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Atlantic bonito Fish Identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.

The Atlantic bonito is a fish that travels in huge schools, often mixed with bluefish and mackerel within 20 miles of the shoreline. It is located in the southern Atlantic and the Gulf Coasts year round and in the northeast during the summer when waters are warmer. It is a a small streamlined tuna species that is extremely fast swimming, an aggressive surface feeder that have good meat. Atlantic bonito usually averages from 3 to 8 pounds. Bonito is the most important species among the Black Sea fish in terms of commercial value.
A combination of understanding the fish and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.
The Atlantic bonito Fishing The Atlantic bonito, Sarda Sarda is a large mackerel-like fish of the family Scombridae, also known as Belted Bonito, Common Bonito, Katonkel. They located in Eastern Atlantic from Norway to South Africa, also known from the Mediterranean and Black Sea. They are in Western Atlantic from Canada to Florida and northern Gulf of Mexico, then from Colombia, Venezuela, and to northern Argentina.

    Atlantic bonito belong to a group which have the dorsal fins very near, or separated by a narrow interspace. It has the body completely scaled with those scales in the pectoral fin area and the lateral line usually larger in size. Bonitos different from tuna by their compressed bodies, by having no teeth on the roof of the mouth, and by certain coloring differences. The Atlantic bonito can be distinguished by its oblique dorsal stripes, which are at a greater angle than in other species of Sarda.
    The bonitos have stripes on the back, not the belly. The first dorsal fin has 20-23 spines. The second dorsal fin consists of 13-18 rays followed by 7-10 finlets. The anal fin consists of 14-17 rays followed by 6-8 finlets. The pectoral fin has 23 to 26, but usually 24 or 25 rays. The caudal peduncle has a lateral keel on either side. Upper jaw of an Atlantic bonito has 16 to 26 teeth; lower jaw has 12 to 24 teeth; vomerine teeth can sometimes be present. As with all Scombroid fishes, there are also two smaller keels farther back, above and below the main keel. The Sarda species have no teeth on the tongue and no swim bladder. Also, the intestine is straight, rather than folded in the middle. There is a total of 16-23 gill rakers on the first gill arch. The back is steel blue or blue-green. The lower flanks and belly are silvery. A surface feeder, the Atlantic bonito usually averages from 3 to 8 pounds.

Habitat and Habits
    The Atlanitc bonito will inhabit either brackish or coastal saltwater areas. This migratory species is commonly found schooling. Fish occurs in tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic Ocean from Argentina to Nova Scotia and from South Africa to Norway. It is apparently rare in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, and is common in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. It is replaced in the Pacific by other Sarda species. This species is pelagic, schooling and migratory and feeds on smaller fishes and squids usually at or near the surface, casting, jiggling, or live bait fishing. Adult bonitos prey on schooling sardine, anchovy, mackerel and other small pelagic fishes. The Atlantic bonito is an epipelagic, neritic, schooling tuna species that can adapt to gradual but not sudden changes in the environment and may occur in water temperatures between 12 and 27.

    They typically reach sexual maturity at age 2. The spawning grounds are typically in coastal areas. The spawning season occurs from May to July in Mediterranean and Morocco, June-July in Northwestern Atlantic, June and July in the northwestern Atlantic. The Atlantic bonito disperse their eggs in the eastern Atlantic Ocean between December and June and the peak is reached in January. Larger females produce significantly more eggs than smaller females, with the average adult producing 80,000 to 2 million eggs per year. The eggs and larvae pelagic. They are approximately 0.94 mm in diameter, with a clear shell. Atlantic bonito is a multiple spawner (3 or 4 times per season).

Fishing Methods.
Most anglers prefer trolling for these fish. Because they are surface feeders, you want to keep your bait just below the surface while trolling. Spoons and feather jigs work best for Atlantic bonito. Chumming can also be effective, but it can be challenging at times. They will often feed on the chum, but refuse to eat any of the baits that are set up with hooks. Using lighter line and small hooks are a must. By burying the hook completely into the bait, you will have a much better chance of fooling the Atlantic bonito. Ground up menhaden and other forage fish will work for chumming. Bonito are also very common game for shore anglers. Cast flies and lures that resemble baitfish commonly found near shore from the beach, jetties or rocks. Baits include small pelagic schooling fishes and squid as well as cut fish, strip baits, or any of a variety of artificial lures. The flesh is light colored and of good quality, though held in low esteem by some.
    The bones show up along the nearshore structure late March/early April to spawn and will stay around until the water temp gets to 70 degrees then they leave usually by the first of May. Going out in the early morning and late afternoon you can cast to fish busting chasing bait. During the day, you can jig and it will produce AWESOME results. The technique here is quite unique. Most of your bonito bites will occur as the jig is falling. Therefore, make a long cast over structure or bait and let the jig free fall down 20 feet then rip it back to the surface and let it fall again. This technique is super deadly for bonito but also works well on spanish mackerel, king mackerel and false albacore. Because the bonito are here to spawn, they will usually show up at the same places year after year. Diver's rock is a good spot to try.
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