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Thursday, January 16, 2020

RECIPE: Abundant local fish is good eating

It's even good for sashimi
RIDEM Wild Rhode Island

Related imageTautog is a mild flavored white-meat fish, like most bottom-fish. Blackfish love crustaceans, clams and other benthic invertebrates. 

Because of the juicy white meat and their diet of crustaceans (i.e. blue crabs, lobster chicks, green crabs, etc…) Tautog and monkfish taste similar to lobster – some refer to it facetiously as “poor-man’s lobster.” 

There are lots of ways to prepare it, including (but not limited to) frying, pan searing, and grilling. Some anglers prefer blackfish chowder, while others say that it is best as sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish) served plain or with chili sauce. 

Supposedly, a 17 inch tautog is the best eating sashimi size. Tautog is firm when raw, and buttery and flaky when cooked. Did I mention ‘Tog is delicious?

The Access-Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS) monitors recreational fishing from Maine to Georgia. 

This program is coordinated in Rhode Island by RIDEM Division of Marine Fisheries under the guise of the Atlantic Costal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP) and NOAA. 

Surveys performed by RI APAIS Fisheries Technicians provide data for the NOAA Harvest Estimates of recreationally caught finfish. In 2018, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics Division (as of December 12, 2019) final estimates state that just in Rhode Island during the 2018 fishing season, recreational anglers harvested approximately 329,707 Tautog. 

That is an incredible amount of fish. It demonstrates how fortunate we are to have such a productive and healthy fishery in our own back yard. 

This data is very important for stock assessment and provides fisheries managers with better data, so that better informed regulatory decisions will be made. This helps to preserve fisheries for generations, which is crucial, especially with a slow-growing fish such as tautog. 

If you encounter an APAIS Field Interviewer after a fishing trip, the RI Division of Marine Fisheries kindly encourages you to take a moment and answer a few questions describing your catch and effort! Better Data = Better Fishing.

¹Kells, V. A., & Carpenter, K. E. (2011). A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. p.310.

²OTW STAFF (Ed.). (2019, August 21). “Fisherman Spears World Record Size Tautog.” On The Water Magazine.

³Personal communication from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics Division December 12, 2019. If you wish to run a query on a fishery that interests you please visit: