Busting bonito near Carolina Beach

Atlantic bonito are fierce fighters, fun to catch, and good to eat.

Nearshore fishing heats up in April

Coastal fishing in the southeastern NC area can be as unpredictable as the weather during April, but one fish that Capt. Jot Owens counts on this month is Atlantic bonito.

This is a hard-fighting fish that anglers can catch by trolling or by casting. And it has a double payoff.

“Bonito make for some good eating. And they are just a blast to catch,” said Owens (910-233-4139).

By April, he’s usually catching these fish off of Carolina beach in the 1- to 10-mile range.

“Trolling is one method of catching these fish,” he said.

Owens trolls with Clarkspoons on planers or with deep diving lures.

“When using Clarkspoons, I like them in sizes No. 0 and No. 1, in the pink flash series. They have really helped me put a lot of fish in the boat,” he said.

He also likes using a bird rig on top, with a Clarkspoon behind it.

“A bird rig on top with a Clarkspoon about 5 or 6 feet behind it, or a small daisy chain of squids in blue, silver or pink also work very well on top,” he said.

Anglers can find their share of bonito in one of two ways.

“Marking bait on your fish finder is always a good way of locating these fish. But simply watching for birds working the surface is another tell-tale sign,” he said.

On top or not

Often, these fish are slashing on the surface, creating visual targets for anglers.

“When the fish are jumping and busting on top, I like to cast Big Nic Spanish Candy lures. The best sizes are 1/2-ounce and 1-ounce. I like them in pink, blue, green or the Capt. Jot Owens Custom, which is a blue/pink combo,” he said.

He casts these lures on 30-pound fluorocarbon leaders.

“I like to have that fluoro leader between 2- and 3-feet long, and tie it directly to my mainline,” he said. “No swivel.”

But even when they are lurking the depths, Owens said anglers can catch their share.

“I’ve caught some nice bonito by casting a spoon out and letting it sink deep before reeling it in,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2783 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@carolinasportsman.com.

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