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Fishing Tips: How to Catch, Prepare, and Cook Bluefish

Updated on May 4, 2011

saltwater fishing

You'll encounter some tough fish while saltwater fishing. Bluefish are one of the best fighting fish in the ocean, pound for pound. Once hooked, the blue will make lightning-fast runs and will often break the surface in an impressive leap. They're found in large numbers on the east coast of the US and are easily caught.

Blues are extremely aggressive. In fact, they're the only fish known to kill just for the joy of killing.They're voracious feeders and will attack just about anything that looks like it might be food. In fact, swimmers wearing shiny earrings and bracelets have been targeted by bluefish. I think the only thing I haven't caught blues on were crabs.

Blues have sharp teeth and are not at all shy about using them. To catch blues, you'll need a foot of wire leader at the end of your line - just one bite from those razor teeth will zip right through monofillament. Use a 3/0 or 4/0 hook.

Opinion on line varies among anglers. Bluefish can weigh up to 40 pounds, but those big brutes are rare. Most of the fish you catch will probably average from 1-5 pounds, with the occasional 20-pounder. I like to use 20-pound test line, just in case.

For natural baits, squid, live and dead shrimp, along with minnows, are effective. The problem with live minnows, however, is that blues often gulp the small fish just behind the head, entirely missing the hook. I've found cut bait to be better, with chunks of mullet my favorite. Just about any cut-up fish will work, however, including other blues.

Blues are all over the depth zones, from feeding on the bottom to chasing schools of baitfish on the surface. Try diferent depths until you locate the fish.

Blues will also readily hit artificials, including spoons, poppers, jigs, and plugs. Watching a big blue engulf a top-water plug is almost as exciting as reeling it in!

Blues travel in schools. If you catch one, make a few more casts in the same area. Chances are that you'll be able to pick up another fish or two.

Once your blue is hooked, pay close attention to what you're doing. These fish are very fast, and they can wrap your line around a piling or other structure before you know it.

When your fish is landed, handle it carefully. Stay away from the teeth! Use pliers or a special hook-remover tool to retrieve the hook.

Smaller blues are pretty good on the table, but they need to be bled first. Many surf fishermen cut the blue's head off and stick it head-first in the sand. You can also make a deep slit in the throat and in the body just before the tail to accomplish the same goal.

When you clean the fish, remove the skin and any dark-colored flesh. This part of the fish is especially strong tasting and somewhat oily. Check out these fish recipes to learn to cook bluefish.

Blues intended for cooking need immediate refrigeration. Their flesh seems to deteriorate more quickly than the meat of other species of fish.

Once they've been properly prepared, the fillets can be fried, broiled, baked, or grilled. Before grilling or broiling, marinate fish in Italian dressing for two hours. Sprinkle with lime juice, garlic salt, and melted butter. Cook until flesh is opaque and flaky.

Larger fish are often smoked on a wood smoker. Add some of the flaked smoked bluefish to softened cream cheese, chopped onions, and garlic salt for a great dip or spread.

Even kids can catch 'em!
Even kids can catch 'em!

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