There are many species of wild tuna to be found all over the world. Some of the finest and most desirable species, including the world famous Yellowfin, can be found in the Gulf of Mexico. Whether you are a beginning angler or an accomplished expert, the waters off the coast of Louisiana are filled with some of the finest specimens of Yellowfin on Earth.
Where Can the Yellowfin Most Commonly Be Found?
Yellowfin are found in waters all over the planet, with separate Atlantic and Pacific groups among the most common. The Yellowfin can be found everywhere from the Aegean Sea filtering into the Mediterranean to the Hawaiian islands to just off the coast of the Maldives. Their range is one of the largest and widest of all tuna.
Many people believe that the best quality of Yellowfin can be found in the Gulf waters just off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. These waters are brimming with Yellowfin, especially in the spring months that constitute the animal’s spawning season. The Louisiana Gulf is easy to reach, easy to navigate, and home to countless specimens of these world-renowned sporting fish.
Yellowfin Are a Relatively Long-Lived Species
The life cycle of the average Yellowfin usually plays out over a period of 7 years. While this is a quite short span for most animals, it is average for a deep water fish. During this time, the Yellowfin will grow from a small fry to a fully fledged adult. Maturity is usually reached within the span of two years, at which time the Yellowfin will begin its spawning activities.
Some recent scientific studies have suggested that the Gulf Yellowfin may spend its entire life cycle in the Gulf. If this is true, it would explain why so many specimens are caught in the Gulf of Mexico at times when they are relatively hard to locate in other parts of the world.
What Are Common Behaviors for Yellowfin?
The Yellowfin exhibits a range of behaviors, some of which are characteristic to all species of tuna while others are specific to itself. Most Yellowfin prefer to stay in the deep water, rarely if ever coming to shore. As a result, they make for excellent sport fish since they are uniquely adapted for both persistence and speed and are not normally found anywhere except for particularly challenging deep fishing areas.
Occasionally, after a storm or during prime feeding conditions, they will approach the beach or other coastal areas. This is usually due to them pursuing and feeding on baitfish that concentrate in these areas. They may also approach near to the shore when the clarity and temperature of the water are suitable to their temperament. This usually results in a large concentration of Yellowfin indulging in a feeding frenzy.
Yellowfin Tend to Be Found in Large Schools in the Gulf
Yellowfin tend to travel in large schools. Normally, this large group includes only their own species, consisting mostly of individuals of their own size. However, they will occasionally expand their school in order to include other species of tuna. They also sometimes travel with smaller sized yellowfin as well as skipjack tuna.
An interesting fact about these schooling activities is that they also sometimes include some species of dolphins and porpoises. They have even been spotted schooling with whales and whale sharks. While the general purpose of schooling in large numbers is known to be for protection, it has not yet been determined what special purpose is served by associating with fish and marine mammals so different from their own species.
The Yellowfin has also been known to school among drifting debris, such as abandoned pallets and logs. Some have been known to follow after fishing boats, presumably in search of the bait or chum that is commonly dropped overboard. This makes them an extremely easy fish to locate, although catching one will depend on the individual level of skill and focus that an angler possesses for the task.
What is an Average Compared to a Huge Yellowfin?
The average Gulf Yellowfin will grow to a size of about 400 pounds. This makes them a significantly large sporting fish, although not quite as large as some of their relatives in the tuna world. For example, Bluefin tunas can grow nearly twice as large, but we can’t catch those. The Gulf Yellowfin is nearly the same size as the Bigeye and Southern Bluefin.
However, there have been examples caught on record of Gulf Yellowfins that have reached a significantly larger size than the average. Some specimens have ranged up to 8 feet in length and 440 pounds in weight. Some studies suggest that some of the very largest Yellowfin can be found in the Gulf waters off the coast of the state.
What Do Yellowfin Prefer to Feed On?
The Yellowfin tuna is normally very near to the top of the food chain in its natural environment. As a result, they are extremely active predators who enjoy feasting on a wide variety of other marine animals. These include crustaceans of various kinds, squids, and other fish.
The body of the Yellowfin is specially streamlined to allow them to be extremely fast moving and agile. This gives them a major advantage when pursuing other fish in the water. Some of their favorite meals are mackerels, flying fish, and even other species of tuna, include skipjack and frigate mackerel. School fish, such as anchovies, lanterns, and sardines are also frequently preyed upon.
What Are the Seasonal Variations in the Diet of the Yellowfin?
It should be noted that there do exist some wide variations in the diet of the Yellowfin during different parts of the year. This is due to a number of factors, including the periodic migration of various types of fish, including the Yellowfin itself. As a result, the size and quality of your catch may vary depending on how often and how well Yellowfin in your area are feeding.
