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New England Saltwater Fishing

Updated on October 11, 2014

New England Saltwater Fishing - Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

New England is one of the best areas in the USA for saltwater fishing. From Maine to Connecticut, outstanding fishing occurs for wide range of saltwater fish.

Although the region is known for its giant bluefin tuna and enormous Atlantic cod, there are dozens of species to catch. For bottom fishermen, there are haddock, whiting, hake, scup, and others.

Surf and jetty fishermen also enjoy spectacular fishing in New England, especially for striped bass and bluefish.

New England Saltwater Fishing States

New England states that border the Atlantic include Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

photo credit: USCG

New England Commercial Fishing Books

The Fishes of the Sea: Commercial and Sport Fishing in New England
The Fishes of the Sea: Commercial and Sport Fishing in New England
In this wide-ranging book Dave Preble, who has spent a lifetime fishing the waters of the East Coast, provides a fascinating overview of the history and nature of both commercial and sport fishing in New England waters. He brings to life the glory days when fish were plentiful and new technology made huge catches commonplace. He hauntingly describes the havoc wrought by overfishing in the 1980's, and finally expresses the hope that a new ethical approach to nature and strict adherence to quotas will combine with the fortuitous resurgence of species believed near extinction. The scientific and technical discourse about the major species-cod, stripers, bluefish, tuna, sharks, etc.-is interspersed with exciting tales reminiscent of The Perfect Storm. Through it all, we experience firsthand a unique, highly dangerous lifestyle, always at the brink of disaster.

New England Saltwater Fish

Striped Bass

Striped bass have several regional names. Known as striped bass, stripers, linesides, rockfish and other names, this fish is highly sought after as a recreational fish, as a commercial species and is even grown in aquaculture operations. Striped bass are fished for extensively in New England and are caught along the shore, around structure and by fishing baits and lures along rips, shoals and other structure.


Weakfish are beautiful fish. Typically, fish have a dark olive back, iridescent blue and copper sides and a silvery white belly. Other identifying features are yellow fins, large canine teeth in the upper jaw and dark spots on the upper part of the body, sometimes forming diagonal lines. Most adult weakfish range from 12 to 18 inches but can grow up to to 3 feet long and weigh 4-18 pounds.

The name "weakfish" comes from the fish's fragile mouth, which tears easily when hooked. Weakfish are members of the drum family, which includes spot, red drum, back drum and Atlantic croaker. This family of fish make a drumming or croaking sound by vibrating its swim bladder using special muscles.


Bluefish are exciting to catch and are highly sought after in New England. They are found all along the coast, sometimes in large schools. The fish are voracious feeders and are known for their sharp teeth and ability to demolish even the strongest tackle.

Atlantic Cod

Atlantic cod are caught along the Northeast coast of North American and in many parts of the North Atlantic Ocean. Cod are cool water fish. They have a delicious mild white flesh and are well suited for a variety of cooking methods.

Atlantic Haddock

Haddock is mild white fish known for its excellent table quality. Haddock is a great source of low-fat protein and is high in magnesium and selenium. Fresh haddock has a fine white flesh and can be cooked in the same ways as cod. Small fresh haddock and cod fillets are often sold as scrod in New England The term refers to the size of the fish which have a variety of sizes, i.e. scrod, markets, and cows.


Tautog are stout bodied fish with a blunt nose. They are equipped with a thick-lipped mouth that has large conical teeth in front and flat crushing teeth in back. The single dorsal fin possesses a series of stiff, sharp spines, originates over the gill slit and runs back nearly to the tail. The color of the tautog's body ranges from dark green to black, with these shades mottling a lighter background color of the sides. The belly is only slightly lighter than the sides.

Tautog are very slow growing. Large tautog caught with hook-and-line sometimes exceed 20 pounds although typically anglers may catch fish that weigh 2 to 10 pounds. Males typically grow faster and live longer than females. The maximum age for males appears to be about 35 years.

Fluke (Summer Flounder)

Fluke, also known as summer flounder are primarily found around inlets, jetties and dropoffs. They feed on a variety of small fish and crustaceans. Fluke are an important commercial and recreational fish throughout New England.

Winter Flounder

Winter flounder are an important commercial and recreational fish throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Inshore habitat degradation and overfishing have contributed to serious stock declines throughout the species' range, leaving both fisheries at a fraction of their historical numbers.

Yellowtail Flounder

Yellowtail flounder reach maximum sizes of roughly 22 inches total length and 2.2 pounds in weight. They are found along the Atlantic coast of North America from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Labrador, and Newfoundland to the Chesapeake Bay. Yellowtail flounder prefer sandy bottoms in waters between 130 and 230 feet.


Butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus), are small, bony fish with a thin oval body. Butterfish are fast-growing and live only a few years. They reach lengths of up to 9-10 inches. Butterfish congregate in schools and are commonly found from Southern New England to Cape Hatteras. In their northern range they are found along the 100-fathom contour of the continental shelf from late autumn through early spring. As waters warm, they move inshore and northward, then back into deeper waters when fall arrives. Butterfish are regulated under the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP).


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