Bluefish: What is it and is it a good fish to eat?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  August 10, 2022

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The bluefish is a very popular fish in the Northeast, but many people don’t know what it is. Is it a mackerel? A tuna? No, it’s a bluefish! It’s a great fish if you like the taste of fishy, and it’s very popular among anglers.

But is it safe? Let’s look at the health benefits and risks.

What is a bluefish

Bluefish: The Perfect Fish for a Good Time

Species Description

Bluefish, aka Pomatomus saltatrix, are the life of the party! These migratory, warm-water fishies love to swim around in large schools, and they come to Maine’s coast in the summertime to show off their blue-green tops and silvery bellies. They’ve got big mouths and sharp teeth, and they’re always ready to chow down on some tasty prey, like menhaden, mackerel, and butterfish.

Regulatory Authority

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council are in charge of making sure bluefish are kept safe and sound.

Harvest Method

You can catch up to three bluefish per angler per day, and there’s no minimum size. Just make sure you’re using a circle hook when you’re using bait, and no more than two treble hooks when you’re using artificial lures or flies. Oh, and watch out for those sharp teeth!

Recreational Harvest

In the late summer, you can catch small, juvenile bluefish, aka “baby blues” or “snappers,” in sandy harbors, bays, and tidal rivers. This is a great fish for young and beginning anglers to catch.

Health Benefits & Risks

Bluefish are packed with good stuff, like selenium, niacin, vitamin B12, omega-3s, magnesium, and potassium. But there’s also a consumption advisory due to contamination from mercury, PCBs, dioxin, and other chemicals. So pregnant and nursing women, women who may get pregnant, nursing mothers, and children under 8 should avoid bluefish, and everyone else should only eat it four times a year.

Buying & Preparing

Bluefish is best eaten fresh, as it doesn’t keep or freeze well. It has a delicate flavor, but can be a bit “fishy,” so marinate or cook it in acidic liquids to minimize that. Grilling is the best way to cook bluefish, as it allows some of the fat to drip away. And if you’re catching snappers, bread and fry them the same day.

Certifications & Verifications

You can trust the info from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, and Fishes of the Gulf of Maine.

Funny Fish Facts

What Makes Fish Blue?

So, what makes some fish blue? Well, it’s all about the fat content! Blue fish have more lipids in their meaty goodness, making them a healthier option for your diet. But, don’t worry, white or lean fish still have plenty of yummy goodness too!

Types of Blue Fish

If you’re looking for some blue fish to add to your diet, here are some tasty options:

  • Mackerel: These little swimmers are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Conger: Conger fish are known for their firm texture and mild flavor.
  • Dogfish: Dogfish are a type of shark, and they’re full of flavor!
  • Turbot: These flatfish are a great source of protein and minerals.

The Benefits of Eating Blue Fish: A Fishy Tale

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Blue fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent cerebrovascular issues.
  • It also helps lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins in blue fish help keep your bones strong.

Tastes Great!

  • Who says eating healthy has to be boring? Blue fish is a delicious way to get your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • You can cook it up in a variety of ways, from grilling to baking.
  • Plus, it’s a great way to get your family to eat their veggies!

It’s Good for the Environment

  • Eating blue fish is a great way to support sustainable fishing practices.
  • It’s also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, since it doesn’t require a lot of energy to produce.
  • Plus, it’s a great way to support local fishermen and their families.

All About the Bluefish


The bluefish may not be the most glamorous fish in the sea, but they sure are easy to catch and come in bulk. Plus, if you know what you’re doing, you can turn them into some tasty treats, like fried fish and chips, fish dips, and more! Here’s the scoop on their looks:

  • They’re usually between 20 and 25 inches long, and can weigh up to 45 pounds.
  • They’re mostly blue, but you might also spot some green along the back, plus silver and white hues on the sides and belly.

Where to Find ‘Em

Bluefish are everywhere! You can find them in the Atlantic, Indian, and other oceans, so you’ve got plenty of chances to snag one. Plus, they’re pelagic fish, which means they don’t stay at the surface or the bottom, and they usually travel in groups, so you can catch more than one at a time.


Bluefish may not be the fanciest fish out there, but they sure can be tasty if you know how to prepare them. So don’t let their plain looks fool ya – they can make a great meal!

How to Catch Bluefish (and Have Fun Doing It!)

