Tautoga Onitis



rocky outcrops, boulders, jetties

1 - 3 pounds

1" - 36"


Also Known As: Blackfish, Oyster-fish, Chub, Black Porgy

Guides Who Fish This Species


Also known as the Blackfish, the Tautog is a species of wrasse (a family of fish known for being multi-colored) that is more prominently found in South Carolina and Nova Scotia. The Tautog is known for its mottled skin (having smears and spots) and being stout in build. This fish has thick fins and strong teeth. But some have noted that the Tautog also have a habitat in Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, Virginia. Others have noted that the one they call “Blackfish Heaven” is in Long Island. The Tautog has thick, squared fins, and has a dorsal fin with 16 spines. It also has a preference for structured habitats in saltwater areas.



Like most of their wrasse cousins, they are considered “carnivorous” but feast more on marine invertebrates rather than attacking humans. The Tautog prefer a diet of clams, crabs, barnacles, and mussels. The Tautog’s teeth are built in a way that allows them to crush shellfish easily. And since shellfish are commonly around rocks, the Tautog have rubbery skin that is coated in slime. This prevents them from being cut up by the rocks while they hunt for their prey. Once their jaws lock onto their prey, they have an extra row of teeth in their throat which allows them to further grind the shells for easier digestion. 



On average, adult Tautog can weigh as heavy as 1 to 3 lb (0.45 to 1.36 kg). Currently, the maximum size of a Tautog is at 3 ft (0.91 m) and 28.8 lb (13.1 kg).


Interesting Facts 

When the Tautog fish feed, they prefer feeding in the day time. At night time, the Tautog are so inactive that they just lie on their side. Because of this, people actually might have a better chance of catching a Tautog at night at the cost of having no light. Like any other animal, the Tautog may have strong photosensitivity that using light will make it perceive that it’s during the day which may make any angler lose their chance.

Despite humans not being their main target, it does not mean that the Tautog are not aggressive. The Tautog are quite territorial and only choose to leave their habitat if the seasons are slowly changing into winter. All the more they become territorial around late April to early August. During the span between the two months, t