Author: Bullbuster Team
Yellowfin Tuna, A Spectacular Species
As the owner of the premiere fishing company for more than twenty years here in marina Vallarta it seems come summer time, everyone walking in my door wants to hook into a Yellowfin Tuna, I don´t blame them.
Most people will tell me how they have always wanted the chance to challenge a Monster Yellowfin Tuna on their ¨Bucket List¨. But other than that, what do you personally know about Yellowfin Tuna? For most of you out there you`re going to say “not much” other than the fact they taste great! Well amigos, we´re going to change that, at least a little, right now!
Yellowfin Tuna Range
Yellowfin tuna are pretty much everywhere in the world except the Mediterranean Seas and will migrate between latitudes of approximately 40°N to 35°S, is a highly migratory species but in the Pacific Ocean there is very little evidence of east / west or north / south long range migrations. This means there is little opportunity to intermix species forming sub species. To me this means they follow the bait and water temperatures wit h no specific migration patterns.
Yellowfin Tuna have gone by many English language “common” names which include: Yellowfin Tuna, Yellow fin tuna, Allison tuna, Long Fin Tunny, Longfin, Pacific Long-Tailed Tuna, and Tuna. Other common names include, Ahi (Hawaiian), Albacore (Portuguese), Rabil (Spanish), and the list goes on…
Where To Find Yellowfin Tuna
Yellowfin Tuna prefer it between 65 to 88°F (18-31°C). I know we have seen YF Tuna sound to 150 feet or deeper to adjust body temperatures to surrounding water temperate as the surface water temps were over 90°F which of course is uncomfortable for them. But Yellowfin will stay in an area if there is plenty of bait and clean water. But when Areas like Puerto Vallarta have warm water temperatures YF Tuna will migrate north in to the Cabo San Lucas. Where historically water temperatures are slightly cooler than PV. So like we saw in El Nino a few years back, Tuna sounded (went deep) or moved north to cooler water as an example of this. Normally YF Tuna will go as deep as 330 feet if they have a reason to do so. Yellowfin tuna's circulatory system acts to retain metabolic heat. This warms their bodies above ambient temperature and allows them to process food and transport oxygen more efficiently. Their ability to stay warm does not match the near warm-blooded Bluefin tuna, and as a result, their migration range is more limited by water temperature as I just mentioned. Their sensitivity to cooler temperatures also limits vertical movements to the relatively thin layer between the thermocline and surface.
Yellowfin Tuna are more likely to ¨School¨ with other species of the same size than their own. Here in the Eastern Pacific off Puerto Vallarta you will find them running with several Dolphin species including Spinner Dolphin. When we see this we know we`ll be catching Football sized Yellowfin at the smallest. Spinners are always our friend here in PV! This example of YF Tuna ¨schooling¨ with other species is not seen anywhere except in this area. The rest of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans do not see this which makes this behavior unique.
It also seems that Yellowfin Tuna tend to school only on the surface, the deeper they are the less likely they are to ¨school¨ and will fragment or scatter.
Distinctive Features Of Yellowfin Tuna
The Yellowfin is a large tuna. Its body is deepest under its first dorsal fin, while tapering considerably towards the caudal peduncle. Two dorsal fins are present. In adults, the second dorsal fin is very long, as is the anal fin, which is directly below the second dorsal. These fins become relatively longer in larger individuals. The pectoral fin is also long, reaching beyond the space between the dorsal fins. The caudal peduncle is very slender and includes three sets of keels. With seven to ten dorsal and ventral finlets are present. A swim bladder is present. The eyes are small; teeth are small and conical./p>
The body is metallic dark blue or greenish above, while the belly and lower sides are silvery white and crossed by many vertical, interrupted lines. Perhaps most distinctly, a golden stripe runs along the side. The second dorsal and anal fins and finlets are bright yellow, and the finlets are bordered by a narrow band of black.
Size, Age, and Growth
The maximum length reported for Yellowfin is 110 inches ( 9ft or280 cm) total length and the maximum weight is 880 lbs. (400 kg). The all-tackle record recognized by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) is 388 lbs. 8 oz. (176.4 kg). This latter example is more indicative of the common maximum size for the species. But that doesn´t mean there are not larger YF Tuna out there. We have had Yellowfin Tuna larger than 400 lbs boated with our certified scale in Cabo waiting for calibration so nothing official for us. And he 388lb record is suspect since this information is from a few years back.
