"Have you heard about bonito? Are they here yet?"
That's the refrain passing between fishermen as August enters its final weeks. Bonito are a passion for many anglers, and they only arrive at this time of the season.
Bonito are members of the mackerel and tuna family. Among anglers, they're commonly thought of as a type of "small tuna" - accessible to those fisherman who can't go offshore looking for big bluefin. Bonito range from 4 to 10 lbs and travel in schools. They're very fast swimmers, and they will strip away line when they hit a lure. They also make extremely good eating, whether enjoyed raw as sashimi, or seared as "steaks" on the grill (don't overcook them - the center should still be pink).
Kevin Blinkoff, editor of On the Water magazine, says right now anglers eager for bonito are focusing their attention on three different locations just south of the islands. They are:
- The Hooter Buoy. Located about 3 miles south of Muskeget Channel, near the deep water end of the Wasque shoal, this whistling buoy is known for its sound.
- Bonito Bar. South of Madaket beach on Nantucket, this is a sandbar that drops off into deeper water.
- Hedge Fence. A sandy shoal that's in Vineyard Sound just north of Oak Bluffs.
Fishing in these areas typically relies on one of two approaches. The first is trolling lures that mimic small baits. Troll at a good speed to try to elude the bluefish, while allowing faster-swimming bonito to strike. The second approach is "run and gun" casting, which involves waiting for schools of bonito to break the surface. They don't stay long in a spot - you'll be lucky to get one or two casts off before they vanish, to reappear again somewhere in the vicinity. For casting, a good bet is to throw small metal lures, like a deadly dick or Swedish pimple, or a Maria jig.
Reports have bonito just starting to show up this week - but expect the action to pick up any day now.
Steve Junker and Kevin Blinkoff have this week's Fishing News in the audio posted above. Give it a listen.