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Cape Cod What’s A Tautog?

We’ve been looking into the dictionary for some definition of this fish, which is popular with sportsmen on Cape Cod. Best we can learn from the book is that a tautog is one of a family of labroid fishes, labroid meaning thick-lipped.

The tautog that Cape fishermen catch may reach ten pounds in weight. They used to be sought by local boats that made a summer enterprise of tautogging—that was a hundred years ago. Sometimes over a tide, such a boat would catch a full cargo.

Tautog are fighting fish, scrappy and strong. The best bait for tautog is green crabs. They also tend to bite better when the ocean is rough. As a food, they are best in chowders. Fishermen don’t like cleaning them, however, because their fin bones are sharp as needles, their hides seem as tough as leather, and it is as hard to skin one as to skin an eel.


Along the shores of New York and New Jersey tautog go by the name of blackfish, but on the Cape blackfish are what the dictionary calls them—black whales, - seagoing mammals that weigh a ton or more.

A Cape man heard some sportsmen in New York bragging about catching some “big” blackfish “weighing seven or eight pounds.”
Said the man from the Cape, “I’ve seen blackfish that weighed a ton.”
“Not so,” said they.
“Oh, yes!” said he.
Then following a bet, a visit to a nearby aquarium, the proof that blackfish grow to weigh 2,000 pounds or more, and the switch of the bet from the pockets of New York to those of Mr. Cape Codder.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 02/20/06
Categories: FishingFood
Keywords: fishing, tautog, fish, blackfish, nature


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