Using the Right Gear

  • Always use a wire lead – no other type of lead can withstand the sharp teeth of these feisty fish!
  • Shiny lures are the way to go – bluefish love ’em, and they draw more attention than other styles.
  • Try a spoon lure – they can get you 20 bluefish in 5 minutes flat!

Bait Up

  • Live bait is the way to go – bluefish love menhaden and eel, but almost any live bait will do the trick.
  • Cut up baitfish – if there’s no frenzy, chop ’em up into small chunks.
  • Whole baitfish – sometimes you don’t even need to cut ’em up – dead finger mullet and minnow work great!

Fishing Techniques

  • Line and hook – customize your fishing experience and have some fun!
  • Trolling – a great way to cover a lot of water.
  • Fly fishing – for the more experienced angler.
  • Nets – the quickest way to get a lot of fish at once.

How to Eat Bluefish Like a Boss

Step 1: Get Your Gear Ready

  • Get your cooler full of ice ready before you head out to fish.
  • Slice the tail of the fish so it can bleed out immediately or drain and refill the water often.
  • Make sure the fish never sits in bloody water – it’ll ruin the look, texture, and flavor.

Step 2: Preparing the Fish

  • Scale the fish and remove the bones found on the belly.
  • Skin the fish or leave it as is – up to you.
  • Remove the darker meat along the spine, also known as the bloodline, since it might have harmful toxins.

Step 3: Cooking the Fish

  • Fry, broil, or grill the fish – whatever floats your boat.
  • Season the bluefish before cooking to add more flavor and get rid of the fishiness.
  • The larger the fish, the more flavor it’ll have.
  • The meat becomes moist and the skin is safe to consume, but you can remove it if you want.

Can Bluefish Be Delicious?

The Lowdown on Bluefish

  • Bluefish are large saltwater predators found in tropical and subtropical oceans.
  • Their diet consists mainly of baitfish and crustaceans.
  • Adult bluefish are usually quite high on the food chain, so they can accumulate high levels of mercury, PCBs, and other chemicals.
  • They have a strong, fishier flavor than most fish.
  • Bluefish are an oily fish with soft flesh.
  • They have a poor shelf life if not properly bled and cleaned.
  • They are a good source of protein and vitamins.
  • They are also high in omega-3s and are a good source of magnesium and potassium.

So, Are Bluefish Good to Eat?

Well, it depends. If you’re looking for a mild-tasting fish, then bluefish probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a fish with a strong, fishy flavor, then bluefish could be a great choice. Plus, they’re packed with nutrients and omega-3s, so they’re definitely good for you.

However, it’s important to remember that large bluefish can be overwhelmingly oily and fishy, so it’s best to release the big ones and keep the smaller ones. These smaller fish are often referred to as “snapper blues” by the locals.

When it comes to preparing bluefish, it’s best to do it fresh. If you let it sit out in the sun, it won’t have a great shelf life. So if you’re looking to enjoy some delicious bluefish, make sure to keep it fresh!

What Does Bluefish Taste Like?

A Fishy Flavor

Bluefish has a strong, fishy flavor that’s often compared to Spanish mackerel. It’s an oily fish with soft flesh, so it’s not for everyone. Bigger bluefish can be way too oily and fishy, so it’s best to stick to the smaller ones.

Why the Poor Reputation?

Many people don’t like the fishy taste of bluefish, especially compared to milder-tasting fish like cod, haddock, or red snapper. Plus, larger bluefish can be way too oily and fishy. So, it’s no wonder why bluefish has a bad rep!

Is Bluefish Good for You?

Yes! Bluefish is an oily fish, so it’s considered a healthy fish to eat. It’s a great source of protein and vitamins, plus it’s high in omega-3s, magnesium, and potassium.

Is Bluefish Safe to Eat?

Yes, but there are consumption advisories for bluefish. Large bluefish can accumulate high levels of mercury, PCBs, and other chemicals, so it’s best to avoid eating the bigger ones.

How to Clean Bluefish?

It’s important to clean bluefish as soon as you catch it. Start by de-scaling the fish, then cut down the belly and remove the innards. You can also remove the fins, head, and tail if you want.

Best Ways to Cook Bluefish

Bullet Points:

  • Fried, baked, or grilled whole bluefish, topped with your favorite sauce or seasoning and served over rice is the best way to do it.
  • If you have a smoker, smoked bluefish will not disappoint.
  • You can also filet bluefish, but be sure to remove the bloodline (the dark red section of meat that runs through the center of the fillet).

