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Bonito and Albacore fishing


Bonito and Albacore fishingThe habits of the bonito are similar to those of the blue-fish, though it is, if possible, even more active and more the embodiment of perpetual and insatiable hunger. They come and leave the coast at the same time, they prey in company upon menhaden and mackerel, and together they are often caught. The two kinds of fish do not mingle, but the regiments rush to battle side by side.

The bonito is known as the skip jack, Spanish mackerel, etc., and reaches a length of thirty inches and a weight of ten or twelve pounds. It inhabits the Atlantic Ocean, on both coasts, and is common in the Mediterranean. It occurs in the summer between Cape May and Cape Sable, off Cape Hatteras, off Block Island, Long Island, mouth of the Chesapeake, and so down to the Gulf.

Schools of bonito cause more commotion in the water than those of the blue-fish; they spring above the surface and are visible at a long distance; they are attended by the same schools of screaming gulls and terns, and leave in their track similar "slicks" of oil and blood.

The bonito is caught on the surface of deep water in the open ocean by exactly similar bait and tackle to that used for the blue-fish; its play is much the same and its resistance quite as strong. Its flesh may be ranked among the many excellent food fishes of our coast, and is a worthy rival of the Spanish mackerel and the sheeps­head.

On the Pacific Coast, the albacore is considered an understudy of the tuna, which it much resembles, both in activity and agility, often seiz­ing the bait intended for tuna. It is one of the commonest fishes of the Pacific waters, found in nearly all tropical seas, but not caught on the Atlantic Coast, and rarely seen. It grows up to a weight of sixty-five pounds; the adult fish, while it is caught near the island shores, never approaches the mainland, being found from two to five miles out.

Always present in vast numbers; feeding and leaping from the water, it is a constant menace to the small fish. The rush of the school of albacores, as they charge the flying fishes, invariably arouses the angling community. The commercial catch is large and important in all the sea-shore towns from San Diego to Santa Cruz. As sport, all find it a paying employ­ment, and go from five to seven miles out to sea, from San Diego, Coronado, San Pedro, Lang Beach, Redondo, Santa Barbara, and all along shore.

The typical equipment is a rod of greenheart, noib-wood, or split bamboo, to weigh about twenty­six ounces, as the fish often sulks, and has to be "pumped." The rod should be in one piece, with a short butt, having extra large tips for albacore and tuna. The rod has double bell guides so that the line can be changed every day and the rod will not curve in any given direction. The reel should be lashed to the rod and be of medium size, to hold 300 feet of wet No. 15 Cuttyhunk line, though some anglers use tuna tackle, owing to the chances of hooking one at any time.

Trolling at full speed, the albacore can be taken with a bone gig. With a slower gait, live bait, sardines or smelt are the common lure. The hook is inserted in the mouth, brought out at the gills, the point turned and thrust into the belly of the bait, near the vent. When pulled straight it is almost concealed.

The mouth is closed with a wire, fastened to the shank of the hook, or thread may be used. Each leader or snell should have two or three swivels; no sinker is required. The launch is manned with a gaffer who acts as engineer, and has the same duties as in tuna fishing. The albacore is a fierce fighter for its size, more so even than the tuna.