Bonito are beautiful, medium-sized fish which strike hard, giving anglers a challenge in catching them. They populate salt and brackish waters across the globe, which is one of the many reasons why many are curious about how to catch bonito quickly and more efficiently.
If you’re one of the people who are excited about the upcoming bonito fishing season, you’re in luck as we’ll tackle everything there’s to know about bonito fishing!
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What Kind of Fish is Bonito?
Learning how to catch bonito fish can be easier by understanding the species itself. Bonito is known among anglers for their long runs and hard strikes.
They are the most common species of tuna found in the Atlantic. Also known as “Kawa Kawa” in Hawaii or the “False Albacore” in North America, bonito fish swim in large schools. They are also sought after among game fish anglers.
Their silvery bellies and striped backs make them distinguishable. As for the bonito fish size, they’re medium-sized, growing up to 30 inches or 75 cm on average.
If you know how to fillet bonito, then you may already know bonito have streamlined bodies with forked tails, narrow tail base, and rows of finlets that are small behind their anal and dorsal fins.
Where to Catch Bonito Fish
When catching bonito, it’s necessary to learn their habitat.
One of the first things you should know is there are four different species that are officially recognized: S. Australis, which can be found in New Zealand and Australia; S. Chilensis, swimming in eastern Pacific waters; S. Orientalis, which are in Indo-Pacific waters; and S. Sarda in the Mediterranean and Atlantic.
Pacific bonito which populate the California coast are the only ones that are tuna-like. They have slanted dark-colored stripes running along their backs. As for the Atlantic bonito, they are most commonly found in New York City’s shoers. As they have the habit of jumping from the water, the locals call them ‘skipjacks.’
When you want to test out your knowledge and skill in catching bonito, look for them in reefs, shoals, wrecks, coastal waters, floating debris, and baitfish patches.
Bonito Fishing Tips for Beginner Anglers
Knowing how to catch bonito is relatively easy. The fishing methods effective for bonito fish are straightforward.
As soon as you get a school interested or aroused, they’ll take almost all types of lures or baits that are tossed in their way. Most bonito are hooked with a combination of trolling and live bait.
Make Sure You Have the Right Gear
The fish will make a powerful run when it’s hooked. That being said, the saltwater spinning reel best for you to use is one that’s large enough that it can handle the run. A smooth drag is also a requirement for the reel.
The ideal tackle has to be scaled in accordance with the bonito fish size that you’re planning to go after. For bonito fishing on a pier, you can expect to hook a 6-pounder bonito.
A 10-lb line for this size will be ideal. If you plan on catching your very first bonito fish at a bank or offshore island, expect to get a much larger fish. So, invest in a 20-lb tackle.
In comparison to other kinds of fishing lines, the braided line will offer you the most advantages when you’re going after bonito fish. One of the many benefits of using braid is the longer casting distance. In addition, you’ll get more solid hookups as a braided fishing line doesn’t stretch.
Use the Right Fishing Techniques of Experts
Locating bonito fish is also fairly easy, even when you’re already out on the water. The fish usually gives away its presence as it leaps from the surface when it’s going after prey that’s close to the water surface.
A diving bird also makes it possible for you to find the specific spot that features bonito fish. Terns and gulls often behave oddly or differently when they’re about to feed on bonito.
When you’re certain that you have the location of bonito fish, it’s important that you maintain a constant speed. In general, bonito cruises on the water quickly. This means that your chances of out-reeling a bonito fish are generally low.
But, speed variations will surely cause some issues. Should you move slowly, there’s a likelihood that an opportunistic tuna picks up your lure rather than a bonito. If you’ll move too fast, you’ll end up with a lure that’s skipping on the water surface. It will make it harder for you to hook the fish.
Should you come across a breaking fish, we suggest you try to position the boat or vessel you are in upwind or up current the school of fish. Then, shut the trolling motor down so you don’t disturb the feeding activity prior to your bait arriving.
Lead the fish for 3 to 4 ft to let it see your bait. For bonito that’s not showing or popping out of the water, trolling will be the best method to catch one. You can troll whatever lure you already have when you’re after a bonito fish.
As you handle the fish, make sure that you slowly remove the hook with a hook remover. Also, make sure you’re careful as the fish will put up a hard fight. Hold the fish sideways and upside down to calm it down.
If you’re after a species of fish that will put up an excellent fight once it’s hooked, we are sure you’ll love bonito fishing!
The main challenge which anglers face when they are still learning the right way of catching bonito fish is the speed of the species. But, with practice and patience, bonito fishing will be easier for you!