Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine VOL 40 No 2 SPRING 2016 - Page 14

Toothy Terrors W E S T (Continued from page 7.) philosophy is, if it’s legal and customers want to keep it, we take it to the dock.” Bluefish prefer saltier waters, but do enter inland bays as long as the salinity levels remain high. They often roam off beaches or cruise along the dropoffs, reefs, wrecks or petroleum platforms looking for any baitfish to attack. Big schools of the toothy predators frequently congregate along jetties, docks, fishing piers and other structures where they find good hunting. Bluefish feed heavily upon menhaden, sardines, small jacks, anchovies, mullets, shrimp, squid, and anything else they can catch. When feeding, these gluttonous predators slash through prey, tearing anything apart with their incredibly sharp teeth. Along the upper East Coast, anglers sometimes refer to bluefish attacking baitfish as a “bluefish blitz.” They even attack fish much larger than themselves. Offshore, extremely fast, aggressive blues frequently grab large trolled plugs meant to entice wahoo, tuna, king mackerel or sailfish. “Bluefish have no peer as preying pack hunters in our coastal waters,” Shipp explained. “Armed with powerful, sharp teeth in large, muscular jaws, bluefish roam in schools, sweeping wide swaths through shoals of forage species leaving fins and heads in their wake. Stories of bluefish feeding excesses are legion.” With little pressure along the Gulf Coast, bluefish frequently gather in huge schools. Bluefish wolf packs follow anchovies, sardines and other baitfish. Many people watch for birds diving, particularly terns that prefer to prey upon smaller baitfish than gulls or pelicans. Diving birds or bait erupting on the surface can indicate feeding fish, but some anglers “bird dog” blues. When feeding, fren