Other Names: Tunny, Bonita
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.
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.
Primarily Sand Eels and Squid.
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.