Bruce Trujillo looked at a dozen boats bobbing for position in the water around him. Choosing a path, he flipped a couple of Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow deep divers in the boat’s wake and began trolling for Atlantic bonito.

“When everyone is jockeying for position, they scatter the fish and run them deep,” he said. “If I can’t see them on top, I troll to find them.”

Trujillo’s target on plenty of April and early May trips, the Atlantic bonito, is a tasty, football-shaped and football-sized member of the tuna family that makes an annual run along the coast of both Carolinas in early spring. 

Marked by a series of dark stripes on the back above the lateral line, they are often confused with false albacore — which have worm-like markings on their backs and are generally considered inedible — and the skipjack tuna, which has dark stripes below its lateral line. And they are generally the first pelagic fish to show up in these waters, giving anglers plenty to do after a long winter at the dock.

Trujillo, who runs Tight Loop Charters (910-675-0252) out of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., calls Yo-Zuri’s deep-diving plugs his “search and destroy” lures. Besides bonito, he said they will catch Spanish and king mackerel that may lurk in the same areas; one of his favorites are the 5-Mile Boxcars (AR 372) out of Masonboro Inlet, and he’ll catch them at the 10-Mile Boxcars (AR 376), the Mears Harris Reef (AR 370) and the Phillip Wolfe Reef (AR 378).

“You can’t fish a Yo-Zuri wrong,” he said. “I put out four of them: one long, one medium, one short and one in the prop wash. I use