The tautog, sometimes called a blackfish, is a bottom feeding fish found in the ocean. The flavor can be quite pungent and fishy, so they're normally boiled instead of fried. The skin and scales are typically a bluish-black color with the bottom portion bearing spots of reddish brown or white. They also have large, thick lips that help them to search through detrius and pebbles on the ocean floor.
In the ninteenth century there were a lot of tautogs caught off of the eastern seaboard of the United States. The fish would be sold to lower class families as a cheap source of protein. Depending on the season they were caught, they would range from a half-pound each to over twenty pounds.
Tautogs could live for many hours out of the water, so most of the folks who bought them would know they were freshly caught that day. This seems to be a trait of bottom feeders. The hearts could be removed and they would beat for four hours on the windowsill. When I would catch a related fish and bring them home, I'd filet them and left the heads on the windowsill. When my mother got up in the morning they'd all start "talking" to her when she went to the sink to get water to make some coffee. They'd always freak her out and she'd yell at me. Worth it every time.
Iron Noder 2017