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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Little Tunny

Marine Fisheries

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Little tunny

Little Tunny

Euthynnus alletteratus

AKA: false albacore, albacore, little tuna, bonito, Fat Alberts

Description: Little tunny is a tuna-shaped fish that is steel blue on top and silver below with wavy stripes along the posterior portion of the back. Several dark spots are scattered below the pectoral fin and small finlets behind the second dorsal and anal fins.

Size: Little tunny grow to 20 pounds. No citation is given for landing a little tunny, but an award
is given for the live release of a fish measuring 34 inches or longer.

Sometimes confused with: Atlantic bonito

Habitat: Little tunny school by size and migrate north through coastal waters in the spring and south in the fall and winter.

Eating habits: When a large school is actively feeding they are noisy, splashing and foaming the water. They feed on fishes such as herrings, sardines and scads but will also readily eat squid and crustaceans. Other tunas, dolphin, wahoo, Atlantic sailfish, swordfish and various sharks prey on the little tunny.

Life cycle: Little tunny are fast-growing and short-lived fish that seldom live longer than five years. Females reach sexual maturity at 14 inches and spawn offshore in waters deeper than 100 feet.

Fishing tips: Anglers catch little tunny by trolling, casting or float fishing with lures or live bait such as bluefish, pinfish or spot. When trolling, fishermen usually use small lures with mullet or ballyhoo or colored feathers to locate the fish. Once they find a school anglers cast metal spoons or silver jigs retrieved in a fast, jerky movement. Flyfishing is also a popular way to catch little tunny.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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