Bonito are streamlined predatory fish that can be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. These fish are often found in large schools and blow up anything they think is food, making them a favorite among anglers. While specifically targeting bonito is less common, these fish fight hard and make for an exhilarating trip.
From the same family as mackerel and skipjack tuna, bonito have an aerodynamic body, silver belly, and dark back like the other species. Unlike the other species, bonito have stripes down their back. Bonito generally grow to a maximum size of 30 inches long and up to 12 pounds in the Atlantic Ocean or up to 40 inches long and up to 25 pounds in the Pacific. While these fish aren’t small, their manageable size makes them ideal for anglers using lighter tackle.
Bonito have dark meat that is very oily and carries a more fishy flavor compared to other species. These meat qualities make bonito an acquired taste and less favorable as table fare to the general public. On the other hand, die-hard seafood lovers may find bonito to be delicious. With that being said, bonito are safe to eat and the only way to know if it’s for you is to give it a try.
Anglers rarely head out specifically for bonito unless they intend to use them as bait to catch sharks or other species. Their oily meat is perfect for bottom fishing or deep dropping because it makes a huge scent trail. Bonito are usually an incidental catch while trolling for other sportfish, but targeting them can make for an action-packed day on the water.
Schools of bonito can be found from inshore waters to deep offshore platforms and can be targeted by trolling or casting with spinning gear. Trolling is pretty straightforward, but sight casting to schools of bonito will get your blood pumping. As always, live bait can work well, but lures are better for covering water and keeping up with moving fish. The best lures for catching bonito are anything flashy—from spoons to divers. These fish are looking for an easy meal, so a flashy lure with erratic action is sure to get plenty of attention.
Whether you want to target bonito or just hit the water for the day, booking a guide will be the easiest way to get on the fish. If you’re looking for a bonito trip, keep in mind that they are usually caught while targeting other fish, but our guides are hospitable and will work with you to target whatever you’re after.