Can Bluefish be Eaten Raw?

It’s possible to eat raw bluefish if it’s prepared correctly to kill parasites, but it’s not common.

Can Bluefish be Frozen?

Yes, it’s best to leave the skin on when freezing bluefish. This will help keep the fillet together and firm.

The Misunderstood Bluefish

What’s the Deal with Bluefish?

So, you’ve heard of bluefish, but you’re not sure what the fuss is about? Well, let’s start with the basics. Bluefish are a type of oily fish that are usually found in the Atlantic and Mediterranean and are known for their strong, fishy taste.

But why do they have such a bad reputation? Well, many anglers are used to milder-tasting fish like cod or haddock, so the strong taste of bluefish can be a bit of a shock. Plus, large bluefish can be quite oily and fishy-tasting, so it’s no wonder they have a bad rep.

Is Bluefish Good for You?

Yes! Bluefish are actually really good for you. They’re a great source of protein and vitamins, and they’re high in omega-3s, magnesium and potassium. Plus, they’re an oily fish, so they’re usually considered healthy.

Is Bluefish Safe to Eat?

Generally, yes. But, it’s important to note that large bluefish can accumulate high levels of mercury, PCBs and other chemicals, so it’s best to avoid eating the big ones. Also, be sure to check your local health and consumption advisories, as environmental pollution can be a concern.

How to Clean Bluefish

If you’re planning on cooking your bluefish, it’s important to clean it properly. Here’s how:

  • Immediately after catching, bleed out your bluefish in ice water. This helps to reduce the fishy flavor and preserve the shelf life of the meat.
  • De-scale the fish.
  • Cut down the belly and remove the innards.
  • Remove the fins, head and tail (optional).
  • If you’re fileting, be sure to remove the bloodline (the dark red section of meat that runs through the center of the fillet).

Best Ways to Cook Bluefish

Bluefish are best cooked whole. Try frying, baking or grilling it, and serve it over rice with your favorite sauce or seasoning.

If you have a smoker, smoked bluefish is a great option too. The smoker brings out the flavor of the bluefish even more than any other cooking style.

You can even save your smaller bluefish, spanish mackerel and kingfish and smoke them all to make a fish dip. Yum!

Can Bluefish be Eaten Raw?

There are mixed reports about eating raw bluefish. It can probably be done if prepared correctly to kill parasites, but it’s not common.

Can Bluefish be Frozen?

If you want to freeze bluefish, it’s best to leave the skin on. This will help keep the fillet together and firm. Be sure to use a vacuum sealer, and pat dry before freezing. Just be warned that due to their soft texture and high oil content, bluefish don’t freeze well and lose quality when thawed and cooked.


Bluefish Vs Striped Bass As Food

Bluefish and striped bass are two popular seafood options, but there’s a big difference between them. Bluefish are known for their strong, oily flavor, while striped bass have a milder, more delicate taste. Bluefish are also much bigger than striped bass, so they’re great for larger meals. Plus, they’re a bit easier to cook since they don’t need to be filleted. On the other hand, striped bass are great for smaller meals and can be cooked in a variety of ways. They’re also a bit more expensive than bluefish. So, if you’re looking for a meal that’s big and bold, go for bluefish. But if you want something more delicate and affordable, then striped bass is the way to go.

Bluefish Vs Salmon As Food

When it comes to nutrition, salmon and bluefish are two fish in a sea of options. Salmon has more Vitamin B6, Vitamin B2, Copper, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B3, and Folate, while Bluefish has more Vitamin B12, and Vitamin A RAE. Bluefish’s daily need coverage for Vitamin B12 is a whopping 92% higher than salmon’s. But when it comes to Folate, bluefish is no match for salmon, with salmon containing 25µg of Folate, while bluefish contains a measly 2µg.

So if you’re looking for a fishy meal that packs a nutritional punch, salmon is the way to go. But if you’re looking for a fish that’ll give you a Vitamin B12 boost, bluefish is your best bet. Whichever you choose, you can be sure you’re getting a delicious, nutritious meal.


If you’re looking for a delicious and healthy fish to add to your diet, look no further than Bluefish! Not only is it packed with essential vitamins and minerals, but it’s also a great source of omega-3s. Plus, it’s easy to prepare and can be cooked in a variety of ways. So, don’t be afraid to give it a try – you won’t regret it! Just remember to follow sushi etiquette when handling and eating it – otherwise, you might end up with a “BLUE-ful” experience!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.