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Bluefish Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Bluefish belong to the Saltatrix genus of the Pomatomidae family and are the only extant species in this group. Except for the Northern Pacific Ocean, these fish are found inhabiting all the temperate and subtropical oceans of the world. They occupy most of the continental shelves along the eastern American coastline and can be found in the Gulf Stream and the Gulf of Mexico. However, they do not thrive from the Gulf of Mexico through to northern South America. They prefer to keep relatively close to shore and can be caught above the continental shelf, near rock headlands and in energetic waters near the surf. They will even enter canals, rivers and inlets into brackish water. Occasionally, they will migrate in schools through open water.

The Bluefish has a broad, forked tail and they are fairly proportioned. The first dorsal fin is spiny and is usually folded back into a groove. This is true of the pectoral fins as well. They have a greyish blue-green dorsal section that fades to white on the belly and lower sides. Their teeth are knife-edged and extremely sharp, being of similar size and housed in a single row within each jaw. These fish range greatly in size, from small individuals measuring 7ins to larger ones weighing as much as 40lbs in weight.

With a lifespan of up to nine years, Bluefish are highly migratory fish that reproduce during spring and summer. Fry are zooplanktons that move around with the currents. Adults are powerful and viciously aggressive. They are fast swimmers that congregate in small, loose groups. These fish have voracious appetites and are easily excited into a feeding frenzy - where they will continue to attack long after they have eaten their fill. Their main diet consists of schooling forage fish such as menhaden, jacks, weakfish, grunts, striped anchovies and other sardine-like fish. They will eat their own young and are notoriously cannibalistic. Bluefish can often be seen chasing schools of fish through the surf and into shallow water, where they attack and churn the water heartily. This behavior is known as a “bluefish blitz”. Throughout their life cycle, Bluefish are prey for larger predators. Juveniles are devoured by most ocean predators; including their parents, striped bass, fluke, weakfish, tuna, sharks, rays and dolphins. Mature Bluefish fall victim to sharks, tuna, seals, dolphins, porpoises, billfish and a host of others.

Caution should be taken when handling Bluefish. They have a reputation for biting hands and fingers and can inflict serious injuries. We strongly advise wearing thick gloves and avoid swimming among them when they are feeding. Of course, this notoriety makes them popular among anglers. Off the coast of Florida, we catch Bluefish during the winter months. They have usually disappeared by April and return to our warm waters during October.

Among the world’s premiere saltwater light tackle fish, Bluefish are extremely sought-after game fish. They are tasty, will leap out of the water once hooked, turn their powerful body against you while bearing down and running. Make no mistake; these small to medium-sized fish are fantastically powerful. They are aggressive and will fight you every step of the way - and then some more. Here is some information to help you catch a Bluefish in Florida:

Tackle for Bluefish

Light fishing tackle in the 8lb to 12lb range, pliers, and a wire leader hook combo to avoid your line being bitten off by their sharp teeth.

Bait for Bluefish

Live bait works best, as always. If using artificial bait then a spoon type lure will work. Otherwise we recommend live bait first and then cut bait. A feeding Bluefish is not fussy and will eat almost anything.

Techniques for Bluefish

  • Find them first. They can usually be found feeding near the shore in places where there is a jetty, pier or other structure. Any underwater structure farther offshore should also have some Bluefish hunting around.
  • After you have attached the wire leader hook combo, bait the hook with live bait. Sink the hook under the fish’s backbone and bring it through about halfway down the body.
  • Cast your line and allow the bait to sink only slightly. Reel in your line slowly while stopping to jig it before letting it sink again.
  • Release the bail on your reel and watch that it unravels smoothly through the eyelets of your rod, as it does not have the normal tension that a closed bail does. Doing this will give the Bluefish an opportunity to run easily once it bites.
  • After about ten seconds of allowing the Bluefish a good run, snap the bail shut. This should hook the fish and you should then keep solid pressure on the line. You can do this by keeping your rod tip high and reeling the line in slowly. Maintain line tension until the fish is caught.
  • If you are using a lure, then the procedure is the same. The only difference is that you must not jig. Simply cast, let the lure sink to two or three feet, reel in slowly. Repeat until you catch a fish.
  • Whether using live bait, cut bait or lures; it is always helpful to use a teaser once you have located a school of Bluefish. An irresistible chum is the perfect ingredient. These fish will quickly form a feeding frenzy and then you can catch many of them very successfully. An excited Bluefish will bite anything in its way.

Call today to book your Bluefish Fishing Charter in Florida and fight their exhilarating bad attitude.


About the Author

Capt. Noah

Capt. Noah

Noah is a United States Coast Guard licensed captain and PADI divemaster. He grew up in South Florida and has a passion for all things involving water. He is one of the rare bread of boaters who loves sailing and power boating. Noah sails competitvely and enjoys travelling, photography, and cooking. 


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