Fast cars, fast food, fast boats, the Fast and the Furious movies… Speed is addictive, in almost everything we do. And sport fishing is no exception. Anglers love the thrill of tackling game fish that peel line off reels like drag racers peel rubber off tires. For many, the chances of hooking into a fish that feels more like an underwater torpedo is the ultimate experience. And for those seeking speed, the Scombridae family of fish are what fishermen are targeting.
Consisting of the mackerels, tunas and bonitos, the Scombridae family is well known to even non sport fishermen, as these favorite food fish are some of the most important to the commercial fishing industry. Most commercial harvesting is done via large seine net operations, and lacks the heart pumping thrills that comes from experiencing one of these speed demons attached to a rod and reel.
Several adaptations allow this family of mostly open ocean predators to reach blistering speeds. Highly streamlined bodies, often torpedo or cigar shaped, and retractable fins combine to help reduce drag as they cruise along ocean currents in search of smaller schooling fish like herring, sardines and squid. And many members of the Scombridae family are unique among fish in that they have evolved to be partially endothermic. This warm-blooded advantage allows them to reach such high speeds and rates of activity.
Two of the fastest species are the Wahoo and Yellowfin Tuna, each of which reach speeds in excess of 50 mph. These awesome speeds not only help them to chase down fast moving prey, but also allow Scombrids to easily outrun most predators. With the exception of Mako sharks, speedsters in their own right, not much in the water can catch them.
Many species, like the Bonito and Tuna, school together far offshore, requiring large, expensive deep ocean vessels for sport anglers wanting to target these fish. Oftentimes your best bet is to hire a chartered guide service when fishing for Tuna and Bonito, as these species go through seasonal migrations and an experienced Captain is indispensable at helping you find them.
Other species, like the Spanish Mackerels, can oftentimes be found much closer to shore. King Mackerel commonly inhabit waters from 40 to 150 feet in depth, but larger specimens are regularly visitors to inshore waters, patrolling the mouths of rivers and inlets. As such, they are highly prized by kayak anglers. Not much can be more thrilling than battling such fast, aggressive fish from such small watercraft.
Fishing is a great pastime, but it can be a slow, patient man’s hobby filled with lazy afternoons casting and reeling. If this sounds like you, and you’re looking to speed things up, then maybe you should get out on the ocean and get after some Scombrids. They are fast, furious fishing fun!