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You say Bluefish, I say Bunker

By Kastking | 22 January 2018 | 0 Comments

What’s the difference between a bluefish and a bunker? A lot. 


Years ago, I had a friend; we’ll call him Walter, we played on a softball team together. He lived in Howard Beach, NY, close by to the shores of Jamaica Bay.  This very urban bay is a great location for saltwater fishing because it abounds with healthy populations of both striped bass and bluefish.  A key reason why so many bass and blues reside inside Jamaica Bay is because the Bay also hosts a huge population of bunker, aka menhaden, (Pogy in New England) which is an oily, boney fish that is normally harvested for fish oil, or ground into fish meal, but is unfit for human consumption. Menhaden are filter feeders that feed on plankton in tight, dense schools that ball up as a defense mechanism from predators.  However, one can’t get them to bite a baited hook or cast lure, and the only ways to catch them is to snag them with a fast retrieve with a weighted treble hook or with a net.  They are excellent baitfish for striped bass and blues.


typical bluefish

A typical bluefish


Walter was in the banking business and was not much of a fisherman.  However, being that he lived so close to the Cross Bay Bridge, a locale that many area anglers love to fish from, and he’d stroll the bridge from time to time for a little exercise.  I guess after seeing all the fish being caught during one of these walks Walter got bitten by the angling bug this resulted in him deciding to give fishing a try from the top side of the bridge.  I knew nothing of Walter’s intentions, but he knew that I was pretty into fishing at the time, so one day he came up to me while the softball team was taking batting practice, and struck up a conservation.


“Hey Tom, you know I went fishing off the Cross Bay Bridge the other day, and it was a lot of fun.”


“Oh yeah, what’d ya catch?”


Menhaden are quite a bit different than bluefish

Menhaden, a.k.a bunker are quite a bit different than bluefish


“Oh man it was pretty cool.  It took a while but eventually there was this huge dense school of bluefish well within casting range.  Man, there were so many bluefish splashing, and flipping on the surface it was crazy, but the funny thing is I could not get the blues to bite any of my baits or lures.  It took a while, but I found if I casted out and retrieved my diamond jig lure with a treble hook and reeled real fast, I was able to catch a few blues by snagging them in the body.”


“Wow, that must have been a lot of fun, but when bluefish are blitzing on the surface like that the “choppers” are usually pretty easy to catch.  Walter…did these fish have any teeth? That’s why we call them choppers because of their impressive dentures that can do real damage to your fingers.”


reason bluefish are called choppers

The reason bluefish are called choppers



“Oh no…these bluefish had no teeth.”


“That’s odd.  By the way, what did you do with those bluefish?”


“Oh I ate a couple, they were a little boney…and oily, a pain in the butt to clean, but other than that they tasted okay.”


I did not have the heart to continue this conversation, so I simply said, “Cool…I’m gonna go hit now.”


So, I stand corrected from the first paragraph above.  Bunker are and oily and boney fish, but I guess they are fit for human consumption by some people, like a banker that has no idea the difference between a bluefish and a bunker.


By — Capt. Tom Mikoleski



Captain Tom Mikoleski is the successful fishing charter captain of the Grand Slam who sails out of Montauk, NY for trophy striped bass, doormat fluke, jumbo porgies, humpback sea bass, and monster sharks. Captain Tom is the author of Bass Buff — A Striper Fishing Obsession Guide




Eposeidon (www.eposeidon.com ) is an e-commerce company (Eposeidon Outdoor Adventure, Inc.) that brings a fresh, innovative approach to anglers by offering quality fishing tackle products at the best prices and no cost, or low cost shipping. Eposeidon’s goal is to exceed expectations through outstanding customer service and superior product value to their customers. Eposeidon is continually expanding its product lines, which include KastKing™ fishing line, fishing reels, and fishing rods, MadBite fishing lures, Ecooda reels, and other fishing tackle products, to meet individual fishing equipment needs. Eposeidon is headquartered in Garden City, NY, USA and sells fishing tackle products globally. Eposeidon is the sole North American Distributor for Ecooda fishing reels.

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