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.”

    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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