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How to Catch Bluefish

Watch out they bite!!!!  This would be my first piece of advice for any novice trying their luck with catching bluefish.  A good friend of mine is now thumb-less because of mishandling a bluefish.  Not to worry however, if handled properly bluefish are one of the most exciting fish to catch.  They are highly aggressive and offer one of the best fights that a recreational angler can experience.  An average size bluefish is comparable to a large striper or black-fish.  On a personal note a few friends of mine landed a 10lb bluefish a few years ago and it took all three of us about a half an hour to land the fish.  It was probably one of the most memorable fishing experiences we have ever had.  Not to mention that when you witness a school of bluefish in full blitz for bait-fish it is probably one of the most amazing natural occurrences that is just jaw dropping. 

Very Large Bluefish

Very Large Bluefish

Description of Species:

Bluefish are somewhat blueish to green in color.  Their undersides are more silver than any other cover.  They have a large v shaped tail that can be slightly yellow.  They have Piranha like teeth that can bite into any bait-fish leaving a very distinctive bite mark.  There average weight is 5 to 10lbs for a full grown adult, but much larger fish have been reported.  There eyes have a very distinctive yellow color with a dark black pupil in the middle.  They have excellent vision in most conditions. 

Habitat:
Bluefish are strictly a saltwater species but have been reported in brackish waters if they are chasing bait fish.  They generally will not swim in waters below 55 degrees.  They range from Argentina to Nova Scotchia and are a highly migratory species.  They are present is just about all depths of the water column.  They prefer clear open water where they can spot there next prey easily.       

In New England the blufish generally arrive in late June and stay until early October. 

Feeding Habits:
They generally feed on menhaden, porgies or silver sides.  They can be spotted in large schools with working birds while feeding.  This is generally referred to as a bluefish blitz.  Divers have witness schools of blue fishing condensing schools of fish and then the bluefish ambushing sending the whole school is disarray making it easy the bluefish to pick off stragglers.  Bluefish are also not hesitant to take a flying leap out of the water to catch their prey.       

Best Time of Day:
I have found that the best time of day to catch bluefish is either early in the morning or late at night as with many species of fish.  They will however feed throughout the day.  Overcast and or slightly rainy days have produced very good results for me as well.

Tackle: 
One of my favorite pieces of tackle that I have used in the past with much success is the broken back rebel or any of the larger Rapala lures.  In particular I fish with the black and white colors, but sometimes switch to a light blue shade.  Make sure that you use a steal leader as there razor sharp teeth will cut through any fishing line with ease.   Large spoons or poppers can be very effective as well. 

Strategies

Plugs and Poppers:
Find the working birds they will tell you exactly where the fish are.  They generally make quite a ruckus when they are diving on a feeding school of fish.  Other than finding the blitzes I have found that a slow troll in 10 to 15 feet of water using the broken back rebel produces a steady stream of fish when they are in season.  Find out if they are working the top of the water column or deeper.  If I know they are hitting surface plugs I will switch to a popper.  If you can find the working  fish they are not very particular about what they feed on, but they can be quite selective when they are not in a feeding frenzy.

Chunk Baiting:
Some anglers prefer to use a chunking technique while fishing for blues.  This technique can be accomplished by first attaching a stainless steal leader to your line.  Any leader over 30lb test would be sufficeint.  Attach a medium to large sized hook to the end of the leader.  The gap of the hook should be no smaller than a half and inch thick as you will need to thread your bait with the hook and it needs a decent gap size.  The gap is the space between the neck and the point of the hook.  Some anglers prefer to use mackeral of menhaden as bait for chunk baiting.  Take the piece of mackeral or menhaden and cut it into 3 to 4 inch pieces.  Take one of the pieces and send the hook through the upper center portion of the piece of fish.  Turn the hook and send the neck of the hook through the baitfish.  Continue to pull the steal leader through the fish, essentially threading the leader through the chunk of fish.  Next take the point of the hook and send it through the center bottom of the piece of menhaden chunk.  Try to arrange the hook so it is slightly protruding from the baitfish. 

Some anglers beleieve that using a more distringuished piece of the fish works better.  By a more distinguished piece I mean either the head or the tail of the mackeral or menhaden, but I have caught blues using any piece of the baitfish.  The threading is important because blues have attendancy to just take a bite out of the baitfish, so if too much exposed fish meat is an easy grab the blufish will take advantage of this. 

While fishing for striped bass with eels I unfortunately have had the eal bitten in half numerous times by a hungry bluefish.  Also I should mention here that numerous anglers have found that if they find a working school of bluefish if they can get thier bait down to the bottom fast enough they can land a decent size striped bass feeding on the scraps of the blitz on the bottom of the school.     

Bluefish are a canabalistic species so it is possible to chunk for bluefish with another piece of bluefish, but I personally have had better luck with mackeral or menhaden.

Final Tips:
I would recommend heading out on slightly overcast days or head out early in the morning or late at night.  On certain years later in the season in the northeast around september and October later in the evening around sunset seems to produce the best results.  It really all depends apon how much baitfish is in the immediate location.  If you can find a good school of baitfish either by fishfinder or working birds you should find some good bluefish action.  They can be rather selective at certain times of the year so it pays to switch up your colors often.

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