Species article: Bonito
While Bonito used to be considered a bait fish, its eating properties were overlooked; it is actually a tasty fish if bled straight after capture and cooked fresh rather than frozen. The main reason this species is so popular with anglers is its ability to fight fast and hard, providing great sport on light fishing gear.
Bonito is an inshore pelagic species, often found along the subtropical eastern and western coastlines of Australia. There are a few species of Bonito in Australia such as: Australian Bonito (sarda australis), Oriental Bonito (sarda orientails) and Watsons Leaping Bonito (cybiosarda elegans). In Australian waters they don’t grow large: to a maximum of about 7kg on the east coast and about 4kg off the coast of Western Australia. Bonito are sometimes mistaken for skipjack although their colour is a brighter green and black stripes appear along the top of the body rather than along the lower sides as with skipjack.
The Bonito are surface feeding fish and most often found close to the shoreline, in rocky wash areas and around reefs, so they can be caught from boats or by anglers casting off from rocks or jetties. Around dawn in summer and autumn, when the water is between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius, is the best time to catch bonito.
The same fishing techniques as you’d use to catch species like skipjack, kingfish and salmon will be successful with bonito. The fish will attack live bait and cubes of fish flesh, as well as flies and fishing lures. While land based anglers are limited to casting and retrieving lures or baits, boat anglers have a much wider range of options including casting lures, and trolling lures and baits. Because bonito have sharp teeth, metal lures will last longer than lures made from softer materials. One of the best types of lure for attracting bonito is the Halco Twisty Fishing Lure or Kokoda Quarter Back Fishing Lures, both versatile metal lures with an enticing actions, available from the Fishing Tackle Shop.
Bonito are very much sought after by light spinning enthusiasts. Fishing reels best suited for land based fishing for bonito should allow a reasonable casting distance, so for angling from rocks or jetties consider a six-eight kilo spinning outfit. For boat fishing, lighter spinning outfits (four-six) would be suitable. For land based fishing you’ll need an 8 to 10 foot fishing rod, while a shorter (6-7 foot) rod is better for boat angling. A great rod/reel combination offered by the Fishing Tackle Shop is a Okuma Epix 60 Fishing Reel with 8 foot Crystal Power Tip Fishing Rod which is perfect for targeting bonito from the shore.
You can fish for bonito from the shore or from a boat close to the shore, and light – medium fishing gear is all that’s needed. Provided that you have the patience to keep casting until the speedsters start to appear, your persistence will be rewarded with some great sport.
Images: The owner of fishingtackleshop.com.au 2011 with few bonito captured from Kiama Blowhole Point, NSW on an 8 foot Uglystik Fishing rod paired up with a Shimano Stradic 6000 Fishing reel with 20lb Power Pro Braid. Lure is a Kokoda Quaterback metal lure.