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Old 07-08-2002, 02:36 PM
sterlings sterlings is offline
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A Bonito treatise

We're probably less than a month away from the first catch reports of one of our region's most anticipated gamefish The Atlantic Bonito. As anyone who has landed one of these beauties can attest, there is just something about their speed and elusive nature that makes catching them on a fly rod absolutely addictive.

While I've had success with them - (landed my first last year in a kayak off the vineyard) I have to admit that I really don't know much about their habits, feeding styles, relation to nearshore structure and currents, etc.

I would be very grateful to get some input on how to catch more from some of the reel-timers who have spent years chasing them.

Thanks in advance to all who can share a little wisdom, or even just some good stories, or recepies, or locations related to the New England inshore Bonito fishery.
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  #2  
Old 07-08-2002, 03:47 PM
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David Churbuck David Churbuck is offline
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From a couple summers ago....

I asked the same question of the board a couple summers ago. Here's my solution and Capt. Steve Moore's (Slamdance) advice.

Steve should be the one talking about his bonito/albie set-up. I hope he'll correct any misassumptions my bad memory may insert in it
First -- a little background -- I had been chasing the tiny tuna like a fiend ever since the first time I fished with Reel-Time founder Thorne Sparkman off of Jetties Beach in Nantucket. I wasn't flyfishing then, but he was standing on the stern, sawing back and forth, casting and casting at swarms of crashing albies and yelling at them to "Eat! Eat!" as he stripped away. I hooked one on spinning gear, had the most amazing run of my life, and wondered how it would have felt on a flyrod! The next year I tried to find out. It took me two more years before I did, and then it seemed like an accident

Anyway, I had been using a regular Cortland intermediate line on a ten weight, a really long -- 12 foot leader -- and a variety of flies with no success. I tried fishing Hedge Fence because nearly all bonito reports seemed to focus on Hedge Fence. But that didn't work. I fished the ferry slip in Oak Bluffs and had my first experience with the lunatics who chase every boil and splash like it was their last shot at a fish

Then I went stealthy. I got a clear Monic floater and went to long flourocarbon leaders. Still not a lot of luck

One day, in frustration, I posed the question to the board: what works?
Steve set me straight .
A fast sinking line, like a Teeny 350-450.
A short leader. Like under seven, six feet.
Bonito Bunnies.
Don't chase the fish. Be mellow. Let them come to you. They're zipping around under water more than they are skipping along on the surface.
Slow strip. Lead the schools, let the fly sink, sink, sink. Twitch.
Two Septembers ago, on a calm morning off of the Wianno Cut, there were about a dozen or so boats chasing some big schools of albies. I had Steve's set up at hand, a dozen white bunnies, and just hung off the end of the channel and waited, watching the other boats dash around and tick each other off. I kept the fly in the water, tried not to flub the casts when the schools moved close, and by eight am had boated eight albies. More than I had caught in the previous eight years.
I'm a believer. Fast sink, short leader, bunnies, slow retrieve, don't chase.
Steve? Did I leave anything out?

Steve replied:
Dave pretty much summed it up. The only other thing I might add is to use structure to your advantage, and observe the way the fish are using the structure to their advantage. The area Dave was talking about it a pond outlet with jetties on both sides. A deep, dredged channel flows through flats on either side. The bait gets swept out of the pond with the flushing tide and the greenies attack. The bait goes onto the flats to try to hide where the greenies are less comfortable. So, you've got tuna not showing in the channels and busting bait on the flats. Most people will chase the showing fish but you can have better luck if you just anchor on the flats and cast into the channel where the fish are less visible, but still present.

If you spend a few minutes in an area where there are fish working bait, you can start to see patterns to their feeding behavior and then make judgments on where they are likely to appear again so you can get a few shots off. They use structure to their advantage to trap bait against current seams and even wave faces. As an angler, you can use the same structure to predict where the tuna will show next.
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Old 07-08-2002, 04:10 PM
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Some more reading...

Dave Peros on Bonitos and Albies

Peter Jenkins on Albies

Dave Peros on Bonito (taken from a FishWire)



Don MacGillivray with a giant Albie!
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Old 07-08-2002, 04:30 PM
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Oooooh Boy! It's almost that time again....... I can feel my heart racing!!!!!! Can't wait!!!

Definately a white bunny at low light then onto a silverside pattern after things brighten up!

