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False Albacore

Euthynnus alletteratus

The tunny's coloration is metallic overall, being steel-bluish above and silver below. Wavy stripes along the posterior portion of the back, several scattered dark spots below the pectoral fin, and small finlets behind the second dorsal and anal fins are identifying characteristics. Even with these features, the little tunny is one of the fish most frequently misidentified by marine recreational fishermen.

The presence of flocks of diving birds over coastal waters often indicates schools of little tunny feeding nearby. Fishermen in charter boats and smaller outboards respond to seasonal visitations by trolling baits, casting lures and drift fishing with live bait such as bluefish, pinfish or spot. For trolling, fishermen usually select small lures with mullet or ballyhoo, or use colored feathers that are lures until fish are located. They will stop to cast in the school with light spinning tackle and 6- to 10-pound test monofilament line. In these situations, Hopkins lures or jigs are presented with a fast, jerky retrieval. Some anglers have taken to fly fishing for these fish as well.

The fish should be bled and iced immediately after it is caught. One way to prepare little tunny is to make tuna salad. Fillets are baked, chilled, flaked, and mixed with salad dressing, hard-boiled eggs, celery, sweet pickle cubes, and salt and pepper. These ingredients should be added to taste and to provide the desired consistency. Serve over lettuce with tomato slices. To reduce the naturally fishy flavor, remove the dark strip of meat that extends the length of each fillet.