Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Bluefish

Bluefish

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Bluefish'
Start a new discussion about 'Bluefish'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Bluefish is also a common name for Anoplopoma fimbria (sablefish
Sablefish
The sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, is one of two members of the fish family Anoplopomatidae and the only species in the Anoplopoma genus...

) in the UK.

The bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), called tailor in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, is a species of popular marine gamefish found in all climates. It is the sole species of the Pomatomidae family.

In South Africa, this fish is commonly known as shad
Shad
The shads or river herrings comprise the genus Alosa, fish related to herring in the family Clupeidae. They are distinct from others in that family by having a deeper body and spawning in rivers. The several species frequent different areas on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea....

on the east coast, and elf on the west coast. Shad can not be commercially sold in KwaZulu-Natal
KwaZulu-Natal
KwaZulu-Natal is a province of South Africa. Prior to 1994, the territory now known as KwaZulu-Natal was made up of the province of Natal and the homeland of KwaZulu....

 and has a closed season (currently October and November) to allow for breeding. On the west coast elf is a commercially fished species.

Other common names are blue, chopper, and anchoa.

The bluefish is a moderately proportioned fish, with a broad, forked tail. The spiny first dorsal fin
Dorsal fin
A dorsal fin is a fin located on the backs of various unrelated marine and freshwater vertebrates, including most fishes, marine mammals , and the ichthyosaurs...

 is normally folded back in a groove, as are its pectoral fins. Coloration is a grayish blue-green dorsally, fading to white on the lower sides and belly. Its single row of teeth in each jaw are uniform in size, knife-edged and sharp. Bluefish commonly range in size from seven inch (18 cm) "snappers" to much larger, sometimes weighing as much as 40 pounds (18 kg), though fish heavier than twenty pounds (9 kg) are exceptional.

North American Atlantic migration patterns



Bluefish are found off Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 in the winter months. By April, they have disappeared, heading north. By June, they may be found off Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

; in years of high abundance, stragglers may be found as far north as Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

. By October, they leave New England waters, heading south. They are also present in the Gulf of Mexico throughout the year.

Life history


Bluefish fry
Spawn (biology)
Spawn refers to the eggs and sperm released or deposited, usually into water, by aquatic animals. As a verb, spawn refers to the process of releasing the eggs and sperm, also called spawning...

 are zooplankton
Zooplankton
Zooplankton are heterotrophic plankton. Plankton are organisms drifting in oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water. The word "zooplankton" is derived from the Greek zoon , meaning "animal", and , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter"...

 and are largely at the mercy of currents. Spent bluefish have been found off east central Florida, migrating north. As with most marine fish, their spawning habits are not well known. In the western side of the North Atlantic, there are at least two populations, separated by Cape Hatteras
Cape Hatteras
Cape Hatteras is a cape on the coast of North Carolina. It is the point that protrudes the farthest to the southeast along the northeast-to-southwest line of the Atlantic coast of North America...

 in North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

. The Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream
The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean...

 can carry fry spawned to the south of Cape Hatteras to the north, and eddies can spin off, carrying them into populations found off the coast of the mid-Atlantic, and the New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 states. The bluefish population is highly cyclical, with abundance varying widely over a span of ten years or more.

Feeding habits



Depending on area and season, they favor menhaden
Menhaden
Menhaden, also known as mossbunker, bunker and pogy, are forage fish of the genera Brevoortia and Ethmidium, two genera of marine fish in the family Clupeidae.-Description:...

 and other sardine
Sardine
Sardines, or pilchards, are several types of small, oily fish related to herrings, family Clupeidae. Sardines are named after the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, around which they were once abundant....

-like fish (Clupeidae
Clupeidae
Clupeidae is the family of the herrings, shads, sardines, hilsa and menhadens. It includes many of the most important food fishes in the world.-Description and biology:...

), jacks (Scombridae
Scombridae
Scombridae is the family of the mackerels, tunas, and bonitos, and thus includes many of the most important and familiar food fishes. The family consists of about 55 species in 15 genera and two subfamilies...

), weakfish
Weakfish
The weakfish, Cynoscion regalis, is a marine fish of the drum family Sciaenidae.The head and back of this fish are dark brown in color with a greenish tinge. The sides have a faint silvery hue with dusky specks, and the belly is white. The origin of its name is based on the weakness of the mouth...

 (Sciaenidae
Sciaenidae
Sciaenidae is a family of fish commonly called drums, croakers, or hardheads for the repetitive throbbing or drumming sounds they make...

), grunts (Haemulidae
Haemulidae
The grunts are a family, Haemulidae, of fishes in the order Perciformes. They are numerous and widespread, with about 150 species in 19 genera, found in tropical fresh, brackish and salt waters around the world...

