Spring Is Almost Here And So Are The Bonito…Here’s What You Need To Know.
Saltwater Anglers have many ways they kick off the spring fishing season. Usually, for offshore fishermen, it’s Memorial Day. For the nearshore and inshore anglers, it’s when the Bonito start churning the water chasing bait a few miles offshore. This event takes place close enough out the inlet for most small center consoles to safely navigate and still enjoy high-action fishing. Fish will hit the bait at a high rate of speed and start what seems to be a never-ending battle by running yards from the boat. These silver rockets are named in the top 10 of the fastest fish in the world.
Possibly the best part of fishing for Bonito is the simplicity of it. You want to start by waiting on the right water temp. These fish are quick migrators and will only be around for a few weeks, which is around the middle of April. Many anglers mark their fishing calendars on “Tax Day” as the beginning of Bonito season. A better way to determine their arrival is when the water temp hits around 60 degrees.
Rigging for Bonito is one the most simple fish of all species. A flashing spoon like a Clark Spoon with a small weight and a fluorocarbon leader is all you need. Using a more complicated colorful lure will only detract from the flash you need. This is clearly seen when you catch your first Bonito and inspect what they spit when you get them in the boat. You’ll find a small silver baitfish and that’s what you want to replicate. Next, start looking for the birds as you work your way offshore. Also look for bait balls breaking the water. When you see that, you know the Bonito are chasing the bait to the surface.
Next is when mistakes are made. Approach the bait balls slowly and stay on the outside of the perimeter to not spook the Bonito or the bait from heading for the bottom. Cast into the bait ball and retrieve your cast quickly. A Bonito bites on impulse and retrieving slowly only gives them time to realize that your lure is not what they’re looking for. Just keep repeating the process until you get a strike, making sure not to drift into the bait ball. Now, get ready for the ride. When you’re hookup up, make sure your drag is set for high speed. Having your drag too tight will only result in a broken line. Let the fish bite, start to slowly tighten your drag, and slow the fish down. Start the retrieval. Don’t tighten the drag too much since the fish may have a second urge to run again. Continue playing this game until you get them to the boat. You and the fish will likely be tired, you can believe it.
Bonito fishing is great fun and a super way to start the 2023 fishing season.