas that are rocky and their favorite spots include piers, bridge pilings, wrecks and mussel beds. The fish have a set of teeth resembling molars located in the back of their mouths that help them to crush shellfish and crabs. Blackfish can be difficult to catch and require some skill in setting the hook and reeling them in without getting your line tangled up in rocks.
1. Know that blackfish tend to stay closer to the shoreline during the warmer months. When the weather cools during autumn, blackfish will move out into deeper waters in the ocean and stay there during the winter.
2. Realize that blackfish tend to prefer familiar territory and a structured environment. Blackfish will gather and stay in a particular area and not travel too far when looking for food.
3. Consider that fishing for blackfish requires some skill and knowledge of the area waters where you will be casting your line. If a popular area has a reputation for an abundance of blackfish, after a time it may be fished out and you will need to find a new fishing spot.
4. Think about chartering a boat to arrange your fishing trip. Fishing alongside a professional that has extensive knowledge about catching blackfish will help to make your trip more enjoyable as well as more productive.
5. Catch blackfish using bait such as fiddler crabs, green crabs, clams or shrimp. Rig your line with a sinker, the weight of which should be in the range of 2 to 4 oz. (56 to 113 g) for inshore fishing or up to 8 to 12 oz. (226 to 340 g) when fishing offshore where the waters are deep.
- Use a strong fishing rod and a 40 lb. (18 kg) test fishing line in addition to a heavier weight leader, 60 lb. to 100 lb. (27 kg to 45 kg), to protect the line from becoming frayed once you hook a blackfish. Consider that you will be putting your line down among sharp rocks, jetties, piers and bridge abutments.
6. Let your baited line lie quietly on the ocean floor to attract the blackfish. Do not move or bounce the line. Let the blackfish take the bait and swallow it before you set the hook or you will risk losing the fish.
- Reel in your blackfish quickly once it is securely on the hook. Bring the blackfish up before it attempts to swim into the rocks and tangles up your fishing line.
7. Cook with blackfish to make fish stews and chowders. Blackfish has a lean, white flesh with a mild taste and can also be broiled, saut�ed or baked as well as poached or smoked.
- Enjoy your blackfish in a variety of recipes. Blackfish can also be frozen and later thawed for cooking.