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name Season Bag Limit Size Limit Note
Bonito OPEN NA NA No Closed Season

Scroll to read our lastest NJ Bonito fishing reports



Other Names: Tunny, Bonita

General information 

Bonito tuna-like, schooling fish of the tuna and mackerel family, Scombridae (order Perciformes).   Bonitos are swift and powerful for their size. if you are fortunate enough to hook up with one, it will quickly take off and put up a fight.   They have striped backs and silvery bellies.  Like tunas, they are streamlined, with a narrow tail base, a forked tail, and a row of small finls behind the dorsal and anal fins. Bonitos are considered very good to eat.

NJ Fishing Season

Bonito is not currently a managed species. 

It is possible to catch Bonito in NJ waters from July until October.

Bonito Sizes

They can grow up to a length of about 30 inches (10-12 pounds).  They can be as small as 2 lbs.  Average is around 5 lbs.

Food (Bait)

Primarily Sand Eels and Squid.

Angling Tips

In the Summer months (when water temps are at least  in the mid 60's), most Bonito are caught trolling around mid-shore areas such as Barnegat Ridge, Oley's Lump, etc.    Anglers use a variety of sand eel type or squid like lures when casting or trolling.   Clark spoons trolled behind birds is a particularly effective method. In later Summer, Chumming be effective in drawing fish to the boat.  Sand Eels and/or Spearing is a good "go To" for this type of fishing.  Also, in late Summer and Early Fall, Bonito can some times be caught from close to the beach or from the beach.



In coastal waters, spawning occurs mostly June and July in the western Atlantic. They reach sexual maturity at about 16 inches in length. Spawning usually takes place close to shore, in warm coastal waters. By the end of the first year, females will sometimes spawn, although many wait until the end of their second year of life. They release 450,000 to 6 million eggs, depending on size. Growth is rapid.


As with most fish, the quality of the flesh and thus the flavor, will be best if the bonito is bled, gutted and iced as soon as possible after capture.


Cook as you would any Tuna.  Blackened or Grilled is great.



Latest NJ Bonito Reports

  • 2017-09-15 Ristori Bay Head

    Some pretty good weather is ahead of us, and anglers should take advantage of it since there's a tropical storm warning posted for Tuesday. There's already a large swell on the beach, and that will get even larger if Jose continues to swirl around offshore. Ocean chumming for bonito, little tunny and chub mackerel has generally been very good.

  • 2017-09-07 Miss Belmar Belmar

    This morning, we fished on the beach on bird life. We had some albies, bonito and blues in the morning. Once the tide changed, we lost the albies but boy oh boy did the blues bite! We SLAUGHTERED THE BLUES with most anglers onboard catching their limits and some! (but only keeping their limits) They ranged anywhere from 2-5 lbs. Ava 27s, both plain and tailed, worked the best.

  • 2017-09-04 Miss Belmar Belmar

    Today, we sailed out into the horizon east of our port. We anchored up along the edge of the mud hole and started the mackerel immediately. We were able to catch them and keep them all around the boat all day long. We had numerous bonito and some nice sized albies also in the catch. Everything was caught on 007 jigs.

  • 2017-09-02 Ristori Bay Head

    The best report today came from the Golden Eagle out of Belmar which reported a super day of fishing for bonito, little tunny and chub mackerel -- along with a 20-to-25-pound yellowfin tuna boated and another lost. Hopefully, those mullet will move out into the ocean after Sunday's east winds to get the fall surf striper run started early.

  • 2017-09-02 Miss Belmar Belmar

    This morning, we had another excellent day of fishing east of shark river inlet. We anchored up along the edge of the mud hole again and started the mackerel right away. We continued to catch the macs along with some nice sized bonito and jumbo sea bass (which had to go back)

  • 2017-09-01 Miss Belmar Belmar

    This morning, we had another good day of angling. We anchored up along the edge of the mud hole well east of shark river inlet. It didn't take long to start the mackerel and it got better as the day went on with some bonito and a couple of albies mixed in. It was an excellent day of fishing!

  • 2017-08-31 BHCFA Beach Haven

    The captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association used the forced time off to tend to various items on their boats that might have needed attention.

    Last weekend Captain Ray Lopez had the Jayhee Cho party out for a trolling trip at the Barnegat Ridge. The group managed to boat multiple false albacore and one nice Bonita 

  • 2017-08-31 Miss Belmar Belmar

    We ran offshore today and anchored up along the edge of the mud hole. Mackerel fishing was good all day long and we also had bonito and albies in the mix. For the anglers who bottom fished, they were able to stay busy with jumbo sea bass!

  • 2017-03-30 Ristori Bay Head

    When I called a few years ago to question that listing, they conceded that they were using an outdated assessment though the coastal run had disappeared and even the big commercial boats were hardly catching any mackerel far offshore. His daughter, Natalie, was aboard Monday as they had hits every cast with live pilchards to Spanish mackerel and ladyfish, but could only manage a couple of small redfish (red drum) from among lots of non-biters.
  • 2017-01-17 Ristori Bay Head

    Yet, sailfishing had been good Monday, and it was quite fishable for Capt. Scott Stanczyk on Catch 22 from Bud N' Mary's Marina. Unfortunately, there wasn't much action and the sails were very small -- making them difficult to hook on the balao they preferred.

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