Since Yellowfin can travel up to 50 miles per hour, they are usually not preyed upon by other fish. Some species of whale and shark do tend to feed upon them on occasion. In general, Yellowfin are top-level predators who can feast upon their choice of meals, subject only to the availability of their preferred hunting subjects during the specific time of year.
During the fall and winter seasons, Yellowfin are known to feed on types of fish that are associated with bottom feeding near the floor of the Gulf. These include sea robins, croakers, flatfish, and shrimp. This is partly due to the fact that Yellowfin have a habit of following shrimp boats to and from the Gulf and feeding on the bait and castaways that are regularly thrown overboard.
Why Do Yellowfin Tuna Get So Big?
Many anglers are fascinated by the relatively large size of the Yellowfin. There are many reasons why Yellowfin attain such a large size. As members of the tuna family, they are naturally one of the larger fish in the water. It also has to be factored in that the waters of the Gulf are particularly warm, clear, and filled with plenty of other fish for the Yellowfin to prey upon. There is thus much scope for large growth.
Because of their large size, Yellowfin are prized as sport fish. There is plenty of meat to be had on an animal that can weigh as much as 400 pounds. Even if not being caught as a potential meal, the Yellowfin is a very large fish that will give an angler plenty of fight before they are finally caught.
What is the Spawning Season for Yellowfin?
Yellowfin tend to spawn between April and August. A female will tend to lay a series of egg clutches that can number as high as 1.1 million. The interval for egg laying is about every 1 1/2 to 3 days. Younger females will tend to lay fewer eggs at less frequent rates than a fully mature female. The spawning age for an adult Yellowfin is roughly two years.
The condition of the water where they choose to breed and lay their eggs will naturally influence their number and viability. Under ideal conditions, a female Yellowfin, fully sized about 70 pounds, can lay up to 25 million eggs during the course of the spawning season. While few of these eggs will survive to adulthood, the sheer number of fry spawned will be more than enough to sustain the species for another generation.
The Gulf Yellowfin Has Long Been a Seafood Staple
While many anglers are new to the Gulf region, chances are good that they have sampled Yellowfin tuna at a restaurant. Yellowfin is highly desirable in many forms, including grilled, charbroiled, and even as sashimi. This last category is especially common in Japan, where it is considered to be quite the exquisite delicacy.
For anglers who are not inclined to sample the Yellowfin raw, it can be cooked either as the main course or as part of a stew or assorted seafood dish. Its relative scarcity during some seasons may tend to drive the price up. However, during the spring and summer months, Yellowfin can be commonly found in many seafood restaurants all across the United States as well as the rest of the world.
Is the Gulf Yellowfin Sustainable for Long Term Harvesting?
Due to the increasing rarity of other types of tuna, including the formerly much more common bluefin, the Yellowfin is being listed as a replacement fish in many areas. However, depending on the area, there are some restrictions that will apply to this classification. You may not be able to bring as many fish ashore in one area as you can in another.
It should also be noted that a number of authorities, such as the Audubon’s Seafood Guide, consider certain types of tuna, including the Yellowfin, to be unsustainable for long term harvesting. This is due to certain allegedly non-eco-friendly practices that are employed by both commercial fishermen and sport fishers in many parts of the world. These allegations have yet to substantiated by any major environmental summit or commission.
The Southern Gulf Coast is the Best Place to Fish for Yellowfin
Sport fishing for Gulf Yellowfin has become a nationally recognized sport. A number of highly competitive and lucrative tournaments and other fishing events have been organized all over the Southern Gulf Coast, particularly in the bayou regions south of New Orleans, most notably, Venice, Louisiana – the sportfishing capital of the world. Whether you are looking to compete for a large purse or simply want to try your hand at an exciting new hobby, the Gulf Coast is a highly recommended venue.
If you are an angler who is interested in catching some of the most competitive sport fish on the planet, you are well advised to visit the Southern Gulf Coast, hire a gulf coast fishing charter, and hit the water. This is the place where you will find thousands of Yellowfin and other species. These fish will give you an excellent run for your money. Hook into one and you’ll instantly know what I mean.
Charter a Fishing Trip to See the Yellowfin Up Close
Whether you are new to the sport or searching for the ultimate challenge to sharpen up your skills, this region comes warmly recommended by experts in the fishing industry. You can find plenty of charter fishing services that will gladly take you out on the water. The season for Yellowfin is extremely flexible. Keep in mind that some seasonal restrictions on the number of fish caught will apply.
In many ways, chartering a boat for a fishing trip on the Southern Gulf Coast is an adventure that cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the world. While it is true that sport fishing for the Yellowfin is a relatively new pastime, it has definitely grown over the course of the past few decades. You can easily charter a fishing boat bound for the Gulf Coast in hopes of finding the angling event you’ve been waiting your whole life for.