), striped anchovies (Engraulidae), shrimp
Shrimp
Shrimp are swimming, decapod crustaceans classified in the infraorder Caridea, found widely around the world in both fresh and salt water. Adult shrimp are filter feeding benthic animals living close to the bottom. They can live in schools and can swim rapidly backwards. Shrimp are an important...

 and squid
Squid
Squid are cephalopods of the order Teuthida, which comprises around 300 species. Like all other cephalopods, squid have a distinct head, bilateral symmetry, a mantle, and arms. Squid, like cuttlefish, have eight arms arranged in pairs and two, usually longer, tentacles...

. They should be handled with care due to their ability to snap at an unwary hand. In July 2006, a 7 year-old girl was attacked on a beach, near the Spanish town of Alicante
Alicante
Alicante or Alacant is a city in Spain, the capital of the province of Alicante and of the comarca of Alacantí, in the south of the Valencian Community. It is also a historic Mediterranean port. The population of the city of Alicante proper was 334,418, estimated , ranking as the second-largest...

, allegedly by a bluefish.

Bluefish are extremely aggressive, and will often chase bait through the surf zone, and literally onto dry beach. Thousands of big bluefish will attack schools of hapless baitfish in mere inches of water, churning the water like a washing machine. This behavior is referred to as a "bluefish blitz". Baitfish, such as bunker, will willingly run themselves high and dry on the sand, where they will suffocate, rather than be shredded by the marauding bluefish schools.

Bluefish are cannibalistic
Cannibalism (zoology)
In zoology, cannibalism is the act of one individual of a species consuming all or part of another individual of the same species as food. Cannibalism is a common ecological interaction in the animal kingdom and has been recorded for more than 1500 species...

. Some hypothesize that because of cannibalistic behavior, bluefish tend to swim in schools of similarly sized specimens. Others hypothesize that bluefish school with like-sized individuals, because they swim at the same rate, thus expending the same energy when traveling, and thus having identical food intake requirements. Bluefish are preyed upon at all stages of their life cycle. As juveniles, they fall victim to a wide variety of oceanic predators, including striped bass, larger bluefish, fluke (summer flounder), weakfish, tuna, sharks, rays, and dolphins. As adults, bluefish are taken by tuna, sharks, billfish, seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, and many other species.

Gear and methods


Bluefish are an important recreational and commercial fish.

Baits


Bluefish eagerly take a wide variety of fresh baits. Live or cut menhaden
Menhaden
Menhaden, also known as mossbunker, bunker and pogy, are forage fish of the genera Brevoortia and Ethmidium, two genera of marine fish in the family Clupeidae.-Description:...

, mullet
Mullet (fish)
The mullets or grey mullets are a family and order of ray-finned fish found worldwide in coastal temperate and tropical waters, and in some species in fresh water. Mullets have served as an important source of food in Mediterranean Europe since Roman times...

, mackerel
Mackerel
Mackerel is a common name applied to a number of different species of fish, mostly, but not exclusively, from the family Scombridae. They may be found in all tropical and temperate seas. Most live offshore in the oceanic environment but a few, like the Spanish mackerel , enter bays and can be...

, spearing, killifish
Killifish
A killifish is any of various oviparous cyprinodontiform fish . Altogether, there are some 1270 different species of killifish, the biggest family being Rivulidae, containing more than 320 species...

, eels, squid
Squid
Squid are cephalopods of the order Teuthida, which comprises around 300 species. Like all other cephalopods, squid have a distinct head, bilateral symmetry, a mantle, and arms. Squid, like cuttlefish, have eight arms arranged in pairs and two, usually longer, tentacles...

, shrimp
Shrimp
Shrimp are swimming, decapod crustaceans classified in the infraorder Caridea, found widely around the world in both fresh and salt water. Adult shrimp are filter feeding benthic animals living close to the bottom. They can live in schools and can swim rapidly backwards. Shrimp are an important...

, ladyfish pieces, bunker or similar baitfish are all productive, especially when matched to whatever bluefish may be primarily feeding on at the time. Bluefish eagerly take artificial baits as well. Either trolled or cast with a fast retrieve, shiny spoons
Spoon lure
A spoon lure, in sport fishing, is an oblong, concave lure, usually of metal or shell, shaped like the bowl of a spoon. The spoon lure is mainly used to attract fish by reflecting light and moving randomly.The spoon lure was invented by Julio T...

 and the full range of bright-colored plugs, jigs
Jig (fishing)
Jigging is the practice of fishing with a jig, a type of fishing lure. A jig consists of a lead sinker with a hook molded into it and usually covered by a soft body to attract fish. Jigs are intended to create a jerky, vertical motion, as opposed to spinnerbaits which move through the water...

