- Last Updated on Sunday, 30 December 2012 19:22
- Published on Wednesday, 08 July 2009 14:00
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I cannot fathom how many times I have heard anglers make derogatory comments about the taste of bluefish. Perhaps you are about to turn the page now as you have already decided that bluefish are a waste of your time. I challenge you to at least read on and consider what I have to say.
Years ago bluefish were king in the bay and in the lower Potomac. I have heard tell of bluefish up to 15 pounds and even tales of 20 pounders chomping off the bodies of small fish being reeled in. While I have seen only a few 10-plus pound bluefish I have tasted some of those larger blues. I will admit right away that any large fish tends to taste poor, and it tends to be tough.
However, when bluefish were more abundant in our local rivers and they were sought after for sport, food was a secondary consideration. I believe this is when they began to get a bad name for the table. One thing a real fish eater learns fast is that any fish that is permitted to die and remain warm or get hot tastes terrible. This is particularly true of and oily fish such as bluefish. In the heyday of blues, many anglers would toss them in a bucket or bin without a lot of ice and ride around fishing for a while. This killed the taste of the fish right away.
By the time this article prints, the bluefish will be in the bay and our lower rivers in force. Most of the blues in the area average a pound or two. By August, the fish can weigh as much as 5 pounds. Many anglers cast spoons or troll for them. Bluefish are well known for their fight and they can be considered a scourge to anglers because their sharp teeth cut up sassy shads and cost anglers lots of money. However, the fight these fish put up is very feisty and well worth the time and effort. Many charter captains can help you get a limit in no time and then go fish for something else.
If you have the tools to get a chumline going in the bay, then you know that within a few minutes you can be into your limit of ten bluefish. They get into a feeding frenzy and are aggressive about eating. Menhaden or bunker is the best bait but any other cutbait will work too.
Casting spoons is very effective when you locate a school of fish. The fish congregate in various size schools but will never be too far from a school of baitfish. If your boat has a fish finder, watch for a ball of bait and then cast into the bait. If the blues are feeding on the fish, you can expect instant hits. A spoon with a single hook makes life easier when the feeding fray gets going. A standard treble slows you down some when unhooking the fish, but it will work. I love to roll up to a feeding frenzy and sling shiny spoons on an ultralight rod into the mix. The fight is on and the drag will scream. Sometimes you end up with part of a fish by the time you get it in. Blues are cannibalistic and will eat each other at times. Use a stout fluorocarbon leader to avoid being cut off. Retie your lure often, too.
Trolling will also pick up fish. Look for the bait balls and troll Clark or Drone spoons around the edges of the bait. Use planers to get down to the correct depth. Bluefish can be caught in this manner in our lower rivers all the way out to the ocean.
Keeping your fish
The best fish to catch and eat are the smaller ones. In our local waters I love to catch the 10 to 15 inch fish. These fish can be cleaned by cutting the heads off, gutting and then pan frying whole. They are great this way. The skin peels right off and the meat falls off the bone.
Be sure no matter what size fish you catch and keep, you ice it as soon as possible; the colder the fish gets -- and the sooner it gets that way -- the better tasting it is.
When you clean your fish, be sure to cut out the bloodline. The bloodline is strong tasting. This is one thing that gives the blues their strong taste.
Blues don’t freeze well for more than a month or two. Some other species of fish I have frozen for a year and they still eat well.
JT from Hanover shared this great recipe for Bluefish Salad with my father. He made it, and I really enjoyed it. I don’t care for chicken salad or mayo but this was good stuff. Next time you get a bluefish or two give this recipe a try!
Parboil your fish filets or fish in a skillet by covering with water. Once the meat is cooked, drain and remove meat (take out bones too). You can season your fish as you prefer.
Chop up celery, onions and add some dill relish to suit your taste. Add in mayo. Then mix in the fish. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy on toast or simply on a plate.