The tog is a member of the wrasse family which, with 450 species in 60 known genera, is one of the largest families of fishes.
How to identify a Tautog
The first dorsal fin has 16-17 spines of almost equal length. The short second dorsal fin consists of 10 somewhat longer soft rays. The anal fin has 3 spines and 7-8 soft rays. There is a detached area of small scales behind and beneath the eye, but no scales can be found on the operculum. The lateral line is arched more or less following the contour of the back and has a scale count of 69-73. There are 9 gill rakers on the first branchial arch, 3 on the upper limb and 6 on the lower limb. A number of small teeth are present along the sides of the jaws and there are 2-3 large canine teeth in the tips. Young are generally brown or greenish brown with irregular dark mottling or blotching on the flanks. Larger specimens may be entirely black or charcoal gray, sometimes with greenish overtones, or they may be mottled with brown, black, or white. The belly and chin are white or gray and there may be spots on the chin. Females develop a white saddle down the middle of each side during spawning.
Where to catch Tautog
The tautog occurs in the western Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia, Canada to South Carolina, USA, with the greatest abundance between Cape Cod, Massachusetts and the Delaware Bay. It is known to move in and out of bays or in shore and off shore according to the water temperature, but it does not make extensive migrations up and down the coast. It prefers shallow waters over rocky bottoms, shell beds, inshore wrecks, etc., which it often inhabits year round. The following list includes additional details on where to catch this fish: