Bonito

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Record Bonito taken by Edith Holder, Santa Catalina Island


Bonito (Sarda chiliensis) [Pacific bonito, bonita], small members of the tuna family commonly caught in Southern California waters, although they range from Chile to the Gulf of Alaska. Considered by fishermen as a less desirably species, they must be bled, gutted and iced immediately to improve their flavor, which can be quite strong. They feed on anchovies, sardines and squid.



In the News~

July 23, 1883 [SBDI]: “A fishing quartet, consisting of Messrs. Crane, Garland, Gilchrist and Diehl spent a number of hours yesterday on the channel trolling. A number of fine large barracuda and bonita were caught.”


August 17, 1884 [SBDP]: “Good fishing. Yesterday some of the members of the Union Club had a fishing test. Messrs. Bates, Winchester, and Eddy sailed in Jack’s boat. Messrs. Broome, Knapp and Culbertson sailed in Larco’s sloop. Each boat fished about four hours. The party in Jack’s boat caught 75 fish. Those in Larco’s boat caught 54 fish. Only barracudas and bonitas were caught, weighing from three to eighteen pounds each. The combined catch weighed over 200 pounds.”


1888 Report of the Commissioner, United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries (GPO: 1892) maps the Santa Barbara Channel as “Trolling grounds for barracuda and bonito.”


October 5, 1896 [SBDN]: “The fishermen enjoyed themselves on Sunday with a school of bonitos. A large number of these fish were caught.”


August 24, 1900 [SBMP]: “The biggest fish stories of the season are related by the Van Denbergh-Hixenbaugh party who have been spending their vacation on Santa Cruz Island... They landed 954 mackerel, 40 halibut, 20 yellowtail, and 3 each sea bass, rock fish and bonito...”


August 5, 1903 [SBMP]: “The fine catches of fish now being made fill the lover of the sport who can't get out to enjoy it, with envy. Small boats come in loaded to the gunnels with sea bass, barracuda, and bonito.”


September 2, 1904 [SBMP]: “Troll fishing for the large fish in the channel continues good... Henry Short took out one party Wednesday morning and another in the afternoon, each catching a number of barracuda, besides yellowtail and bonito.”


September 6, 1904 [SBMP]: “Henry Short was out with a party of fourteen people yesterday and reported a large catch including seven tuna and many bonito and albacore.”


January 2, 1906 [SBMP]: “Mr. & Mrs. H. C. Graf of Tarytown, N. Y., who are stopping at Montecito for the winter, went out fishing on Sunday in the Nina, and made a big catch of yellowtail and bonito.”


January 5, 1906 [SBMP]: “...yesterday afternoon the launch Nina made a good catch of yellowtail and bonito. Dr. Johnson will go out in the Nina this morning...”


January 7, 1906 [SBMP]: “The winter run of bonito in the channel is on, and the amateur fishermen are finding great luck. The Santa Barbara channel has the exclusive claim to bonito in winter, as they do not run further south. Yesterday Colonel W. D. Witman was out with his two sons for an all day trip, and returned in the afternoon with between 45 and 50 yellowtail and bonito, the catch nestling about 500 pounds.”


January 23, 1906 [SBMP]: “Craig Biddie and W. M. Disston and a number of officers from Chicago were fishing in the Nina yesterday morning. They caught over 200 pounds of bonito.”


July 5, 1906 [SBMP]: “George F. Trenwith made a fishing excursion in the channel yesterday on the Nina, Captain Gourley, and had good success of yellowtail, barracuda and bonito.”


October 23, 1906 [SBMP]: “Captain George Gourley and Arthur C. Greenwell on the launch Nina yesterday smashed all fishing records to a thousand pieces. In two hours trolling they brought in 132 barracuda, 28 bonito, and 18 yellowtail. This was on a run between More's Landing and the lighthouse.”


November 22, 1906 [SBMP]: “Captain Gourley made a single-handed record yesterday afternoon while fishing on the Nina. He was the only person aboard, and he tended engine, steered the boat, watched four lines, and in less than two hours landed twenty-one yellowtail and ten bonita.”


October 6, 1908 [SBMP]: “The accompanying illustration gives a fair idea of an average catch of barracuda, bonito and yellowtail taken with rod and reel from the Santa Barbara channel in four hours.”


October 8, 1908 [SBMP]: “Jack McLeod, David E. Jacobs of Ocean Park, and Casey Maher, who were out in the channel yesterday as the guests of Captain George W. Gourley in the launch Vamoose, made a splendid catch bringing in barracuda, yellowtail and bonito. They presented a large number of friends with piscatorial trophies and entertained some friends at a fish luncheon.”


September 1, 1910 [SBMP]: “The San Pedro fishermen are again invading the Santa Barbara channel, and before many days the entire fleet of 20 or 30 boats may be expected here. Captain Short of the Charm and other channel mariners report that the fishing around the islands is improving rapidly, there being large schools of sardines, bonito and albacore.”


September 8, 1910 [SBMP]: “There is a marked improvement in the fishing in the channel. The Vamoose, out recently with a party of railroad men, returned with about 150 pounds of albacore and bonito, and reported the waters off Goleta swarming with sardines. There are now about 15 of the San Pedro fishing launches making their headquarters here. Their favorite fishing grounds are off Carpinteria and Rincon. They leave their anchorage here about sundown and return in the early morning with their catch.”


July 12, 1914 [SBMP]: “Big fish are running at the island now — barracuda, bonita, sea bass and yellowtail — in large schools that area frequently seen on top of the water…”


August 1, 1914 [SBMP]: “Reports from the island bring news of excellent sport with the trolling lines. Yellowtail, cabrillo, bonita and albacore are running in great schools and the fishermen are having revel in the way of hauling finny beauties.”