Fly Fishing For Bonita
The Bonita is called different names depending on where your are fishing. Atlantic Bonita
probably more closely identifies the saltwater fish we are referring to. Many anglers call
Little Tuna, Bonita. This is common in the Gulf of Mexico but the Little Tuna is not a
bonita. The Atlantic Bonita is a member of the Mackerel family of fish.
These fish average five or six pounds but are caught up to ten pounds along the
Northeast Coast. They range from New England as far south as Florida. Although they
are a pelagic inshore gamefish, they can sometimes be found offshore. They come
inshore during the Summer and Fall months but not in very shallow water. You want to
look for them along the Northeast Coast in five to ten feet of water, not two feet. In the
New England area they are found along the beaches and jetties as early as the middle of
July. They usually stay in this type of water until about the middle of October before
moving out to deeper water. That is one reason fly fishing for bonita is so popular.
These fish eat a variety of baitfish, squid and crustaceans. Three of the most common
foods are the Atlantic Silversides, Sand Eels and Bay Anchovy. The gear you need
consist of a nine weight fly rod. You can go heavier but it isn't really necessary. A fast to
medium fast action works best, especially if there is any wind. Your reel should have a
very good drag because it is certainly going to be used. We prefer the large disc drags. It
should be smooth working or you will lose most fish. Intermediate fly lines are what most
anglers prefer. Sinking lines are also used for getting the fly down deeper. You need at
least an eight foot leader with a fifteen pound test tippet.
Fly Fishing for Bonita can be a lot of fun because of the fast, hard runs they make. They
really make a fly reel scream. They are powerful and can tire you out if you hook very
many. They often make sudden changes in direction and may well end up running
straight at you. Keeping up with them can be challenging at times.
The best time of day is early in the morning. Bonita usually start feeding just after
daylight. The earlier you get on the water, the better off you are. They prefer to feed into
the oncoming tide. When the tide is going out, you most often will find them out beyond
the jetties or inlet feeding on baitfish that are being taken out by the tide. If you are
fishing from the shore, you are better off fishing an incoming tide. Bonita will usually
follow the bait into an inlet. You will also find them along some beaches. You should
concentrate on areas where they are known to make their runs rather than searching for
them blindly. Don't forget to use our "Perfect Fly" Bonita flies. We have several flies that
are very effective in imitating the baitfish and eels they feed on.
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