Food / Feeding Habits Of Yellowfin Tuna
Primary prey include fish, cephalopods (ceph·a·lo·pod [sef-uh-luh-pod], noun, 1. any mollusk of the class Cephalopoda, having tentacles attached to the head, including the cuttlefish, squid, and octopus.), and crustaceans (crus·ta·cean [kruh-stey-shuhn] noun, 1. Any chiefly aquatic arthropod of the class Crustacea, typically having the body covered with a hard shell or crust, including the lobsters, shrimps, crabs, barnacles, and wood lice.). A study by Watanabe (1958) found 37 families of fish and 8 orders of invertebrates in Yellowfin stomachs. Fish species consumed by the Yellowfin tuna include Dolphin aka Mahi Mahi or Dorado in Mexico, pilchard, anchovy, flying fish, mackerel, lancet fish, and other tunas. Other prey are cuttlefish, squid, octopus, shrimp, lobster, and crabs. Yellowfin are sight-oriented predators, as their feeding tends to occur in surface waters during daylight.
Reproduction OF Yellowfin Tuna
Reproduction occurs year-round, but is most frequent during the summer months in each hemisphere. It is believed that 79°F (26°C) is the lower temperature limit for spawning. In the tropical waters of Mexico and Central America, it has been determined that Yellowfin spawn at least twice a year. Each female spawns several million eggs per year. The juveniles grow quickly, weighing approximately 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg) at 18 months and 140 pounds (63.5 kg) at 4 years.
Yellowfin tuna can host up to 40 parasites including protozoans, digenea (flukes), didymozoidea (tissue flukes), monogenea (gillworms), cestoda (tapeworms), nematoda (roundworms), acanthocephala (spiny-headed worms), and copepods.
Well there are, the basics when it comes to Yellowfin Tuna and how it relates to us as fisherman. Useful information if you are an angler looking for the challenge of boating a Monster Yellowfin Tuna or if you are a lure manufacturer looking to understand what the species prefers when it comes to feeding habits.
Hopefully you know a little more now about Yellowfin Tuna and their habits than you did a few minutes ago
How to- Yellowfin Tuna Fishing the Bahamas
South Florida is not only home to some of the best local offshore fishing around the country, but its also close enough to the Bahamas chain of islands for anglers to venture on over. I recently took my first Bahamas trip to target Yellowfin Tuna in Port Lucaya of Grand Bahama island this past spring. There is a large channel that separates the islands and it becomes an area full of life, from Giant dolphin to the highly praised yellowfin tuna.
"We would pull line off of the reel at the speed of the current"
I will be talking about the approach My buddies and I took to target these large sickle fin beasts. There is no wrong or right way to target the, but chunking in the islands is the preferred way to catch these tuna. We used a radar to mark birds, more notably the smaller seagull looking ones that frigates as these generally held more tuna under them. Once we found a flock of birds we approached slowly and waited to mark tuna on our fish finder and looked for topwater visual cues of their presence as well. If we found a flock that looked lifeless we would move on.
Once we found a flock that looked promising we began to toss out sardine chunks from whole sardines cut into thirds. These chunks would flow back into the current and create a chum slick that in theory should raise the tuna form the depth and have them feeding at your boat! sounds simple right? Well wind, current and other factors are taken into play when considering where to setup your drift and begin chunking! Keep this in mind to ensure success. Once we started chunking we would send out an array of baits, from live pilchards, blue runners and whole dead sardines as well.
Our terminal tackle consisted of 3/0-5/0 2x strong hooks, 60-80lb Bullbuster fluorocarbon leader and stout 30 and 50 stand up style and bent butt rods. We would pull line off the reel at the speed of the current and chunks that were moving with it to make it look natural and trick the tuna into thinking it was another free chunk! When you feel like your line is getting tight, let the tuna slowly run with it and out the reel in gear and crank down on them! Its nice with the circle hooks, as you can place a lot of heat on the fish without risk of pulling hook and to avoid getting sharked as well.
This method produced for us and it landed me my first and biggest yellowfin tuna to date at 60lbs! A lot of people troll surface baits for the yellowfin tuna there as well, but the bigger fish are generally caught chunking style. We have caught the tunas at all times of the day and sometimes even better in the heat fo the day! The optimal times to fish for them are in the late afternoon when they are most active though. The mornings tend to be a little bit slower as birds advent had time to locate the tuna yet.
Goodluck out there!