, plus fluorescent-colored tube lures are all effective. Noisy surface lures at dawn or dusk near a sharp dropoff or in shallow water are also productive, which many fisherman find adds to the excitement as a bluefish attacks their lure on the surface. Bluefish will occasionally "skyrocket"—leap out of the water before landing on and attacking a top water lure or live bait fished at the surface—a spectacular sight for most fishermen.

Little skill is needed to hook a bluefish when a school is in a feeding frenzy
Feeding frenzy
In ecology, a feeding frenzy is a situation where oversaturation of a supply of food leads to rapid feeding by predatory animals. For example, a large school of fish can cause nearby sharks to enter a feeding frenzy. This can cause the sharks to go wild, biting anything that moves, including each...

. They will ravenously strike any natural bait or shiny lure—even a shiny coin tossed into their midst. When in a feeding frenzy bluefish will go after any thing that poses a threat.

Tackle


Bluefish are known to strike just about any type of lure. Topwater plugs, such as bottleneck and pencil poppers offer anglers the most exciting lure strikes, as the bluefish will smack the lures with spectacular ferocity. Metal lures, such as Hopkins, Kastmaster, AOK, AVA and Krocodile will catch bluefish in almost all situations.

Medium-light to medium weight spinning or bait-casting rigs are standard. 8 to 12 pound test line is common when targeting bluefish in the 1 to 3 pound range, while 20 pound test and matched tackle may be the choice when targeting larger specimens, such as pictured above.

Fishermen typically present natural baits on a size 3/0 or 4/0 hook, sometimes followed by a smaller "stinger" hook. These are attached to wire tippets about 6 inches long, which are attached either by swivel
Swivel
A swivel is a connection that allows the connected object, such as a gun or chair, to rotate horizontally and/or vertically. A common design for a swivel is a cylindrical rod that can turn freely within a support structure. The rod is usually prevented from slipping out by a nut, washer or...

 or Albright Special
Albright special
The Albright special or Albright knot is a knot used in angling. It is a strong knot used to tie two different diameters of line together, for instance to tie monofilament to braid. The Albright is relatively smooth and passes through guides when required...

 to 3 to 5 feet (1.5 m) of 50 to 80 pound monofilament leader. Larger hooks are appropriate for larger baits and bluefish. Some fishermen instead choose only a heavy monofilament leader attached to a long-shank hook, which usually avoids the bluefish's sharp teeth. Artificial lures are presented on similar leader arrangements. Steel leaders are a benefit since the fish's razor sharp teeth will cleanly snip through any normal fishing line.

Some adventuresome anglers target bluefish with flyrods
Fly fishing
Fly fishing is an angling method in which an artificial 'fly' is used to catch fish. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialized weighted line. Casting a nearly weightless fly or 'lure' requires casting techniques significantly different from other forms of casting...

 tipped with large, brightly colored and tinsel-lined streamers
Artificial fly
An artificial fly or fly lure is a type of fishing lure, usually used in the sport of fly fishing . In general, artificial flies are the bait which fly fishers present to their target species of fish while fly fishing...

 or surface poppers. Due to their schooling and ravenous feeding habits, bluefish are among the easier ocean-faring targets for those trying their hand at heavy fly tackle.

Commercial fishing


Commercial fishermen take bluefish in the one to four-pound range. Steel leaders are a must since the fish's razor sharp teeth will cleanly snip through any normal fishing line.

Management


Bluefish is a highly sought after sportfish that used to be overfished, but restrictions set forth by management organizations have helped the species population grow.

Other uses


Bluefish are often caught and used as live bait for tuna
Tuna
Tuna is a salt water fish from the family Scombridae, mostly in the genus Thunnus. Tuna are fast swimmers, and some species are capable of speeds of . Unlike most fish, which have white flesh, the muscle tissue of tuna ranges from pink to dark red. The red coloration derives from myoglobin, an...

, shark
Shark
Sharks are a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body. The earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago....

, or billfish
Billfish
The term billfish is applied to a number of different large, predatory fish characterised by their large size and their long, sword-like bill. Billfish include the sailfish and marlin, which make up the family Istiophoridae, and the swordfish, sole member of the family Xiphiidae...

.

Similar Species


Bluefish are the only members now included in the Pomatomidae family. At one time, gnomefish
Gnomefish
The gnomefishes are a small family Scombropidae of marine fish, consisting of three species in the genus Scombrops.They have two dorsal fins and are notable for scales covering the soft parts of the dorsal and anal fins. The eyes are large....

es were once included but these are now in grouped in a separate family, Scombropidae.

External links