The spelling of the tuna called a bonito is often mistaken for bonita. Bonito is an offshore fish species that congregate in schools. Anglers catch bonito primarily for bait because of the heartiness of the skin and scent, which attracts a wide range of gamefish species. The most effective method for catching fish with bonito is forming bonita strips. Here is what you need to know about bonita strips.

How Do You Catch Bonito

While strip baits are available for purchase, the best approach is catching fresh bonito and forming strips from the belly section.

To catch bonito, venture offshore of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Fortunately, the bonito, otherwise known as a little tunny, is found over deep reefs and wrecks instead of making long runs to blue gulf stream water. 

Anglers troll small feathers and skirted baits between three and six knots over reefs, wrecks, and in blue water behind medium-weight trolling rod and reel combinations.

Look for circling birds and disturbances at the surface of the water. Little tunny feed in schools. Focus your attention on schooling but avoid running through the center of the grouping. Two to three bonito provides ample bait for a day of offshore trolling with strips. 

How Do You Form Bonita Strips

Once the fish has chilled in the cooler, utilize a sharp fillet knife to remove the belly portion of the tuna. 

Slice the little tunny from pectoral fin to pectoral fin. Run the knife from the pectoral fin back to the anal fin on both sides and remove the belly skin and flesh.

Once the belly meat is removed, lay it flat on a fillet table, thin the section by removing a substantial portion of the red-colored flesh. However, never wholly skin the fish. A small amount of meat must remain for durability and scent. 

Now that the belly is thinned cut the piece into strips. The upper portion must be square while the lower section is tapered in a V. The strips must measure between seven and ten inches long by one to two inches wide. 

Salt the top and bottom sides of the strips. Place the strips in a sealable plastic bag over ice. Remember, the remaining meat of the tuna does not go to waste. Cut the fillets free and form thick skin on chunks. Store the pieces in a bag on ice. 

What Kind Of Fish Do You Catch With Bonita Strips And Chucks

We can attest that strip baits are highly effective for catching fish while trolling blue water. 

Trolled strip baits catch wahoo, mahi-mahi, blackfin tuna, yellowfin tuna, sailfish, and more. Fresh strips are the most effective for catching gulf stream fish species. A second option is trolling rigged ballyhoo.

When it comes to bonito chunks, toss them overboard when a school of mahi-mahi comes alongside the boat. The chunks will keep the dolphin in a feeding frenzy. Another option is dropping bonito pieces to the bottom while deep drop fishing for tilefish or wreck fishing for grouper, snapper, and sharks. 

How Do You Rig A Bonita Strip

Offshore trolling lures must be rigged with a wire strip hanger. A strip hanger is a section of heavy fishing wire spun beneath the eye of the hook.

To form a hanger, on a 5/0,6/0, or 7/0 hook, run the wire through the eye to the length of the bend in the shank.

Wrap the upper trailing edge of wire from above the eye around the shank beneath the eye. With a pair of pliers, forcefully turn the wraps for added strength.

Bend the wire trailing to the point of the hook upwards to the eye. The wire is the point of connection for the upper square portion of the bonita strip. Cut the wire to a length of a quarter of an inch. 

To rig the bait, simply lift the skirted portion of the lure, attach the square end of the strip to the rigging wire, and place the trailing end on the point of the hook just beneath the barb. Bend the rigging wire upward to prevent the strip from coming free and drop the skirt to the eye of the hook.

You are now ready to deploy the bonita strip baits behind the boat for trolling. Check the strip after thirty minutes of trolling without a strike. 

Are You Ready To Prepare, Rig, And Troll Bonita Strips

The combination of scent and flash of the silver skin attracts bites from a wide range of offshore pelagic species. If you don’t have time or prefer not to catch fresh bonito, Bait Masters sells prepared and salted strips shipped to your door. Always remember to obtain a saltwater fishing license when fishing from a personally owned boat.