-mike
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Old 07-09-2002, 06:35 AM
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Old 07-09-2002, 07:57 AM
b.clancy b.clancy is offline
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With all due respect to the experts, I generally have had better luck with fast to medium strips, especially when the fish are crashing on the surface. I also rarely use fast sinking lines, preferring intermediates. As with any kind of fishing though, if that doesn't work, I change the retrieve and fly. Sometimes slow is better. I'll concede slow may work best when fishing deep.
Bob
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Old 07-09-2002, 07:58 AM
sterlings sterlings is offline
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thanks

Thanks for the info on extra reading Mark. This is exactly what I was looking for.
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Old 07-09-2002, 08:15 AM
ANeary ANeary is offline
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I've caught a number of False ALbacore myself but have never caught a bonito. Do you guys believe you fish the same way for both species ? Am I late fishing for bonito and thats why I always catch Albies ? Any thoughts ?
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Old 07-09-2002, 08:32 AM
daveb daveb is offline
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Leslie Smith's remark along the line that the more you fish for them the more you see how little you know about their habits is dead on the mark.

Slow retrieve, fast retrieve, long/short leader, sinking, floating, intermediate.

I've caught bonito trolling 9 inch Rebels with 40 lb steel leaders, on 2 oz jigs bouncing off the bottom, on 1 1/2 oz poppers tied to 20 lb test line.

I've missed them on 8lb test, no leader casting into breaking fish, bunny flies on 6lb leader cast into breaking fish, deadly dicks/fast-trac Rebels/Hairbal jigs/you name it cast into breaking fish.

You just never know.

Prozac is probably a good idea come August.
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Old 07-09-2002, 08:40 AM
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I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Moore on the tactics he employs when targeting the tunoids. I too have been crazy over these fish for the past 4-5 years and they are definitely the most challenging fish we see around here. Sinking lines worked below the surface are the way to go, I have sat and hooked fish after fish doing this while the fleet runs around like chickens with their heads cut off. Very rarely do you ever have to chase these fish, there are times though that you do have to give chase if you want a decent shot at them. But more often than not just sitting and waiting will do the trick and you will be into them pretty quickly. I don't think fly selection is as important as presentation and retrieve speed, as long as the fly is generally the size and shape of the prevailing bait than it will work. Should be hearing something real soon from the Newport area if things are the same as last year, we had Skipjack tuna and Mahi Mahi right off the beach in Newport around this time last year. Then we should start to see the Bones and finally the Albies will arrive very hungry.

Tightlines,
Mike M.
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Old 07-09-2002, 08:58 AM
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Fishing for albies and bones are two different things. The same approach for albies won't necessarily work for bones.

When its albie time, all one needs to do is find a structured spot where they have been know to show, cast a sinking or intermediate line, and almost any fly will work. Albies can be easier than catching schoolie bass, no joke. Getting to your spot BEFORE SUNRISE is crucial. I've caugt too many fish to count before the sun has even risen, with prime time usually ending before 9:00. Anchor in a rip, outside an inlet, on the edge of a dropoff. Chasing alibies usually not a good idea. The majority of alibies I've caught are blind casting.

I rarely catch bonitio completely blind. I much prefer to drift an area with breaking fish. I don't want to encourage run and gun, but its far better to look around for surface action, than to cast bllindly for bonito. Exceptions are places like the hooter where you can fill the boat with them and never see one one surface. I don't believe time matters with bones. The only effect is that boat traffic will make them scatter in some areas. I've caught tons of bones in the middle of the day, while I can't really say the same for albies.

Anyway, I ramble, but these are just some observations I've had in my years of fishing them.
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Old 07-09-2002, 09:10 AM
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Great thread...

I'm going to make it "Sticky" for a while so no one misses it...
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Old 07-09-2002, 10:02 AM
sterlings sterlings is offline
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talking turkey location & date specifics

Alright this is great info, but lets start talking specifics...

How about top places where everybody has caught these fish or seen a lot of them, and the time & date:
(I'll lead off...)

Albies -
1.Egardtown Beach, MV, in front of the lighthouse, mid sept.-mid oct

2.Sakonnet Pt., RI, end of the jetty, Sept.15th

3.State Beach, MV, Big Bridge (Jetty closest to Oak Bluffs), Oct.1st

4.East Beach, MV, on the beach directly stright past the dyke bridge, Sept.28th

Bonito -
1. Cow bay, MV (between state beach and Egartown) at the cluster of lobster pot buoys off the end of the point visible from the far right side of State beach. August 15th

2. Woods Hole, the stone pier, August 20th
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Old 07-09-2002, 10:14 AM
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Bonito...

Under the Sagamore Bridge, Late August, 1986 - 12.7 lb. (never repeated there)

Menemsha Jetty (by boat) on an outgoing tide late August/early Sept.

Half way between the Dump and Noman's - Mid September - they'd turn up in giant schools occassionally inshore of the bluefin. Not targetable, but fun when found...
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Old 07-09-2002, 10:24 AM
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Can only talk about FAs...
East Bay on the drop and Great Neck have both produced many time for me in the yak.
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