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

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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

  • 2017-03-30 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    When I called a few years ago to question that listing, they conceded that they were using an outdated assessment though the coastal run had disappeared and even the big commercial boats were hardly catching any mackerel far offshore.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.
  • 2016-10-19 Ristori Bay Head

    Mass caught a little tunny on the way back, and found some school stripers under birds off Keansburg where he caught a doubleheader of 25-and-27-inchers before leaving the flighty stripers. Many cast a Tsunami shad to release a 24-inch striper.
  • 2016-09-20 Ristori Bay Head

    Chuck Many of Annandale spent Tuesday looking for striped bass on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands, and never found one of any size -- but made up for that with a hot bite of weakfish in the Hudson River. There was a north wind blowing when we headed out about 8 30 a. m., but it was moderate enough for decent drifting conditions in the Hudson River after our small peanuts bunkers and sandworms were getting eaten up by porgies and tiny sea bass at Many's favorite rough bottom spots in Raritan Bay.
  • 2016-09-14 Ristori Bay Head

    There were some big dogfish off Sandy Hook, along with sea robins and skates-- and they cast to a few small blues off Leonardo. There was good news in the Sea Bright surf, where anglers finally got good shots at little tunny.
  • 2016-09-12 Ristori Bay Head

    Nick Honachefsky has had shots at them in his local surf at various times of day around Normandy Beach, but they are chasing very small bait and wouldn't hit his Deadly Dick or a Williamson jig. Allen Riley of South Plainfield checked the surf from Sandy Hook to Monmouth Beach at mid-morning and didn't see any signs of little tunny.
  • 2016-09-10 Ristori Bay Head

    The Jamaica from Brielle got into the big blues during their Friday night trip as choppers up to 18 pounds were recorded along with only a few chub mackerel. The Golden Eagle from Belmar was catching 1-pound blues on Friday, but today had 10-to-14-pounders that hit mostly on bait -- plus a few little tunny.
  • 2016-01-21 Ristori Bay Head

    Last Friday's column noted how striped bass anglers were once again bailed out by the Hudson River spawning stock which produced consistent fishing in that river plus Raritan Bay while the coastal migratory was slow again in the spring before providing some shots of hot action off Ocean County in the fall prior to a decent showing of school stripers that worked out well for the party boat fleet due to the change to a slot bass in the bonus bass program. Surfcasters did well with those blues in that area at times, but I never saw any repeat of the spring bluefish blitz of the year before in the Bay Head to Point Pleasant area.
  • 2015-08-28 Miss Belmar Belmar

    All kids 14 and under fish for FREE Monday through Thursday on the Miss Belmar's morning trip for blues from 7 30 a. m. - 2 30 p. m. when accompanied by a full paying adult. With Miss Belmar's 3 engines and a total of 2,100 horsepower, she is the first boat to the fishing grounds every day and we guarantee it.
  • 2015-08-12 Golden Eagle Belmar

    Some days we see soon BONITA, or ALBIE's or MAHI mixed in. The Blues bite better on the bigger baits the Mackeral bite better on the smaller baits.

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