Typical Size
18-24" (3-5 lbs.)
Decent Size
25-30" (6-10 lbs.)
Nice Size
31-36" (10-20 lbs.)
45.0" (27 lbs.)
Awards Program
Qualifying Size

12 lbs.
Genus/Species Pomatomus saltatrix
Common Names tailor, cocktail blues, snappers, choppers, gators, slammers
Hot Spots Cape Cod Bay, Wollaston Beach, Stellwagen Bank, Egypt Beach
Best Time June - September
Best Baits herring, spoons, swimming plugs
Best Method Chunking with bait or trolling Swimming plugs

Bluefish vary in color from slate blue to a greenish blue on their upper sides, quickly fading to a silver/white mid side and underneath. They have distinct yellow eyes. It is a cylinderical fish with heavy scales and a hard, bony head. It has a small spiny dorsal fin followed by a longer, softer dorsal fin nearly the same size as the anal fin. The mouth is relatively large and contains numerous medium-sized sharp canine teeth. The jaws of a bluefish are very strong, and when combined with it's razor sharp teeth, make this a formidable fish to handle. Extreme caution should be used when removing fish hooks.

"Slammer" bluefish like this one tend to hang offshore.
Bluefish are a highly migratory pelagic fish that live in temperatures ranging from 55 to 70 degrees. Ravenous predators, bluefish have endless appetites and voraciously feed on any fish smaller than themselves, including their own. Menhaden, mackerel, sand eels, herring, squid, and butterfish make up the majority of their diet, but they have been known to literally munch on anything that gets in front of their mouth. You'll notice that bluefish in a school are all the same size due to this cannibalistic feeding-frenzy attitude of theirs. Considered the piranhas of the sea, when bluefish hit upon a large school of fish they will eat until their bellies are so full they regurgitate. Then they'll eat some more.

Bluefish range from Maine down to Florida but undergo significant seasonal migrations in this range, leaving Florida in March, and leaving Maine in September. On the south shore of Massachusetts, they first show in early June and leave in early October. Throughout the summer they also travel to and from offshore banks such as Stellwagen, to the inshore waters and beaches. These smaller migrations tend to coincide with the supply of baitfish in any given area and do not occur at any set time.

Spawning habits are not commonly known. It has been suggested that they spawn in early spring since the capture of juvenile bluefish in estuaries along the shoreline of Cape Cod, and the south shore of Massachusetts, in mid to late summer reflect this. However, no one has ever recorded an actual spawning. It is also interesting that female specimans with large ova, as well as ripe males, have been caught during the summer off the south shore of Massachusetts, suggesting a later spawning.

Fishing for bluefish is extremely fun. Pound-for-pound, you will not encounter a harder fighting fish. There are numerous ways to fish for them and their highly aggressive nature often makes the method chosen simply a matter of preference. Basically, all methods fall into either bait or artificial lure presentations. The most difficult aspect of bluefishing is finding the fish. Once found, the rest is rather straightforward. Although you can fish for bluefish with a variety of baits, oily fish with a strong scent work best. Menhaden (also called "pogies") is probably the most popular, although mackerel, butterfish, and herring work well also. Freshness is key. The fresher the bait, the better it works. A bluefish bait rig should always have a leader of wire or heavy monofilament to prevent their sharp teeth from cutting right through the main line.

The other method for taking bluefish is with artificial lures. The type of lure you use will depend upon where a particular school of fish is located. Bluefish feeding on the surface will eagerly accept small surface plugs and spoons retrieved rapidly. Fish suspended in the water column will take to trolled swimming plugs and tube teasers. Umbrella rigs can be highly effective in this cicumstance. Blues hanging just off the bottom respond well to jigging medium size diamond jigs in the 4- to 6-ounce class.

Fishing for Bluefish is more important recreationally than it is commercially. Here on the south shore of Massachusetts, numbers of charter and party boats take passengers out on bluefish trips. And from the ports of Cape Cod, recreational fishing for bluefish is big business. The flesh of the bluefish is dark, firm, and very oily. Not as oily as mackerel, but similar. Due to this, careful attention must be paid to the keeping of the fish in order to have something worthy of consumption at the end of the day. Preferably, bluefish should be bled immediately after being caught and should rest on a bed of ice until it is filleted. When properly handled, the meat of the bluefish can be very tasy, especially when marinated and grilled. Bluefish is also used as bait for larger species like shark and tuna, as well as scrap for lobster traps.