The Bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix
Color is steel blue or dark green above, shading to silvery white below. Dark spot usually shows at base of pectoral fin. Large mouth with prominent teeth. Forked tail.
SIZE: Averages 1-3 pounds in most coastal waters of Florida, with catches to 6 or 7 pounds always possi- ble, especially around major inlets, passes and jetties on both coasts. During runs of big fish, generally in the spring, Floridians have taken blues as heavy as 20 pounds or so. World record 31 pounds, 12 ounces; Florida record 22 pounds, 2 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Small Bluefish make fine table fare if broiled or pan-fried soon after being landed—the same day if possible.
GAME QUALITIES: Outstanding fighter at all sizes. Strong runs and frequent jumps.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Light casting and spinning tackle is adequate in most instances, along with surf tackle for beach and pier fishing. Many big fish, during those aforementioned unpredictable runs, will put light trolling tackle to a good test. Heavy leaders are usu- ally necessary to prevent clipoffs by the Blue’s sharp teeth. Stout monofilament leaders usually suffice, but wire can be used too. Bluefish are ravenous as both predators and scavengers and will take virtually any popular bait—live and cut fish, cut squid, live shrimp. Fast-moving artificials work best, with the nod going to noisy surface plugs, jigs, spoons and swimming plugs, in about that order. Often, though, feeding Blues will slash at anything thrown their way.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting;Trolling; Still Fishing.
RANGE: All Florida coasts.
HABITAT: Schools of small Bluefish roam outside beaches, bays and estuaries of both coasts—mostly summer in the upper half of Florida; fall and winter in the lower half. Many are caught each summer by anglers drifting shallow grass beds for Speckled Trout. Definite southward runs occur each year on both coasts, but they vary in size and extent. Runs of giant Blues—from 8 pounds to occa- sionally 20 or more, sometimes occur offshore and in the surf, usually in March and April on the Atlantic Coast and in late summer or fall in the Panhandle, but these are unpredictable.