Fishing for Yellowfin Tuna

Known as the pinnacle of all Tuna fishing, Yellowfin Tuna is irreplaceable in many ways. From migrating seasonally to finding the perfect way to lure and bait the monster fish, it’s worth every ounce of effort learning how to fish for Yellowfin Tuna and catch them.

This species of tuna primarily reside in pelagic waters, or what’s most commonly known as the open water and upper layers of the ocean.

This type of fish is known to be torpedo-shaped with yellow sides and dorsal fins along with a silver belly.

They typically only live for 6-7 years and are most commonly found in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

Learn how to tell the difference between bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna

When Can You Fish For Yellowfin Tuna Off the Gulf Coast

If you’re planning to take an offshore fishing charter anywhere in the deep, open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, then you can be certain Yellowfin Tuna are lurking in those waters.

While they migrate constantly, they can be found year-round. Besides having a great charter fishing captain with you, a good way to locate them is by looking for flocks of birds feeding on the water. This is due to the way that birds frequently follow schools of tuna.

So, when you see a flock of birds, it’s time to push bait to the surface of the water to help make Yellowfin more visible.  

how to catch yellowfin tuna

Where Do Yellowfin Hunt and What Do They Eat

If you want to know how to fish for Yellowfin Tuna, it’s important to know that they are hunted by many predators. This is partially why they migrate throughout the entirety of the year.

This makes them very adaptable to changes in things like water temperature, what they eat, and where they swim. Since Yellowfin Tuna can adjust to both warm and cold water, this makes them prime fishing game in the Gulf. 

In adolescent years, they survive primarily off of tiny zooplankton. As they grow they eat larger bony fishes and squids. Sometimes, larger Yellowfins will even eat blackfin tuna. Anywhere there are deep open waters, you can expect Yellowfin to be close by, either eating or migrating. 

What Kind of Bait and Lures are Most Efficient to Catch Yellowfin

Since Yellowfin have a large diet, you can bait them with small fish, squid, or other trolled baits. Additionally, you can try your hand at using live bait to attract them since they are considered predators to other fish.

We recommend using colored diving plugs or cedar to catch bigger Yellowfin.

Tuna swim at a very fast pace compared to other fish, so if you can get in front of a moving school, drop your lures, and let the tuna catch up to you as you move and get up to speed, then you may get a few bites. Once you’ve got a bite, keep moving to try and get multiple bites before bringing in your catch. 

Other great options for bait include:

  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Small pelagic crabs
  • Pogies

Difficulty Level: What to Expect

When you’re attempting to hook and reel a massive Yellowfin Tuna, you can expect an adventure.

Yellowfin Tuna are known for sticking it out and not giving up without a fight. They’re incredibly strong and will battle until the end to get away, which is why using a great charter fishing boat is helpful.

Be prepared to use all of your strength to get this monster fish in. Be patient when reeling them in. These massive fish have been known to get up to 400 lbs. And while they’re easily found, they’re not always so easy to catch. You must be willing to stick it out and wrestle to bring them in.

fishing for yellowfin tuna

Should You Worry About a Bag Limit?

Yellowfin fishing is year-round, meaning they’re fair game for all tuna fishing charters from Jan 1 – December 31. When fishing for Yellowfin Tuna, no more than 3 Yellowfin per person, per day, per trip can be possessed on board a fishing vessel.

The minimum size for catching Yellowfin Tuna is regulated at 27″, and these standards must be applied no matter the duration of the trip.