Bluefish are great to eat and taste delicious. The meat of bluefish is moist, rich-flavored with edible skin. Bluefish get rotten fast because of the high amount of fats in their bodies.
The bluefish is the only surviving species of the Pomatomidae family. Earlier gnome fishes were also included in the family Pomatomidae.
However, now they are classified under a separate fish family, Scombridae. Scientifically called Pomatomus saltatrix, bluefish is a saltwater pelagic fish found in the subtropical and temperate oceans across the globe except for the northern Pacific waters.
Bluefish is known by different names in different countries like shad and elf in South Africa, a tailor in New Zealand, and Australia.
Are Bluefish Good to Eat?
Yes, bluefish are delicious. The flesh of a raw bluefish has a light putty color, sometimes even bluish-grey with a tinge of brown. The color becomes lighter when it’s cooked.
The flavor can be described as rich, oily, and sometimes even “gamey.” Bluefish can be prepared in various ways, including grilling, baking, broiling, smoking, or pan-frying.
What is the Best Size bluefish to Eat?
You can consume bluefish in various ways. The bigger the size of the bluefish, the better the taste. Also, the bigger the fish, the easier it is to remove the small bones.
Bluefish of a smaller size, known as snapper blues, are usually fried as they are not too moist and oily.
Where they are found in abundance, they are available at cheaper rates.
Bluefish: Nutritional Value
124 calories in 100 grams of bluefish make it a healthy dietary choice.
Remember that besides being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, bluefish also have high levels of PCBs and mercury. For this reason, children and pregnant women are prohibited from consuming them.
Is Bluefish Healthy?
Rich in vitamin D and fatty acids, some studies show that bluefish checks the growth and spread of cancerous cells.
People can have a bluefish every week, roughly. To get the maximum health benefits, bake or grill it without using too much oil because oil deprives the dish of the vitamins present.
Below are some of the general benefits of consuming bluefish.
- They are rich in vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids
- They are rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus and selenium
- They have high iodine content
- Fights against degenerative diseases
- Proper blood circulation
- Bluefish fosters the regrowth of DNA
As is evident, the benefits of consuming bluefish are innumerable. Incorporate them into your daily diet to remain healthy and fit. Regular limited consumption of bluefish can result in strong bones, reduce inflammation, and stimulate metabolism.
Because of its high protein content, it fastens body growth and development and helps control blood pressure. Also, it leads to improved sleep quality.
However, you must consult your dietician before consuming any variety of bluefish because they have high mercury content, which is harmful if consumed at high levels.
What Is the Best Way to Cook Bluefish?
You must cook bluefish as soon as you purchase it. Because of their reactive enzymes, bluefish deteriorate rapidly unless you refrigerate them immediately. Also, you need to freeze it deep to ensure it freezes well.
If you cannot cook it immediately, I advise you to cook it within a day of buying it. The best way to cook bluefish is to season it with acidic ingredients like lemon juice, lime, tomato, etc.
However, if you want to keep the dish simple, brush the fillet with mayonnaise or mustard and broil it. You can even roast, grill, or bake it according to your preferences. Larger bluefish can be baked entirely. Smaller ones can only be fried.
Here are a few tried and tested bluefish recipes you should try:
- Easy oven-baked bluefish recipe
- Broiled bluefish fillets with lime aioli recipe
- Broiled bluefish with a lemon-garlic mayonnaise
What to Look for When Choosing Fresh Bluefish Fillet
While looking for a bluefish, keep the following things in mind:
- Choose a fillet having a pale putty shade to bluish-grey color with a touch of brown
- If the fillet appears dried, don’t buy it
- Also, check if the bluefish has a light sea breeze aroma; that scent indicates that it’s fresh
- The fish should have shiny eyes and should appear bright and clean
- Scales should be clinging to the skin tightly. Check if they are easily removable. If yes, don’t buy it
- Make sure the fillets and steaks are wet with shiny and firm meat
- Press the meat. If it springs back, it’s fresh
What Does a Bluefish Look Like?
The bluefish is a roughly proportioned fish having a forked, broad tail. The upper or dorsal fin is prickly and thorny and creased back in a hollow cut like its inner fins. Bluefish is mainly greyish-blue in color, having a green dorsal appearance. The color fades to white towards the lower parts and the belly region.
The teeth rows and size in both jaws are uniform, sharp, and knife-edged. They usually range from seven inches to more and exceptionally weigh about 18kg or 18 pounds.
Bluefish Habitat and Distribution
Bluefish can be found extensively in equatorial and continental water bodies. More specifically, bluefish are found in deep-sea waters of the continental shelves of Africa, Southeast Asia, east America, the Mediterranean, and black sea and Australia, excluding the water region between northern South America and South Florida.
