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Bluefish Fish Identification, its habitats, characteristics, best fishing methods.

Bluefish is most commonly a sea-green color above, fading into a silvery shade on its lower sides and belly. Bluefish rarely exceed 20 lbs. and 40 inches in length. The larger fish caught during a given year generally run between 10-15 pounds. Both male and female bluefish reach sexual maturity by the time they are 2 years old. This species normally travels in large schools, which may contain up to several thousand individuals.
The bluefish Fishing The Bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), also known as tailor in Australia, shad on the east coast and elf on the west coast of South Africa, Blue, Chopper, and Anchoa, is the sole species of the Pomatomidae family.
    The Bluefish is a proportioned fish, with a broad, forked tail. The adult bluefish has a stout body and large mouth that extends posteriorly below and beyond the eye. The lower jaw juts out noticeably. Both the upper and lower jaws are fully armed with large conically shaped canine teeth. Their single rows of teeth in each jaw are uniform in size, knife-edged and sharp. The dorsal fin is divided into two sections. The spiny first dorsal fin, about half as long and high as the second, is normally folded back in a groove, as are its pectoral fins. It has a series of stiff spines supporting the soft tissues of the fin. The second or posterior dorsal fin is equal in length to the anal fin.
    Coloration is a grayish blue-green dorsally, fading to white on the lower sides and belly. Bluefish commonly range in size from 7 inch (18 cm), called "snappers". Regular weigh is 20 lb (9 kg) but could be up to 40 lb (18 kg) and 40 inches in length.

Habitat and Habits
    Bluefish inhabit both inshore and offshore areas of coastal regions, with young of the year fish (those in the first year of life), snappers, often frequenting estuaries and river mouths. This species normally travels in large schools, which may contain up to several thousand individuals.
    Snappers eat a variety of small-bodied animals such as copepods, shrimp, small lobsters and crabs, larval fish and larval mollusks. Adult bluefish are opportunistic feeders, commonly focusing upon schooling species such as menhaden, squid, sand eels, herring, mackerel, and alewives, as well as scup, butterfish, and cunners.

    Most juvenile bluefish spawned in the south during the summer in the mid-Atlantic and in the fall spring in the South Atlantic remain in the coastal waters, but some summer-spawned fish do enter the lower Bay for a couple of months before they return to the coast in the fall and join the adults in their move southward. Most bluefish mature by age 2 (approximately 14 inches). The number of eggs produced of females is related to their size, with 21-inch female producing about 900,000 eggs and a 23-inch female about 1,100,00 eggs per year. Spawning and larval development takes place offshore in the South Atlantic (North Carolina to Florida) in the spring and to a lesser extent in the summer and fall, and in the mid-Atlantic during the summer. In Maryland, peak spawning occurs offshore in July.
    Spawning occurs primarily offshore over the continental shelf when water temperatures warm to between 64 and 74 degrees F. After hatching, larvae inhabit surface waters and are swept along the continental shelf by prevailing currents. The number of offspring surviving to enter the population in a given year is influenced by the circulation patterns of currents on the continental shelf. If larvae move shoreward to suitable habitats, many survive; if they are moved further away from shore off the continental shelf, high mortality caused by starvation results.
    After they spawn, bluefish move inshore with smaller fish generally entering Chesapeake and Delaware Bay and larger ones moving northward. Juvenile bluefish grow quickly and by late fall, there are usually two size groups along the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts. Those fish that were spawned in the south during the spring are 6-8 inches, whereas those spawned in the summer are 2-4 inches. Most juvenile bluefish spawned during the summer in the mid-Atlantic and in the spring in the South Atlantic remain in coastal waters, but some summer-spawned fish do enter the lower Bay for a couple of months before they return to the coast in the fall and join the adults in their move southward.

Fishing Methods include trolling, chumming, casting, jiggling, and live and dead bait fishing from boats, shores or piers. Live baits are best, but plugs, lures or feathers are also used. The greatest success in angling for snappers occurs from August through September. Fishing for adult bluefish generally improves through the summer as more fish start moving into inshore areas, and extends through October, after which waters cool and the fish migrate offshore and southward. Snappers are caught in estuaries and bays, and adults are caught along rocky or sandy shores and from boats. Many anglers prefer light spinning rods with less than 8 to 12 lb.-test line when fishing for snappers. When fishing for adults, the style of rod and line strength will vary depending upon whether one uses spinning or conventional gear to cast, troll or drift bait. Small swimming lures and drifted bait (silversides and sand eels) are frequently used for snappers or small adults.
    Bluefish eagerly take a wide variety of fresh baits. Live or cut menhaden, mullet, mackerel, spearing, killifish, eels, squid, shrimp, ladyfish pieces, bunker or similar baitfish are all productive, especially when matched to whatever bluefish may be primarily feeding on at the time. Bluefish eagerly take artificial baits as well. Either trolled or cast with a fast retrieve, shiny spoons and the full range of bright-colored plugs, jigs, plus fluorescent-colored tube lures are all effective. Bluefish occasionally leap out of the water before landing on and attacking a top water lure or live bait fished at the surface--a spectacular sight for most fishermen.
    As with most fish, the quality of the flesh, and thus its flavor, will be best if the bluefish is gutted and iced as soon as possible after capture. The soft-textured bluefish flesh has high oil content. When concentrated, fish oils can create a strong flavor that is not favored by many people. Bluefish fillets can be marinated in acidic foods such as vinegar, lemon or lime juices, or wine, or they can be cooked with fresh vegetables such as tomatoes and onions. These methods will lighten the flavor as well as retain the oils that confer the full health benefits associated with eating fish.
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