When the spring warms the coastal waters of the south, anglers set their sights on bluefish, a powerful and aggressive species that deserves every bit of its bad reputation. Bluefish seem to be an angry fish, chomping on anything in their path and bullying their way through surf and waterways.
They are so intent on slashing in and imposing their will that they will even eat other bluefish if nothing else happens to be available. That’s why bluefish schools usually contain fish all the same size: smaller ones are afraid to join the roaming packs.
You can catch bluefish in a lot of ways and with a wide variety of bait and lures. Sometimes redfish or speckled trout anglers, who don’t want to catch them at all, have an encounter with a hungry bluefish that decides to chomp on their grub or plug. However, if you want to target bluefish selectively there are some basic strategies you can use to catch them.
Bluefish are called different names at different sizes. Little ones are snappers, large blues are tailors, and big daddy blues are called chopper. As I said, you won’t find the sizes mixed together too often as blues have no problem turning cannibal on their friends.
For catching spring snappers and tailors out in the surf or on an ocean pier you want medium-heavy gear. You need to decide if you want to bottom fish or throw lures at blues. Fishing with lures is more fun when bluefish are biting but it can become a bit of a chore when they aren’t around.
As far as lures go spring bluefish hit anything fast and shiny. Gotcha-style pencil plugs with redhead and white bodies are classic bluefish lures.
For bottom fishing get yourself a good 7 to 8 ft rod and spool it with 12 lb test line. You will be throwing bottom rigs and need something that can handle two or three ounces weight. Many stores will try to sell you wire bottom rigs for bluefish, due to their sharp teeth. But you will get many more hits if you stick with heavy monofilament leaders.
On bottom rigs, fresh bait is best, and bloody cut bait is hard to beat for bluefish. The cut flesh of just about any fish (even bluefish itself) will get those snappers chomping. Blues also hit almost any other natural bait fished on the bottom including cut shrimp, squid, bloodworms or even earthworms.
Spring bluefish will also hit live baits fished on the bottom. A fishfinder rig is better for this type of fishing. Blues love to chomp on finger mullet, pogies, mud minnows, small pinfish or most any live bait you put out there. Bluefish are great fun to catch and spring is a perfect time to go after them. If you want an encounter with a hard-fighting species that will put your fishing skills to the test, then bluefish are the perfect target for you.