An Angler's Guide to Bonito

By: Peter Miller, Bass 2 Billfish

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A Florida fishing expert shares his tips and tools for catching bonito, or 'lil' tunny.'

Though some anglers stumble on bonito when pursuing other species like kingfish (king mackerel), sailfish and tuna, many light-tackle sportsmen already know that these fish make for some fantastic excitement on the water. Bonito are strong, fast and intense. Found year round in Florida, this fish is a smaller member of the tuna family. Like tuna, its meat is firm and dark, with a stronger taste. Fished commercially in other parts of the world, they are most valued as a sportfish in Florida.

An angler who hooks a bonito as a by-product while seeking another species will be pleasantly surprised to find himself on the other end of an exciting, if unexpected, contest with long runs and tuna-like speeds.

Bonito may not have the glamour of their bigger cousins, but this sleek, strong fish can certainly hold its own. Schools can be found working baitfish near structures, reefs and weed lines where smaller fish gather.

Unfortunately for the bonito (but fortunately for the angler), these fish make excellent baitfish for wahoo, kings, dolphinfish and sailfish among others. Their firm meat is ideal for cutting into chunks and strips. So, whether your intention is to hook this exciting fish for fun or for more utilitarian purposes, you can't go wrong with this spunky catch!

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