Maine Seafood Guide – Bluefish
Bluefish Pomatomus saltatrix
Bluefish is a migratory, warm-water species that ranges throughout the Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to Argentina, from Spain to southern Africa. Swimming together in large schools, strong, stout bluefish migrate north with warming water temperatures and generally, but not always, appear along Maine’s coast during the summer months.
Blue-green above and silvery below, the bluefish has a large mouth, projecting lower jaw, and prominent sharp teeth. The tail is deeply forked. Bluefish are powerful, constant swimmers and voracious predators. They frequently follow other schools of fish that are their prey, such as menhaden, mackerel and butterfish.
Bluefish populations in the western Atlantic Ocean are considered healthy. The stock is not overfished nor is overfishing occurring. (More from Fishwatch.gov)
Gillnet, hook and line, some trawl.
Recreational harvest of up to three bluefish per angler per day is allowed. There is no minimum size. It is unlawful to use any hook other than a circle hook when using bait. A circle hook means “a non-offset hook with a point that points 90º back toward the shaft of the hook.” When using artificial lures or flies, no more than two treble hooks permitted. Anglers should take extra care when handling bluefish because their bite can cause serious injury.
Small, juvenile bluefish called “baby blues” or “snappers” can be caught in sandy harbors, bays, and tidal rivers in late summer. This is a great fish for young and beginning anglers to catch.
Bluefish are an excellent source of selenium, niacin, vitamin B12, and omega-3s, and a good source of magnesium and potassium.
There is a consumption advisory for bluefish due to contamination from mercury, PCBs, dioxin, and other chemicals. The State of Maine recommends that pregnant and nursing women, women who may get pregnant, nursing mothers and children under 8 not eat any striped bass or bluefish. Everyone else should eat no more than four meals per year.
Bluefish is best eaten as fresh as possible, as it tends to degrade over time and doesn’t keep or freeze well. It has a delicate flavor but can be more “fishy” than other types of seafood. Marinate or cook in acidic liquids to minimize fishiness. Bluefish is soft, and is best grilled, baked, broiled, or smoked. Grilling allows some of the fat to drip away.
Snappers are best whole, breaded and fried the same day they were caught.
- Bluefish Information from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
- Gulf of Maine Research Institute species description
- Fishes of the Gulf of Maine