Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
Are bonito fish big?
“Well yeah, they’re what’s called trophy fish, so they’re pretty big.”
A real big trophy bonito fish was recently caught down in Alabama. Instead of being thrown back in the water for future anglers to chase or stuffed and mounted for the wall like most record-breaking fish, the big bonito was reportedly sliced up into shark bait though.
Kayle Davis was participating in the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo earlier this summer. While targeting tuna and looking for some fish to cut up into shark bait for the tournament, he hooked into several nice-sized bonito.
Unbeknownst to the fishing crew, one fish was a new state record for the species.
“I was fishing for blackfin tuna in 1,200 feet of water.
It was not the location I normally go fishing. I’m only on a 21-foot boat. I pushed 74 miles out. I go out a little farther, and we got into a good school of bonito.
We were catching them in varying sizes, some like that one that turned out to be the new state record. We were cutting them in half to freeze them for bait. We decided to keep that one to turn in at the rodeo.
We had no idea we had a state record on board.”
After it was checked in at the rodeo, one of Davis’s friends reached out and let him know that his fish was the new state record, so he contacted the tournament officials who weighed the fish.
“I called and asked the rodeo about it.
They said not to do anything with it. Luckily, I still had it in the cooler. By the time they told me they needed the fish, I had it cut in half to get ready to freeze it.”
Despite cutting the record-breaking fish up into shark bait, biologists with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources had more than enough evidence to verify the record. It turns out tournament officials with the fishing rodeo documented everything needed to confirm the catch as the biggest bonito in state history.
The fish weighed 22-pounds 4-ounces and broke the 21-pound record that was set way back in 1956.
Davis was chumming the water with chunks of live bait to try and stir up a tuna bite when he dipped into the school of bonito with a butterfly jig in deep, deep water.
“I dropped it down, probably 500 to 600 feet, jigging it back up. I probably got to about 100 feet when I got into the bonitos. We put three fish the same size as that one on the boat.”
He wound up keeping the fish in his cooler for 36-hours before he was able to get it weighed it. The fish likely dried out and lost a little heft as a result.
“I had to hold onto the fish for another day, plus we went fishing again. So, it was Sunday afternoon, or 36 hours later, before we could weigh the fish. I had the fish out of the water for a long time and still had the record fish.
It would have probably been a little heavier if I could have weighed it in earlier.”
Though his fish is impressive, the world record bonito was caught in Spain last year, and it is an absolute unit. That fish weighed in at 37-pounds, a full 15-pounds bigger than the Alabama state record that got chopped up into shark bait.
Speaking of good stories about bonito fish, though, who could forget this hilarious scene from the movie Step Brothers.
If you plan on doing any fishing in Alabama, then be sure you purchase a fishing license. Please keep in mind that in states like Alabama, you oftentimes need separate licenses for fishing coastal and freshwaters, respectively.
The sale of fishing licenses directly funds the protection and enhancement of public boat ramps, aquatic environments, and fish populations in all 50 states.
It also protects you from potentially being fined, having your gear confiscated, and/or losing your fishing privileges. It’s important to remember that just because you have a fishing license in one state, that does not mean it is valid in another state.
And as always, please fish responsibly and save the whiskey until after you’re off the water.