Bonita are among my favorite fish
to catch. Off the Big Bend of Florida, we often spot Bonita attacking bait
schools. They are quite easily seen when the water is calm. They
usually are leaping in a graceful arc out of the water. Light
tackle and a medium to light drag setting is the name of the
game. Once you spot a school, do not run right up on the school
but rather watch for a minute or two to determine if they are
moving in a particular direction. If they are, position your boat
well in front of the school and let them come to to you. They
will surround a drifting boat but scatter quickly when a fast
moving boat approaches. Try and determine what size the bait is.
If you can get a line on this, match the size of the bait in your
lure. I like using the heavier 1 to 3 oz silver casting spoons.
Throw the lure into the boil of fish and reel as fast as you can.
The lure must be moving fast for the fish to hit it. Do not try
and be fancy with the retrieve, this is not a finesse game but
purely a power toss.
I have not heard of any good
recipes for Bonita. I usually release all we catch except for 2
or 3 that I keep for bait or chum. Grouper love Bonita strips.
Chunking Bonita is a great way to bring Amberjacks and barracuda
right up to the boat. Kingfish will often lay under the working
school of Bonita, so every once in a while let your lure drop
below the working fish. You may be surprised at what is down
there feeding off the bait fish scraps.
Scombridae (Mackerels, tunas, bonitos)
picture (Euall_u1.jpg) by
| FishBase name:
| Max. size:
||122 cm TL (male/unsexed; Ref.
26340); max.weight: 16.5 kg (Ref. 40637); max. reported age:
||pelagic; oceanodromous; brackish;
marine ; depth range 1 - 150 m
||tropical; 56°N - 30°S
||fisheries: commercial; gamefish:
||Medium, minimum population
doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.13-0.22; tm=2; tmax=8; Fec=71,000)
|Atlantic Ocean: in tropical and
subtropical waters, including the Mediterranean, Black Sea,
Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Highly migratory species,
Annex I of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (Ref.
spines (total): 15-16;
soft rays (total): 11-13;
soft rays: 11-15;
Vertebrae : 39-39. Anterior spines of first dorsal fin
much higher than the those mid-way, giving the fin a strongly
concave outline. Interpelvic process small and bifid. Body
naked except for corselet and lateral line. Swimbladder
absent. Incipient protuberances on 33rd and 34th vertebrae.
Back with broken oblique stripes (Ref. 168). Caudal peduncle
with 7-8 finlets. Dark stripes on the back and with 3-7 dark
spots between pelvic and pectoral fins (Ref. 35388).
||Found in neritic waters close
inshore (Ref. 13628). This schooling species is an
opportunistic predator which feeds on virtually everything
within its range, i.e. crustaceans, fishes (mainly clupeoid),
squids, heteropods and tunicates. Specialized traps (madragues)
are used in Tunisia and Morocco. Diving bird flocks may
indicate large schools (Ref. 9710). Utilized fresh,
dried-salted, smoked, canned and frozen (Ref. 9987). A popular
game fish (Ref. 9710).
||Not in IUCN Red List , (Ref.
||reports of ciguatera poisoning ,
Olsen, D.A., D.W. Nellis and R.S. Wood. 1984
Collette, Bruce B.
| Main Ref:
Collette, B.B. and C.E. Nauen. 1983. (Ref. 168)