They're actually a species of wrasse. They chow on clams, crabs and other crustaceans.
They're really a coldwater species, so I wouldn't expect to see them too far south, although they're not out of the question in NC during the winter.
They're tasty critters, but not too common inshore. You usually find them around wrecks, reefs, jetties and rockpiles. In fact, when I was a kid I used to sneak out onto the jetty near Rudee Inlet in Va. (they don't allow fishing on the jetty) with sandfleas and dangle them in the rocks to catch little ones. Man, I lost a buttload of tackle.
Picture of a tripple tail,, a few that I seen caught of Ocean Crest pier years ago when I fished there,,,,,, though "never" seen none up past the cape fear river towards carolina beach...,, heres the link the ugly looking thing on the left??????
Depending on what part of the north your in they are called Tog or Blackfish and in recent years people are finding out that the meat is very good which is why there are catch limits and seasons for them and they are also fun to catch they hang around rocks and if you hook a big one and he gets in the rocks you have a battle. My father was the fisrt person to tell me that your not in a good Blackfish(Tog) spot unless your losing tackle.
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