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23 Apr

The Bonito Are Coming ……The Fishing Season Is Near

February 27, 2024

The arrival of the Atlantic Bonito signals the beginning of the spring and summer fishing season in the coastal Carolinas. While only here for a short period of time, these silver speedsters are both invigorating to catch and great to eat. Best of all, they always provide a unique fishing experience that will challenge anglers of all skill levels. From maneuvering your boat around the ever-moving schools to making the right cast and having the proper drag setting once you’re hooked up, fishing for bonito on the Carolina coast will provide many great times.

One of the first things that’s important to know is that the Atlantic Bonito are only on the Carolina coast for a few weeks each spring. They usually come in around April 15th, the last day to file taxes. Pay your taxes, then go Bonito fishing, or the other way around is how I always remembered it. The fish migration varies greatly by the water temps and movement of the bait. The water temperature needs to be at a minimum of 58 degrees and a maximum of 64 degrees, for them to stay in the area. Once the temperature moves past 64 degrees, they head north and spend the summer around Nantucket. When Bonito get near the latitude of the Carolina coast, they can be anywhere from the Gulfstream to just a mile or 2 off the beaches. They can likely be found over structure as well as live and hard bottoms since that’s where bait often congregates.



Bonito is a schooling fish and topwater feeders so that means when they are present, they’re easy to spot. It’s unmistakable due to the breaking water and crashing bait. Trolling, casting or even jigging are all effective methods, depending on a few factors. Where the bait is in the water column is important to keep in mind. If you spot the crashing bait being chased by the Bonito, never “run and gun” your boat to that location. This novice mistake will only succeed in spooking the Bonito and the bait to deeper water. Instead, ease your boat near the school slowly. Once you’re within casting distance, cast over the school and retrieve back through the school.

Rigging for them is simple. You can use a wide range of lures thanks to the aggressive nature of the fish. I like to use a ½ ounce white jig head with a pick trout killer. I  also like to use the clear blue Zara Spook as another alternative. Both these lures allow you to cast them beyond the school, letting it drop a bit and then retrieving. Another key step is making sure your reel’s drag is set properly, due to the sudden strike of the fish, improper drag can cause line breaks. The goal is to allow the Bonito to run a bit and gradually adjust the drag. Once the fish slows down, turn it around and bring it to the boat.

Bonita fishing is a great way to start the fishing season. If you’ve never done it, put it on your “bucket list”. It provides wonderful memories and tasty results.



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