Yellowfin Tuna Grab & Go Tackle Bag
If you have read other articles on the Bullbuster Community you may have seen us mention the term "Grab & Go Bag” a few times. A grab an go bag is a fishing bag with your tackle for a specific type of fish. You do not invade the grab and go bag to fish for other species, but simply have it ready to go for your specific species and make sure your other grab and go bags are ready as well.
4 Main Styles Of Fishing For Yellowfin
Yellowfins are caught mainly in through 1 of 4 methods of fishing. If you are targeting yellowfin you should try to be ready for all of the situations. Bring a big bag or box with all of this included. If you are a serious tuna fisherman you may want to have a box separated for each situation.
Situation 1: Chunking
- 2 - knives for cutting chunks
- 10 - pre-made rigs with 20 feet of 50 Lb fluorocarbon & heavy gage 4/0 circle hooks
- 10 - pre-made rigs 20 feet of 80 Lb Fluorocarbon & heavy gage 6/0 circle hooks
- 25 - heavy gage 4/0 circle hooks
- 25 - heavy 6/0 circle hooks
Situation 2: Trolling
Use these lures to troll around a school of yellowfins that you can find on bird and or with spinner dolphins.
Below are a few lures that may work, there are obviously many more. See old time big game fishing legend Norman Isaacs article on Mr. Wonderful Trolling Lure.
3- Rapala X-Rap Trolling Plugs
4 - Small Marlin Trolling Lures
4 - Flying Fish Rigged To Be Trolled From The Kite
4 - Cedar Plugs
Situation 3: Pitching Live Baits
If a school of yellowfin tuna is on the move, you may need to use the run and gun method of pitching live baits in front of the school. In this case you are going to want to have a shorter leader so that you can pitch your bait directly from your conventional on the run. (It also helps using hollow core braid)
20 - 6 foot 50 Lb fluorocarbon leaders with heavy gauge 6/0 hook
20 - 6 foot 80 Lb fluorocarbon leaders with heavy gauge 8/0 hooks.
4 - Rigging Needles
1 - Roll Of Wax Thread
Situation 4: Jig/Pop Fishing
Your favorite poppers, lures, stickballs, and vertical jigs in a bag ready to go!
Other Articles About Yellowfin Tuna
Find Out The Best Yellowfin Tuna Destinations - This article cover the top 10 yellowfin tuna fishing destinations in the world.
What Fishing Line Do You Need To Catch Yellowfin Tuna - Find out what you need to spool your reels with to catch big yellowfin tuna.
Do I Need Fluorocarbon To Catch Yellowfin Tuna? - Find out if you need Fluorocarbon to catch yellowfin tuna.
How To Cook Yellowfin Tuna - Get a ton of video recipes for yellowfin tuna in one place.
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Fluorocarbon For Yellowfin Tuna
Over the years many people have asked us whether they need fluorocarbon to catch Yellowfin Tuna. The short answer is no, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t help!
Advantages Of Fluorocarbon For Yellowfin Tuna Fishing
Many anglers don’t use fluorocarbon and catch Yellowfin Tuna, but there are many advantages that of fluorocarbon that these Yellowfin Tuna fishermen may be missing out on.
- Abrasion Resistance- Fluorocarbon is a lot harder then monofilament because the plastic it is made from is A LOT harder than regular monofilament. More abrasion resistance your line will last longer against the Yellowfin Tuna teeth.
- Visibility - Fluorocarbon is a lot more dense then monofilament which lets light pass through it more easily. This means that it is virtually invisible underwater. If the Yellowfin Tuna bite has been slow and the water is clear, try switching to fluorocarbon.
Check Out Other Yellowfin Tuna Fishing Resources:
Top 10 Yellowfin Tuna Destinations - Looking to plan your next vacation around tuna fishing? Check this article out.
Venice Yellowfin Tuna Fishing - Check out #BullbusterAmbassador Cpt. Jeff Sneider's Tuna Town report.
Best Places To Catch Yellowfin Tuna
Yellowfin tuna are sought after world wide not only for their tenacious fighting ability but for their prized meat (get ready for a sashimi party) . They are voracious eaters when a school of them is fired up, but can also be finicky when they want to be (this is when fluorocarbon is a must) or when your boat runs up on the school too fast. Yellowfin can be found on offshore structure suchs oil rigs and rock formations, as well as in open water near upwellings, often surrounded by a zoo of diving birds and spinner dolphin. They can be targeted by trolling, chunking, kite fishing, jigging and popping just to mention a few techniques. This article covers the top 10 places in the world to catch yellowfin tuna.
