Cunner (Tautogolabrus adspersus) Family Labridae, Wrasses

Common names: cunner, bergall

Description: Cunners range in color from mottled reddish to bluish brown on top, fading to slightly paler hues along their sides. These fish have a pointed snout and are moderately slender and deep bodied in shape. They have a single long dorsal fin and a very deep caudal peduncle. Their small mouth is lined with several rows of uneven cone shaped teeth. Cunner rarely grow over one foot in length. Their usual size is between 6 and 10 inches in length and less than 3 pounds in weight.

Where found: inshore

Similar Gulf of Maine species: tautog

Remarks: Cunners are considered a coastal fish with the majority of them living within 5 to 6 miles from shore. They are most often found around piers, rock jetties and eel grass beds. Being omnivores, they eat a variety of both plant and animal matter, including small lobsters, mussels, shrimp and sea urchins. Due to the small size of their mouth, the use of a very small hook is a must for anglers. Bits of clams, crabs, sea worms and even canned corn kernels work well as bait for these fish. Although cunners have a tough skin, their meat is tasty, making them a popular pan fish.

Records: MSSAR (Maine State Saltwater Angler Records)
IGFA All – ­Tackle World Record

Fish Illustrations by: Roz Davis Designs, Damariscotta, ME (207) 563­2286

Drawings provided courtesy of the Maine Department of Marine Resources Recreational Fisheries program and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.

BACK TO: Maine Saltwater Fish Species List

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