The Rodney Dangerfield of the angling community, bluefish don’t get no respect. This is a shame, because bluefish fight great, strike hard, and often leap into the air as they attempt to shake the hook free. True, larger fish aren’t the best table fare, but blues less than a few pounds do taste great just as long as you don’t freeze them before cooking. (Much like a mackerel, the meat goes a bit mushy when frozen and this species should always be eaten fresh). Try targeting and battling with some blues along the coast and you won’t regret it; these tips will help you get ’em on the line.
- Offer them something with flash. Blues love to hit spoons (again, much like mackerel) and will often take spoons both trolled and cast. When fishing with jigs, choosing one with some tinsel or a glitter finish will increase the number of strikes you get.
- Remember that blues have razor-sharp teeth. Using metal lures will help keep them on the line, but in the case of small lures, jigs, or plastics, adding a three to four inch trace of wire leader will prevent countless bite-offs.
- Look for them in areas where there are large shoals of bait. Blues are schooling fish rarely found alone, and they usually congregate in areas where there’s enough baitfish around to keep an entire school occupied.
- When you’re live-baiting and fish you suspect may be blues bite the tails off your livies, start trolling with lures. Blues aren’t picky about what they eat, but they do have keen eyesight and when they have time to eyeball a bait, are known for biting off bits and pieces while avoiding the hook. Combat this by forcing them to chase and strike quickly, without allowing them time to stare at the offering and carefully plan where they will bite.
- When fishing near an inlet on an outgoing current, try fishing around visual changes in the water. Blues will often hunt just outside an inlet as the current rushes out, using changes in water color as cover, much like structure.
When you do get some blues into your cooler, remember: fillet and eat them that evening, or the next day at the latest. Try it, and you’ll discover that this species deserves just as much respect as other predators we like to target.