1) Tuna Fishing In Venice, LA
There is a reason they call it Tuna town! With tons of oil rigs to choose from and a whole fishing village marina with a culture that literally revolves around tuna fishing, this is a destination you need to make it to! Not to mention you will get to experience some Cajun food like a good muffaletta sandwich or anything with some Louisiana spice!
One of the cool things about staying in Venice, is the fact that you can literally walk out of your "hotel" which is usually a floating house and step right onto your charter. If you a more experienced fisherman, you may want to trailer your boat down there and rent one of the houses. Below is a video that shows you just how awesome Venice is.
One thing many people don't know is that Venice marina is actually situated just inside the Mississippi river. So your daily commute to fishing will look something like this:
Below #BullbusterAmbassador Cpt. Jeff Schneider puts the gaff in a venice cow yellowfin.
Yellowfin in Venice are usually caught either chunking, live baiting, or on poppers on jigs. Fluorocarbon is your weapon of choice in tuna town.
If the tuna fishing is slow offshore, there are always a few different options for on your way in. The bottom fishing offshore Venice is excellent.
2) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta is literally cow central, claiming the title to many world record yellowfin tunas. As a matter of fact Puerto Vallarta has actually broken its own record a number of times. It was almost broken again in 2012 but was not broken due to a technicality.
Puerto Vallarta tuna fishing is all about small beefed up reels filled with 130Lb hollow core braid and a few feet of fluorocarbon (so you don't need a swivel or a knot) to get your A** kicked by a big cow tuna!
Check out this sick tuna fishing video out of Puerto Vallarta posted on Youtube by "Peter Kim" fishing aboard the Journeyman.
There are many ways to fish out of Puerto Vallarta these include:
Long Range Boats Out Of California
Puerto Vallarta tuna fishing is so good, that most of the long range boats out San Diego California make they're way down here to pick at the cow tunas.
Below a small sportfish boat circles Corbatena Rock with live skipjack tunas looking for a cow tuna or a big marlin. Corbatena rock is a small rock island 35 miles outside of the Bay of Banderas.
Large Center Console Panga
A 12 hour charter on a large panga in Mexico to fish the famous tuna bank "El Banco" can run you less than $600 with the right negotiating skills. Be sure to bring a little extra cash to make sure you load up on extra goggle eyes though.
One of the great things about fishing small Pangas in Mexico is that you can get a lot more fishing in than you might otherwise. A week of fishing on a 30 foot panga won't cost you an arm and a leg and you will have a lot more time to adjust to the fishing conditions.
Be sure to try some PV style Sashimi while you are down there!
Bringing Your Own Boat Down There
If you are looking to make a long term investment in catching big tunas down in Mexico it may make sense to bring your boat down there. Make sure you make a network that you can trust first though.
3) Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Large yellowfins can be found in many places offshore the Galapagos islands. The island of Isabella holds lots of small but continuously swarming yellowfins that circle large offshore rocks and are often mixed in with wahoo.
These yellowfin tuna are often found swimming under small black tuna birds. When you pass a group of two to three black tuna birds, you know the bite is on!
Fishing out of Isabela , Galapagos contact Manuco from the Hotel Casa De Los Delfines to find out more information about fishing trips.
Fishing in the island of Isabella usually takes place on pangas or medium size outboard powered boats. Subsurface baits usually work better than others.
Offshore the island of San Cristobal there is a large bank called Banco Rosa which has a number of big yellowfin as well as big striped marlin and blue marlin chasing them around.
Also bring lots of wire, the wahoo's are plentiful and it is VERY hard to find wire on the island. The go to tuna lure is a large Rapala Xrap (bring these yourself too, they are worth their weight in gold down there).
Check out our article on how the Galapagos Islands helped form many of the Bullbuster ideals.
Fishing out of San Cristobal contact Francis Zavala from Samysol fishing charters.
4) Port Lucaya, Grand Bahamas
If you live in South Florida only an hour or two away ( depending on how many outboards you are packing on the back of your boat) is some world class Tuna fishing.
Check out this report by #BullbusterAmbassador Absolut Fishing of their Bahamas yellowfin trip. Below are a few excerpts from the article :
"The first trick to this is pretty obvious, find the birds. It gets tricky after that."
"These fish are very spooky. If you don't run up on them just right, you'll drive them down and miss your shot.. It's all about the chunks and drifting your hooked bait back naturally with the chunks."
Check out #BullbusterAmbassador Absolut Fishing's Bahamas yellowfin video below!
