Monday August 21, 2017
Bonito, Little Tuny, False Albacore
Atlantic bonito belong to a group which have the dorsal fins very near, or separated by a narrow interspace. Its body is completely scaled, with those scales in the pectoral fin area and the lateral line usually larger in size. Bonitos (fishes in the genus Sarda) differ from tuna by their compressed bodies, their lack of teeth on the roof of the mouth, and certain differences in colouration.
Atlantic bonito share Atlantic waters with the striped bonito, Sarda orientalis (the Atlantic population of which is sometimes considered a separate species, Sarda velox). The striped bonito has been taken on the Atlantic coast as far north as Cape Cod. It is similar in its habits, but somewhat smaller than the more common Atlantic bonito. The Atlantic bonito can be distinguished from its relative by its dark oblique stripes on the back and with a maxillary only about half as long as the head, whereas the striped bonito has striping on its topside nearly horizontal and a maxillary more than half the length of the head.
Atlantic bonito grow up to 75 centimetres (30 in) and weigh 5?6 kilograms (11?13 lb) at this size. The world record, 18 pounds 4 ounces (8.3 kg), was caught in the Azores.
The little tunny is found in the neritic waters of the temperate and tropical zones in the Atlantic ocean. It can also be found in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. In the eastern Atlantic, the little tunny has been found from Skagerrak to South Africa. Although found it this broad range of latitudes, it is rare north of the Iberian Peninsula or farther south than Brazil. On the Atlantic coast of the United States, they can be caught as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and as far south as the tip of Florida, as well as throughout the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The little tunny's habitat tends to be near-shore waters, much closer to shore than most other tunas. They live in and around inlets, points, jetties, and sandbars. All of these places are where bait fish like sardine and menhaden, both favorites of the little tunny, form large schools, which are very helpful to the little tunny's feeding style. While the little tunny is abundant in offshore ocean waters, it is unusual to find it in brackish water of estuaries. The very young will enter estuaries in South Africa. The little tunny prefers relatively warm water, from 24° to 30° Celsius. The little tunny migrates south in the winter and fall, and northward in the spring, through coastal waters. It is not as migratory as other tuna species.
The little tunny is typically a schooling species. It lives in schools based primarily on fish size rather than species, so other members of the Scombridae family, like the Atlantic bonito, may be present. These schools cover areas up to 3.2 kilometres long. Little tunny that have not yet reached adulthood form tight schools offshore. Larger schools are more common offshore whereas smaller groups may wander far inshore.
Bonito travel in large schools sometimes a half mile square. Most anglers catch Bonito while fishing for Kingfish; Bonito will hit on any bait if they are in the area. This fish is fun once hooked because it puts on an aggressive, furious fight.
The Bonito is in the Tuna family and is not commonly eaten in Florida due to it's size which is 4 to 15 pounds. You can identify the Bonito called False Albacore or Little Tunny by it's spots on the belly (not visible in this picture but there) and they do not have stripes but a wavy blue and silver pattern on their tops. This Bonito is similar to the Atlantic Bonito in structure and often misidentified. The Atlantic Bonito is from the Mackerel family and is not palatable where the Little Tunny Bonito is excellent eating because it's from the Tuna family. The bloody red meat of this Bonito must be bled in ice water for hours and the thick blood line must be removed before cooking it like any other Tuna. For more information visit Anglers Trash Sushi Grade Tuna.
Bonito feed on herrings, menhaden, hake, mackerels, anchovies, shrimp and squid. Bonito is a popular bait for Billfish, Kingfish and Sharks used by tournament anglers who go out the day before the big day and catch Bonito offshore for live bait during their tourney.
Of the thousands of fish species found in Florida waters, the vast majority have no specific regulations at all. These ?unregulated? species include some very popular sport fish that are commonly caught by recreational anglers such as white grunt, gulf kingfish (whiting), gafftopsail catfish, ladyfish, cero mackerel, blackfin tuna, bonito, great barracuda, gulf kingfish, pinfish and jack crevalle. The list also includes thousands of other species that are less frequently targeted but sometimes caught incidentally including spadefish, American eels, silver perch, croakers, hardhead catfish and many others. The term ?unregulated? can be misleading because standard recreational gear requirements still apply, and there is a default bag limit established by Florida Statute for any species harvested by a recreational angler. Harvesting amounts that exceed the default recreational bag limit (which are defined as commercial quantities) and commercial sale of all unregulated species would require a saltwater products license.
Florida Record: 27 lbs.
Published by: Captain Richard Bradley of Lagooner Fishing Guides© on 2017-02-08 14:41:11