Thursday, September 9th, 2010 | posted by mike
Bluefish are amazing. Besides being a great food fish, they are one of my favorite game fish—hard hitters, good fighters and pretty easy to find and catch. When I lived in Connecticut in the early 1970s we would catch small “snapper” blues in the spring on spinner baits. I’ll never forget the first one I caught, it couldn’t have been over 8″ long. I tried to remove the spinner and ended up with a good “snap” on my index finger and it bled like crazy. That little bugger had teeth like a piranha!
Those little blues will chomp their way into adulthood eating anything and everything. Schools of bluefish will attack any baitfish, squid or shrimp, leaving trails of blood and half-eaten pieces of their prey. The gulls and sea birds follow the schools for leftovers which makes it easy for fishermen to spot them and just cast into the birds and, “BAM! Fish on!” We also had to troll for blues using lures or plugs (always with steel leader because of their razor sharp teeth). It was lots of fun and good times.
If you’d like to learn more about bluefish, you should pick up a copy of a great book called Blues by John Hersey written in 1987. The famous author lived on Martha’s Vineyard and he fished for blues there for years. In the book, he meets a land-lubbing stranger on the dock and invites him into his fishing world…taking him out all summer and teaching him not just about bluefish and how to catch them, but he brings up a new subject every day that touches on sports fishing, commercial fishing, conservation, ecology, and life on the water. He also includes a poem pertaining to the subject of the day and some simple recipes. The book also includes amazing illustrations by James Baker, which are really great too. You’ll appreciate Hersey’s respect and awe of these fish. As much as he loved to catch and eat them, he never took more than he needed for dinner.
And speaking of Martha’s Vineyard and bluefish, September 12 marks the opening of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, which has been going strong since just after World War II. Today’s derby attracts fishermen from all around the world and participation in recent years has approached or touched 2,000. What I wouldn’t give to surf cast for a few blues off the Wasque Point on Chappaquiddick.
While I dream of surf-casting, we still can get our fill of blues around here…we get them shipped in whole several times a week, as fresh as if they came out of Lake Michigan! As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, those bluefish are voracious eaters, and we have fun sometimes checking out their “last supper” when we fillet. Amazing. We shot a video last fall here that will give you an idea of their ferocity.