Northern Puffers - Swelling Toads
Northern puffers (swelling toads) are common along the Mid Atlantic coast and in estuaries such as the Chesapeake and Delaware bays. These odd looking fish often surprise anglers by inflating with air until they resemble a beach ball.
Northern puffers are most common in late summer in shallow bays and around shellfish bars, fishing piers, or other structures. They prefer moderate currents as they are poor swimmers.
Northern puffers are notorious bait-stealers. Although they are rarely abundant enough to target, they can be caught successfully with small hooks. Puffers will bite most common baits including crab, shrimp, squid, and bloodworms.
Northern puffers are easy to skin and make excellent table fare. Their meat is mild, white, and contains few bones.