You can spot bluefish in deep-sea waters, above continental shelves, by rock headlands, and sometimes in the dynamic waters near beaches. Apart from living in various coastal habitats, they enter estuaries and settle in saline waters. During migratory seasons, they withdraw from the seashores and drift in large numbers through flowing waters.
Especially in summer, they migrate in schools from warm waters to subtropical water bodies. In summer, you can find bluefish in concentrations from Maine to Cape Hatteras and North Carolina. During winters, they travel offshore and inhabit the south waters between Florida and Cape Hatteras. When April approaches, they disappear from there and head north. By June, one can find them off the Massachusetts coast. Again, when winter arrives, they leave the cool water bodies of the US coast and head towards the warm southern waters.
Bluefish Reproduction and Lifespan
Every female bluefish lays between 400,000 to 2 million eggs. The eggs take two years to mature. Females give birth in open sea waters. There, the larvae grow and mature into juveniles. After completing this stage in the development process, females migrate in schools, enter estuaries, and settle in seashores.
Generally, their lifespan is of 14 years. They are insatiable feeders and feed on zooplankton and phytoplankton found below or near water surfaces. Also, they attack menhaden, squid, and other tiny forage fishes to kill their appetite.
To learn more about bluefish, information is available on the NOAA Fisheries website.
Bluefish Feeding Habits
They prey on various forage fish depending on the region and season. Sometimes they prey on weakfish, sardine-like fish and jacks, striped anchovies, squid, shrimps, or grunts. They have a huge appetite and often destroy their young ones to satiate their hunger.
They are strictly cannibalistic. They run after their baits through surface waters, stirring the water like a washing machine. This tendency of them is known as a bluefish blitz. Alluding to the stages of a lifecycle, they are preyed upon by larger fishes. The young ones fall prey to a wide range of oceanic beings like larger bluefish, striped bass, weakfish, sharks, dolphins, fluke, tuna, and rays. Adult ones are eaten by sharks, billfish, tuna, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins, seals, and various other oceanic species.
Often, bluefish being inherently aggressive, have attacked fishermen. It’s advisable not to get close to a feeding school of bluefish. They are at their most brutal forms and can bite or attack anyone who is nearby.
Bluefish Fishing Tips
Bluefish swim in large schools, chasing the schools of the baits. Bluefish have different schools based on their age. Every bluefish belonging to the same group has the same size. You can catch bluefish by placing artificial lures or by trolling. Cut baits are especially effective. Because they have pointed, sharp teeth, using wire leaders is a useful preventive measure often used by anglers.
Bluefish can strike and attack anything, including humans. So taking every prevention is important while you catch them. Several fishing methods are adopted to catch bluefish, like casting, chumming, jigging, trolling, or casting artificial baits from piers, shores, or boats.
The best live baits for bluefish are shrimp, squid, mullet, menhaden, ladyfish, bunker, and eels. Natural live baits are best, but if they aren’t available, you can also use artificial lures, feathers, or plugs. Using a noisy lure would be more effective when fishing at dusk or dawn.
You can use a fish finder or fireball rig for fishing bluefish. If you are looking forward to keeping some of your catch on display, refrigerate them immediately and then keep them on display.
Fishing for Juvenile Blues (Blue Snappers)
Fishing for snappers that are young blues is a thrilling experience. They can be spotted in water areas towards the beginning of June. They become about 6 inches, growing rapidly by the end of August when they are mostly targeted. Feeding upon local silversides, these young juveniles become 10 inches when they start to migrate towards the south in late September.
Catching these young ones isn’t tough at all. You just need to spot them and place a bait. Mostly, they are found around marinas and docks and in tidal marshes and creeks.
Often anglers can’t differentiate and are found catching weakfish when baiting for snappers. Both are similar, but weakfishes grow to a restricted size, blues don’t. Therefore it’s important to be able to distinguish between the two. The primary difference is their tails, blues have thorny tails, while weakfish have arrow-headed, silvery-colored tails.
Bluefish have a silvery belly and sides and a bluish-green back. They have prominent, sharp jaws, compressed, uniform teeth, and broad, thorny upper fins. Since adult bluefish prey on smaller forage fish, they have a more pronounced taste than young ones. They are fierce fighters, which is why fishermen call them “choppers.”
The major areas where bluefish are found include New Jersey, Long Island, North Carolina, and the Chesapeake Bay region. Syncing with the seasons, they migrate towards the eastern coast from Maine to Florida and follow the same path while returning when the season favors.
Newborn bluefish weigh about 1 to 2 pounds, whereas the larger ones occasionally weigh up to 30 pounds. The ones that are available in the market weigh about 3 to 5 pounds.
Younger bluefish feed on crustaceans and have a mild fishy taste and sweet flesh. Fillets have a coarse but moist and rich texture.
Hassle-free to prepare, delicious when served, and always rich flavored, bluefish are highly nutritious.