Tautog poacher busted for keeping 62 under minimum size

     (Image: Virginia Institute of Marine Science)

    (Image: Virginia Institute of Marine Science)

    State conservation officers recently charged an Atlantic County angler with keeping dozens of undersized fish over a daily catch limit.

    Division of Fish and Wildlife conservation officers conducted surveillance near the Absecon Inlet in October due to a known poaching problem involving tautog, also known as blackfish, according to a state release. 

    Anglers are allowed to keep one fish at a minimum length of 15-inches daily between July 17 and Nov. 15. Between Nov. 16 and Dec. 31, the catch amount increases to six, dropping to four between Jan. 1 and Feb. 27 and again on April 1 through April 30. 

    The officers “noticed a group exhibiting abnormal behavior and observed individuals transporting a few undersized fish to a vehicle,” the release said, adding that they “inspected the vehicle and found 62 tautog, all below the 15-inch minimum length.”

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    The angler, who authorities did not identify, was charged with undersized violations and possession of 61 tautog over the daily limit, settling the case with an assessed fine of $2,000, according to the release.

    According to the Blue Ocean Institute, the species is found from Nova Scotia to Georgia and considered overfished

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