Bluefish are a popular target species across the coast of the US.
However, they are extremely aggressive and many anglers worry about handling them safely and using the right tackle to land them.
Let’s look more into bluefish bites, whether they are a dangerous fish to handle, and tackle tips to secure your bluefish catch.
Bluefish can cause severe bites from their rows of serrated razor-sharp teeth. Bluefish are particularly aggressive in nature and have been known to bite through fishing lines and also bite unsuspecting swimmers. Use a strong leader line, handle with care, and wear thick gloves if inexperienced with handling bluefish.
A Bluefish Bite – do Bluefish Have Teeth?
Not only do bluefish have teeth, but their teeth are well-suited to causing damage.
Bluefish have a lower jaw that juts out prominently, and both their upper and lower jaws host a single row of uniform, sharp teeth.
These appear as large conical canine teeth, and they have an edge as sharp as a knife.
They are also extremely strong, so there is little chance of the fish losing a tooth when on the hook fighting.
Bluefish are fast, predatory fish so need a strong set of teeth to catch, hold onto and devour their prey.
This is good news for anglers because bluefish are great fish to target and are willing to smash many types of bait or lure that you feed to them.
Do Bluefish Have Sharp Teeth?
While bluefish are not as well known as fish such as piranhas for their sharp teeth, the knife-like edge is more than sufficient for tearing through baitfish and even biting right through a fishing line.
Earning them the nickname, the “piranha of the sea” among many seasoned anglers.
Bluefish have earned nicknames like “choppers” and “snappers” because of these teeth.
Their teeth have no problem handling the forage fish they usually pursue, including:
This dentition separates bluefish from their extinct relatives in the family Pomatomidae. Fish like the Lophar miocaenus were almost identical to the bluefish, but they had thick and conical teeth.
Is a Bluefish Bite Dangerous?
Bluefish bites can be dangerous, and there are two main risks you need to be careful of: the bite itself and infection.
Bluefish bite injury
A bluefish bite from a medium to larger-sized bluefish is dangerous enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.
Even small brushes with their jaws can lead to stitches, lost flesh, and plenty of lost blood. There are even supposed cases where a bluefish bite resulted in lost fingers.
The issue evolves the larger the fish gets. Bluefish around the 15lb mark would have larger teeth that can sink down deeper and cause more damage.
They also have more weight to throw around when thrashing, tearing up whatever they have a hold of to a greater degree.
Bluefish bite infection
This isn’t to say that bluefish under 15 pounds are completely safe to handle.
Any bite is open to secondary issues such as infection, and a small bluefish bite can cause much more damage this way. It only takes an unfortunate bite placement to put your life in danger.
Are Bluefish aggressive?
While anglers usually know about the dangers of a bluefish bite, these fish pose a threat to people trying to enjoy the water as well.
There are a few cases of bluefish attacking those wading through bluefish schools, including a 7 year old girl in Alicante, Spain who was allegedly attacked at the beach by a bluefish.
Bluefish are both strong and aggressive, which is a dangerous combination for anyone involved.
They feed in frenzies that decimate the schools of forage fish they pursue, and are even known for eating their own young.
These bluefish blitzes are strong enough to churn the water while feeding, and this same aggression makes them extremely dangerous to handle.
Anyone looking to go out in waters where bluefish are known to be should understand how they behave and the dangers of these behaviors.
Even if you aren’t fishing for bluefish, learning what to look out for can save your fingers and more.
Avoiding a Bluefish Bite – six tips for safe handling
The riskiest time to get bitten or injured by a bluefish is when you are trying to land it, either on land or in a boat.
Bluefish tend to thrash about wildly when they get anywhere near your or when handled.
If they have lures or hooks in their mouth at the time, it’s not just their teeth you need to worry about but flying hooks, too.
Let’s have a look at six top tips from experienced bluefish anglers about how to stay safe when handling bluefish.
1. Let the bluefish tire itself out
Bluefish are extremely fast, aggressive swimming fish. They have incredible amounts of energy and take a lot to become tired.
It’s a bad idea to take a bluefish straight out of the water just after it’s been hooked up.
It will likely thrash around and either catch your hand with its sharp teeth or fling whatever hooks or lure it has in its mouth at you.
It’s advised to try to wear the bluefish out before landing it, to try to avoid the thrashing behaviour as it comes out.
Another tip here is to raise the fish out of the water and suspend the fish for a little time to see if it will stop thrashing, once it does you might be a little safer to handle it.
2. Grabbing the bluefish – by the tail
If you can position yourself in the right way and get a good hand grip on the fish, then grabbing a bluefish by its tail means your hand is furthest away from its mouth when you pick it up.
If it continues to thrash in your hand, you might be safer dropping it back into the water with the lure or hook still in its mouth.
Once you’re confident with your grip on its tail, some anglers advise you to grab the fish by the gill plate.
3. Grabbing the bluefish – behind the neck
Another way to handle a bluefish while making sure your hands are out of the way of its mouth and razor-sharp teeth is to have a strong grip on its neck, just behind its head.
Some anglers have stated that this puts the fish in a relaxed state, almost similar to what happens with sharks when they enter tonic immobility.
4. Grabbing the bluefish – using a Lip grip
Probably the safest, most reliable way to handle a blue fish is using a lip grip tool.
These tools keep your hands at a distance from the bluefish’s mouth but also provide a strong grip to handle the fish.
You should just make sure that you support the fish’s body, too because placing all its bodyweight on just its jaw can do it damage, such as breaking its jaw.
Fish lip gripping tools like the Boga Grip are a solid option for many situations, whether on a boat, kayak or fishing from the shore.
5. Gloves and pliers
If you can’t get hold of a fish gripper, then your next best bet is some sturdy protective fishing gloves and long-nosed fishing pliers.
The gloves will help you hold onto the fish and put some material between your skin and those razor bluefish teeth.
Needle-nosed pliers help to unhook deep or tricky to remove lures and hooks after the bluefish has smashed it.
6. Avoid treble hooks if there are big bluefish around
The final tip here we’re sharing is if you are fishing for larger bluefish, then you might want to avoid lures with treble hooks.
A large bluefish is extremely powerful, and if you’re trying to land a monster that is thrashing around and threatening to spit out a large treble-hooked lure, you might end up with some battle scars.
Bluefish bites – are they dangerous? Summary
If you’re thinking about targeting bluefish but haven’t handled them before, it might be worth considering how to protect yourself from a bluefish bite. Typically, gloves and a fish gripper or pair of needle-nosed pliers should be enough gear to keep you unscathed.
Don’t forget to tire your bluefish out a little too!