Game Fishing > Mackerel Family, Scombridae > Bonito


BonitoThe bonito is a very handsome and gamy fish belonging to the mackerel family. It was named sarda by Bloch, in 1793, from its being taken in the vicinity of Sardinia. It inhabits both coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. It is not uncommon from the region of Cape Cod southward to Florida and the West Indies, where it is more abundant.

It has a long, graceful body, nearly round, its depth a fourth of its length. It is elliptical in outline, tapering to a very slender caudal pedicle, which is strongly keeled. The mouth is large, with strong, conical teeth. The caudal fin is deeply forked, or swallow-like.

Its color is dark steel-blue above, silvery below, with white belly. There are numerous dark oblique stripes running from the back downward and forward, by which it is easily recognized. The ventral fins are whitish, the other fins are bluish black.

The bonito is a pelagic fish, approaching the shores in search of food, which consists of small fishes almost entirely. It grows to a length of three or four feet, though it is usually taken of ten or twelve pounds in weight.

It does not rank high as a food-fish, having rather dark flesh of a strong mackerel flavor, rather too pungent to be agreeable, but it is liked generally by sailors.

There is another fish of the Atlantic coast (Gymnosarda pelamis), of the mackerel family, that is known as the oceanic bonito. It may be distinguished by its stripes being horizontal, instead of oblique; it is rather rare.

The bonito is taken only by trolling with a small fish for bait, or a block-tin, bone, or shell squid, from a sailing vessel, and with bluefish tackle. It is frequently caught by the Key West fishermen when trolling for kingfish with a bait of bacon-rind. It is a powerful fish, and withal a very game one, being a swift swimmer, and must be handled very carefully when hooked. The line should be a heavy one, and a foot or two of brass or copper wire should be used as a snell to withstand its sharp and numerous teeth.