|The barrilete, as it is known locally, is
a member of the tuna family and is prolific all along the coast.
It is a hydrodynamic marvel and extraordinarily strong for its size.
Barrilete can grow to nearly 3 feet and 15 pounds and are often found in huge schools both inside the bay and at sea. They feed on the surface chasing sardines and other small fish, frequently accompanied by birds feeding on the baitfish driven to the surface.
Barrilete are fun to catch and the ultimate light tackle challenge. Known as false albacore or “little tunny” in the USA, they support a large fly-fishing industry on the east and gulf coasts. When feeding they will smash any small artificial bait or feather placed in their path.
Locally, we use barrilete as bait for marlin or, when cut up, for shark and dorado. We often catch them from very large schools as fast as we can put baits back into the water using rods or hand lines attached to rubber bands to absorb the shock of the strike.
Barrilete, often called “bonito”, should not be confused with true bonito, which are very good to eat. Barrilete are eaten locally, but have dark red blood-filled flesh with a strong taste. However, that characteristic makes them excellent for bait. One of our first objectives in the morning is to catch sufficient barrilete to support our potential fresh bait requirements for the day.