5) Canyons Off Of Rhode Island
When it heats up in the northeast there are plenty of yellowfins to be found along with bigeyes. The bluefin tend to be caught in the cooler months.
Check out the following fishing reports for yellowfin tuna fishing in the Northeast Canyons.
#BullbusterAmbassador The Tree Guy slays some slays some yellowfins offshore Rhode Island along with East Coast Charters.
Check out some of his tuna fishing reports here:
Yellowfins & Bigeyes - The Tree Guy has an excellent night time bite offshore Rhode Island, check out some of the excerpts below:
"First cast TIGHT! The day seemed to fly by after this! We had boated over 100 Yellowfin Tuna and released about 60 of them due to size."
Canyon Fishing Trip - The canyons are like an offshore big game fishing jungle, plenty of fish species to catch yellowfin's, bigeyes, swordfish, mahi, you name it. This is also one of the few places that you are going to be catching tuna amongst whales, pretty wild!
"The yellowfin are always a blast. Its awesome to hook up on a pack of em, that is when mayhem ensues. "
6) Canyons Offshore New Jersey
Growing up fishing the Canyons of New Jersey gave marine artist and #BullbusterAmbassador Alex Wexler the inspiration that makes him one of the most renowned fishing sketch artists in the industry. For Alex its not just about the fishing its about the process.
#BullbusterAmbassador Alex Wexler and marine artist slays some sickle fins out of New Jersey.
Check out his Jersey Yellowfin Tuna Trip Report (Hudson Canyon)
7) Oahu Hawaii
Oahu Hawaii has excellent yellowfin tuna fishing, except over there they are called Ahi. Boy are there some big Ahi over there, just ask #BullbusterAmbassador Jaren Luke. He catches them on the troll way offshore as well as more inshore while kayak fishing. For the big Ahi he is using 125Lb monofilament to catch the big boys on the troll. When he is kayaking he is using small conventional setups in order to land 30-50 Lb ahi's with 40-50Lb braidand 40-60Lb fluorocarbon.
Below are a few articles and excerpts about Ahi fishing out of Oahu.
Late Seaon Ahi Fishing Tactics - Jaren Luke fishing aboard the Anne's Revenge to catch some monster late season Ahi on the west side of the island.
Jaren also catches a lot of Ahi (yellowfin) from his Kayak (Check out his article on sticking more fish from the kayak)
8) Bimini Bahamas
Many anglers take advantage of a quick run north of Bimini in the spring months to catch a TON of yellowfin. However moving further into the islands works well as the summer moves on.
9) Grande Isle Louisiana
Grande Isle is well known for its redfish bite, but the tuna fishing out of Grande Isle can be excellent!
Take a look at #BullbusterAmbassador Fish Commander Charters to learn more about Tuna Fishing in Grande Isle.
10) Miami, Florida
The yellowfin tuna bite in Miami can go off for anglers kite fishing along the edge. This bite doesn't happen every single year though. When it does happen the yellowfin tuna bite can be excellent!
Bullbuster Ambassador Laurel David caught a yellowfin while fishing the edge in the spring of 2017 on 12 Lb Bullbuster Monofilament.
#BullbusterAmbassador L&H Sportfishing also caught a number of other Yellowfin throughout the season.
If you want to read more about yellowfin tuna or tuna fishing in general here are a few more resources:
Yellowfin Tuna Fishing - This is a spot where you can find all of the articles about yellowfin tuna on the Bullbuster Community.
How To Cook Yellowfin Tuna- Tuna meat makes for excellent table fare. Check out this article that has TONS of ways to cook yellowfin.
Ahi (Hawaiin Name For Yellowfin) - Check out yellowfin being caught in Hawaii.
Tuna Fishing - Tunas are all awesome, check out all of the articles involving tuna on the Bulllbuster Community.
Bluefin Tunas- The biggest tunas of them all. Check out articles about bluefin on the Bullbuster Community.
Blackfin Tunas - Blackfin are a blast on light tackle. Check out all of the articles about Blackfin Tuna on the Bullbuster Community.
Bigeye Tunas - One of the most sought after tunas in the ocean.
Big Game Fishing - Sounds like if you read the article all the way to this point you are into big game fishing in general. Check out all of our big game fishing articles.
Offshore Fishing - Want to read about offshore fishing? Click this link.
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We hope that you enjoyed this article on the Bullbuster.net Magazine. It is our mission to help millions of anglers spend more time fishing and that starts with YOU!