Bluefish are the Rodney Dangerfield of the fishing world – they don’t get no respect. And it’s true, if you leave them sitting in the refrigerator for a few days or take one over 24 or 25 inches home, you’ll likely be disappointed at dinner time. But, small fish eaten fresh? They’re downright awesome.
While most of us rarely set out from the dock with targeting blues in specific in mind, this is a great back-up fish that can save the day when species like reds or specks refuse to cooperate. And there’s a simple way you can bring in hordes of them, with a little bit of preperation: always carry a bag of Fishbites Bloodworm or Shrimp, a top-and-bottom rig with #6 or #8 hooks, and a pair of shears.
When the bite for other species is slow, use the Fishbites to catch a dozen or so small fish (any species that doesn’t have a size limit on it will do) and toss them in the cooler. Then, anchor up in an area where bluefish are present. Hold a baitfish over the side and start snipping – the idea is to make a slow but steady gravy-train in the water, and the blues will follow it right up to your boat.
Bait up a hook with a wire trace and no weight, and drift it back so it sinks naturally just like the fish bits, and it’ll likely get slammed in no time. You can also rig up a jig with a “bite-proof” plastic, and cast and retrieve just below the surface where the bits are drifting back. Small spoons work well, too. Just don’t use a standard-issue plastic, or all you’ll reel back is half of a tail.
When you catch your blues, toss the big ones back, bleed the fish under 25 inches by slicing the gill rakers, and kill them immediately with a blow to the head or an ice pick to the brain. Then put them on ice. When you serve ’em up in the next day or two, you’ll be amazed at just how tasty those disrespected bluefish can be.