40 to 45 inches in length; can weigh as much as 30 pounds
Forms schools in open waters
Abundant in the lower Bay, but also common most years in the upper Bay as far north as Baltimore. In early autumn, they will migrate out of the Bay to spend the winter in warmer waters off the Florida coast.
Feeds on squid and small, schooling fish such as menhaden and anchovies
Can live more than 12 years
The bluefish usually grows 40 to 45 inches in length and can weigh as much as 30 pounds. It is an elongated, greenish-blue body and a silvery belly. Its large mouth has strong jaws and sharp teeth. Its tail fin is forked and light green, and it has a black blotch at the base of its pectoral fin.
The bluefish eats squid and small, schooling fish such as menhaden and anchovies. It uses its sharp teeth to attack and feed on prey. Possibly the most voracious predator in the Bay, a bluefish will kill another fish just for the sake of killing it.
Sharks, tuna and swordfish may prey upon bluefish. Humans catch bluefish for commercial and recreational purposes.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Spawning occurs off the mid-Atlantic coast during summer. Juveniles from this spawning period and a southern spring spawning period enter the Bay in late summer. Bluefish can live for more than 12 years.
Did You Know?
- Bluefish are very aggressive. They have been known to bite humans who wander too close to a school of fish being hunted.
- The Chesapeake Bay record bluefish was caught in 1986 at Bluefish Rock near Hampton, Virginia. It weighed 25 pounds, 4 ounces.
Sources and Additional Information
- Fishes of Chesapeake Bay by Edward O. Murdy, Ray S. Birdsong and John A. Musick
- Life in the Chesapeake Bay by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson
- Maryland Fish Facts: Bluefish – Maryland Department of Natural Resources
- Animal Diversity Web: Pomatomus saltatrix – University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
- Pomatomus saltatrix — Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory