The bluefish is a migratory, open-water species found throughout the world in most coastal regions except for the Pacific coast of the Americas. It is a schooling fish, found in schools of as many as several thousand fish. In the United States, bluefish are caught along the Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida. Voracious predators that can reach 3 feet and weigh 30 pounds, bluefish will strike at almost anything in the water. Large schools of feeding bluefish—known as blitzes—will often drive baitfish to beach themselves in an attempt to escape the predators. Their appetite and strength make bluefish a popular recreational fish. It is most commonly prepared baked or broiled.

Bluefish flesh is fatty and fine-textured. It can be silver-gray to white in color. When preparing bluefish, remove the dark, oily strip that runs through the middle of the fish to prevent the fish from absorbing a strong fishy flavor. Try recipes for bluefish en papillote and pine nut crusted bluefish with green olive tapenade.

Also Known As:

Bluefish, blue, chopper, fatback, skipjack, greenfish, Hatteras blue, taylor and slammer. Small bluefish are often called “snappers.”

Availability:

Year-round, increases substantially in New England in the summer

Product Forms:

Fresh, frozen, salted, dried, smoked or as a pâté  

Shopping Tips:

Bluefish should be eaten very fresh. Look for flesh with a deep, rich color with a firm texture. Bluefish does not hold up well to freezing, so look for fresh fillets or whole fish.

Substitutions:

Bluefish can be substituted for other full-flavored, oily fishes, such as mackerel.

Recipes:

Bluefish en papillote

Pine nut crusted bluefish with green olive tapenade

Harvest Method : The majority of bluefish are caught by recreational fishermen. More.

Conservation Notes:

Bluefish were overfished in the past, but the stock has recently been recovering. Current management practices allow for a limited harvest ... More.
Last Updated: August 2008

Harvest Method

The majority of bluefish are caught by recreational fishermen. Most commercial fisheries for bluefish use gillnets, but other types of nets are used to a lesser degree.

Harvest Location


Bluefish sold in the United States are commonly caught along the entire length of the Atlantic coast. The majority of bluefish are caught in North Carolina, New York and New Jersey.

Fishery Management


In the United States, bluefish are jointly managed under the Bluefish Fishery Management Plan by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Management efforts include a harvest quota, size limits and gear restrictions. Current quotas allocate 83% of the fishery for recreational fishermen, and 17% for commercial harvest.

Conservation Notes

Bluefish were overfished in the past, but the stock has recently been recovering. Current management practices allow for a limited harvest and the stocks are expected to rebuild rapidly. Current assessments conclude that the bluefish is no longer experiencing overfishing, and that the target biomass specified in the population rebuilding plan will be reached before the desired year.


Gillnet fisheries are often associated with bycatch – unintended capture – of marine mammals. Due to small mesh size and the tendency to use sinking gillnets, this bycatch is reduced in the bluefish fishery. This type of net, and all other nets are also associated with bycatch of non-target species, which likely includes other fishes.


Overall, bluefish are well managed, and are considered a good choice for consumers. These fish breed frequently and grow rapidly.