"Hast seen bonito?"
Mid-August is here, bringing symptoms of Bonito Fever to anglers across the Cape and Islands. The fast-swimming member of the tuna family arrives from the south at this time of year, and its appearance is eagerly awaited by many fishermen. Already, reports of bonito catches are coming from the Hooter and the Bonito Bar, two locations south of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard known for early bonito bite.
Bonito are reknowned for being very picky. Along Vineyard Sound they appear in brief feeding frenzies, then disappear just as quickly - one or two casts may be all you get! Agitated, fast-flying flocks of terns may signal their presence. An "eruption" of bonito, once it vanishes, will prompt boat-anglers to sit and wait a long time for the school to reappear; at first sign, the fishermen power-up and dash to the next frenzy, perhaps to get off only a couple of casts: what's called "run-and-gun" fishing.
Bonito feed on small fish, so lures that mimic small fish may work best - a Deadly Dick, Maria Jig, or something similar. Bonito can also be caught by trolling at a good speed, which helps to avoid picking up the bluefish that may typically be mixed in with bonito.
And they do make good eating. I have eaten bonito as sushi - it makes a memorable meal. Or sear it quickly and lightly on a hot cast-iron skillet, or on the grill. It's a type of tuna, it has pink flesh, and should not be overcooked.
Steve Junker and Kevin Blinkoff talk bonito fishing in the audio posted above.