Pollença, Mallorca (ES)
There are four unique species of bonito. Bonito (Sarda sarda) comes from the word meaning “pretty” in Portuguese. They prey on smaller fish such as menhaden, alewives, and mackerel as well as squid.
Bonito can be found in the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea. They are a migratory species, although there is some mystery surrounding how and where they migrate to. They have teeth for preying on large baitfish. Their speed, shape, and teeth make for a great hunter.
Bonito can be caught from the surf and they generally stick close to the shoreline. They’ll stay in the upper 15 feet near the surface and will hunt schools of baitfish.
Bonito can be found in the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea. Both shorelines of the Atlantic, east and west, can offer Atlantic bonito: Gulf of Mexico, Cape Cod, Long Island, Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Nothern Africa etc.
You can target fishing for bonito by either using dead bait, live bait or by casting lures. If you’re fishing for bonito with lures, you can use shiny plugs or shiny spoons for best results. Retrieve these lures steadily and ensure that they are highly reflective since that’s what bonito really like.
If you’re fishing with live bait, anchovies work well for eastern Pacific bonito, but depending on which of the many places you might be fishing for bonito, the preferred bait can change.
Atlantic bonito, found in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and the Black Sea, are known as good eating fish, primarily grilled or baked. Other species of bonito are often used as substitutes for tuna and are actually a cheaper alternative to tuna. The Pacific varieties of bonito might not be as good to eat as they’ll be tougher and darker meat, but certainly, any type of bonito can be cooked.
Most places do not have bag limits or size limits on bonito since they are not an overfished population. Depending on where you are you might need a migratory species license or an offshore fishing license.
In Atlantic United States waters there is no limit to catching bonito except in Florida state waters, where the total weight limit of bonito caught cannot exceed 100 pounds.
Regulations vary by location, so make sure to stay up to date with the regulations in your area of fishing if you plan on fishing without a charter.
The Albacore (Thunnus alalunga) has large eyes and long pectoral fins. This is why this species is also known as longfin tuna. The largest Albacore can reach up to 140 cm (4.6ft) and weigh up to 40 kg (90lb).
Bigeye Tuna (Thunnus obesus) belong to the tuna family just like Bluefin Tuna, Albacore or Yellowfin Tuna. They can grow up to 200kg (450lb) and over 2 meters long. These pelagic fish are found in temperate and tropical waters (off shore) and are targetted mainly trolling.
The Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus) is a pelagic fish that can grow up to 500kg (1000lb). The biggest Bluefin Tuna ever caught was 780kg (1496lb). These great fighters can be caught trolling, jigging, casting or drifting; mainly off-shore.
Mahi Mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) are also commonly referred to as dorado, dolphin or dolphinfish. They are recognizable by their bluntly shaped heads, long dorsal fin and their bright colouring, dark blue and green on their dorsal side and yellow on their sides and underside.
Frigate tuna or frigate mackerel (Auxis thazard) is a smaller tuna species and can be caught in the tropical oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. They are normally caught trolling small lures and feathers. Frigate tuna can grow up to 65 cm (26 in) and weigh up to 2 kg (5lb).
Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri), also known as Ono (meaning “delicious” in Hawaiian), are found in many subtropical and tropical waters. They’re identifiable by their blue-green upper body which shifts into silver towards their belly. They also have blue vertical striping along their sides. These predators are torpedo-shaped and have long and largemouths with teeth.
Yellowfin tuna grow fast, up to 400 pounds (180kg) in about a 7-year lifespan, and they range in length from 59 inches to 88 inches long. They’re known for their torpedo shape, with a pointed nose and a sickle-shaped tail, and have dark blue backs with yellow sides (thus their name) with a silver underside.