Debate remains to this day about the origins of the name.
Some speculate it came from a name New England fisherman called the flying fish, bonita. Still others claim it is derived from an archaic English term, meaning an "inexpensive yet useful servant."
The size of the fleet has likewise declined. New skipjacks were built as late as 1993, but a change in the law in 1965 allowed the use of motor power two days of the week. As a result, few of the boats are operated under sail in commercial use; instead, a pushboat is used to move the skipjack, and little dredging is done except on the days that power is allowed.
At one time, the number of skipjacks produced is estimated at approximately 2,000; today, they number about 40, with less than half of them in active fishing. The future of the fleet remains in doubt as efforts continue to restore the productivity of the oyster beds.
The skipjack was designated the state boat of Maryland in 1985.