ED­I­TO­RIAL

Sport Fishing - - CONTENTS - BY DOUG OLAN­DER

Not many an­glers in Flor­ida or the Gulf coastal states will go out of their way to tar­get bonito. Sure, the small tuna puts up a good tus­sle, but it’s a rare an­gler in­deed who would call up his bros to say, “Hey, let’s go out to­mor­row to see if we can catch some bonito!”

It’s a damned shame, on the other hand, that false albacore aren’t avail­able to an­glers in Flor­ida. One sel­dom hears of those small tuna be­ing caught south of the Caroli­nas. But you know they must be re­ally great game fish be­cause light­tackle and fly an­glers go nuts when the false al­bies are run­ning, and will en­thu­si­as­ti­cally plan a day to go out and tar­get them. In fact, we de­vote an en­tire fea­ture this is­sue to help­ing false albacore en­thu­si­asts en­joy more suc­cess.

So, I guess the take-away is: Bonito kind of suck, but false albacore are fab­u­lous lit­tle gamesters.

But wait — the two “species” are ac­tu­ally the very same fish, prop­erly called the lit­tle tunny, Euthyn­nus al­let­ter­a­tus.

If a rose by any other name still smells as sweet, you’d have to fig­ure a false albacore by any other name fights as hard.

And the fact is, lit­tle tun­nies fight as hard as bluefin, pound for pound, giv­ing it all they’ve got. When matched to suit­able tackle, they’ll make a drag sing and an an­gler dance to keep up with a fish run­ning this way and that around and un­der a boat.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween bonito and false al­bies all comes down to re­spect.

Con­sider in that con­text, then, the lowly bonito. They fight like demons, are star­tlingly beau­ti­ful, and ag­gres­sively strike lures and flies. But most an­glers in Flor­ida pre­fer to avoid them. They’re con­sid­ered a nui­sance. Yet the same fish up north en­joy real pres­tige. They’re con­sid­ered game fish and bring great sat­is­fac­tion to folks there.

An­other Rod­ney Danger­field is jack crevalle. They as­sault plugs and flies with thrilling bel­liger­ence, and then bat­tle with the stamina of the En­er­gizer bunny. While an­glers would likely agree they’re fun to catch, not many go out of their way to find them. These jacks are in fact a smaller ver­sion of the gi­ant trevally, yet the GT is revered as an awe­some game fish for the very sort of qual­i­ties the un­der­val­ued crevalle ex­hibits.

There are lots more ex­am­ples, in­clud­ing a game fish (yes, game fish!) I feel is de­cid­edly un­der­rated: the gafftop­sail cat­fish. Yeah, they do leave a bit of slime on one’s leader, but they are tremen­dous fight­ers and will hit lures (I’ve caught many on top­wa­ters), plus are one of the coolest-look­ing cat­fishes. I’ve watched sea­soned an­glers hap­pily as­sume they’re fight­ing a good red­fish, only to be dis­gusted when it turns out to be a sail­cat. What? They didn’t just en­joy an ex­cit­ing bat­tle?

Of course, ed­i­bil­ity is of­ten cited as a rea­son these fish don’t en­joy more re­spect. I’ve heard it said more than once that if bonito or jacks were good eat­ing, ev­ery­one would love ’em.

But with so many an­glers these days declar­ing their fo­cus largely on catch-and-re­lease fish­ing, more for sport than food, that’s a bit hard to fig­ure.

I sus­pect that an­glers who don’t get overly hung up on the pres­tige of a given species are prob­a­bly hav­ing a lot more fun than those hunt­ing only glam­our fish and tro­phies.

I’m fish­ing not to im­press oth­ers, but rather for the sheer plea­sure of it. I re­spect any game fish — in­clud­ing bonito, jacks and sail­cats — that can put a tight bend in my light spin­ning rod and make my reel’s drag sing. For that kind of ac­tion, I say with­out shame: Deal me in ev­ery time.

THE GI­ANT TREVALLY IS REVERED AS AN AWE­SOME GAME FISH FOR THE VERY SORT OF QUAL­I­TIES THE UN­DER­VAL­UED JACK CREVALLE EX­HIBITS.

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