Hendo Goes Bendo on Monster Pompano Beach Bonito
By Mike Stevens
Isn’t it funny how catching a specific type of fish at one time gets you fired up, but catching the same fish in another situation becomes a curse-worthy nuisance? Pacific barracuda stand as a great west coast example that should clarify that point. A deep-sea fisherman that gets into early-spring barries would be pumped to catch even short ones after a long, cold season of bottom fishing simply because he is finally catching an aggressive fish on the surface. Take the same guy a few months later when he is targeting yellowtail or calico bass, and he is cursing the same ‘slimers’ even if they are BIGGER ones for picking off his baits and biting hooks off.
Of course, all that flies out the window when you catch a monster fish, regardless of the species.
When Kwanza ‘Kayaking’ Henderson recently paddled out off of Pompano Beach on a windy morning, he had a big king mackerel or his first wahoo or sailfish on his radar. He certainly was not after bonito, and he considered not even heading offshore in the first place.
“When we got there, heading out didn’t seem like a smart idea,” the Johnson Outdoors kayak fishing pro said. “I was worried about thunder and lightning, but I have a few screws loose so we pushed on, and although the wind was screaming like a baby, there was no surf at all.”
Henderson’s fishing partner hooked up first at around 8 a.m. in 150 feet of water, and as line “screamed” off his reel, other members of the group were thinking sailfish, king mack, or wahoo.
“None of us thought it would be a dang bonito,” Henderson said. “That was the last thing I wanted to see.”
It was a bonito indeed, and a nice one. That is when Henderson’s 5-ounce Victory Lure was ripped in 200 feet of water.
“This fish was pulling hard, and my mind was racing as to what it could be. I thought ‘Please not another bonito!’ and as I saw color I thought it was a big tuna.”
It turned out to be a toad of a bonito, and when Henderson looked over the side and saw the school of bonito below his hooked fish, he stuck his camera in the drink and caught some sweet underwater footage.
Opinions vary on the sport and table value of the bonito — which is a member of the tuna family — but one thing that is inarguable is that they are built for drag-burning speed with a muscular, streamlined shape and the signature thrusting tail of all tunas.
“Although I was after something better than a bonito, they’re good for a fight, and this was the biggest bonito I have ever caught,” Henderson added. “It turned out to be a beautiful, sunny and fish-catching day. One of the other guys I was with caught a 20-pound blackfin tuna, and I caught two bonito, a triggerfish and got cut off twice.”