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Bonito: The Common Tuna


Bonito are medium sized fished that strike hard. They are found all over the globe and are a fun fish to catch.

The Bonito (sarda) is known for its hard strikes and long runs and is the most common tuna in the Atlantic. Known in Hawaii as Kawa Kawa and in the Northeast U.S. as the False Albacore, it swims in large schools and is a much sought after game fish.

This tuna-like schooling fish belongs to the tuna and mackerel family, Scombridae. Bonitos are speedy, predacious fishes found worldwide. They have striped backs and silvery bellies and grow to a length of about 75 cm (30 inches). Similar to tunas, they are streamlined, with a narrow tail base, a forked tail, and a row of small finlets behind the dorsal and anal fins.


Four species are generally recognized: S. Sarda of the Atlantic and Mediterranean, S. Orientalis of the Indo-Pacific, S. Chilensis of the eastern Pacific, and S. Australis of Australia and New Zealand. Pacific bonito are the only tuna-like fishes on the California coast that have the slanted dark stripes on their backs.

The Atlantic Bonito is commonly found off the shores of New York City. Because of their habit of jumping out of the water, they are sometimes referred to as “skipjack.”


The fishing methods are straightforward, once a school is aroused they will take almost any bait or lure that is tossed in their direction. Most Pacific Bonito are taken by a combination of live bait and trolling. The schools are located by trolling feathers and squid pieces are used to bait the fish once located.