The Best Tuna Fishing

When fishing the saltwater side of Sportfishing, the Best Tuna Fishing is found of the Southern West Coast. In general, Tuna Fishing can be schedule and targeted with fairly good accuracy.  There are never any guarantees, but the goal for the Sportsfisherman is the Yellow Tail, Albacore or Blue Fin Tuna.

Understanding The Seasonal Patterns And Migrations When Tuna Fishing

Yellow Fin TunaBeginning in February, good numbers of Yellow Tail & Yellow Fin Tuna start arriving off the Southern West Coast around the end of February and become more prevalent in around or by the third week of March. Albacore Tuna begin arriving around the third week of April and into early May, and will be present until mid to late September.  Albacore Tuna then begin making their way up the north coastal water into Morro Bay area for a few weeks and then further upward to the turbulent offshore water of Oregon and Washington State There they succumb to short boat runs usually no more than 30 miles from the sport fleet and encounter heavy commercial fleet fishing.  The water off the northern shore is considerably rougher than the gentle waters in the zone 1 and 2 off the Southern West Coast regions.

Southern California – Its All About The Yellow Tail Tuna

Blue Fin TunaThe California Yellow Tail has been in catchable numbers along the southern California coast, Coronado Islands and outside the “Bull Pin” off Ensenada Baja Mexico. This species is commonly referred to as the “Home Guard”. They are thought to have migrated out of the area but the actual issue is that the sport anglers give it up and the sport fishing boats don’t have adequate numbers to fill the boats to seek out the Yellow Tail Tuna.

Finding Blue Fin Tuna Off The Southern Coast

Following the Albacore, and depending upon current and water temperature, the Blue Fin Tuna show up in various grades as is true with the Yellow Tail and Albacore Tunas. Large schools begin to arrive in late May early June and continue throughout summer and into early fall. Blue Fin Tuna can average 25-50 lbs fish and with an abundance of the larger grade 60 to 150 lbs fish.
Don McDowell - 40lb on Malihini
AlbacoreIn late June, early to mid-July expect to encounter Yellow Tail in large numbers averaging in the 25-45 lbs range as a general rule. The bonus fish Dorado are usually around in good numbers as well during August and will stay until the last week of September. At the latter part of September, the Big Eye Bruiser Tuna show for a short time and they can average in the 100-150 lbs category. A 160+ Big Eye is possible. At the end of the favored Tunas, the Skip Jack, aka “Skippies”, appear.  Although fun to catch, they typically signal the end of the Yellow Tail, Blue Fin and Albacore runs and are about to move out the area.

When Tuna Fishing, methods include trolling with feathered jigs, spoons, and lures; live bait fishing with sardines, squid, anchovies, sardines and other small fishes. The Blue Fin, Yellow Tail, and Albacore are considered by anglers to be an excellent light tackle game fish. Before engaging on tackle with the any of these Tuna’s, check the local dock counts and talk to the captains and deck hands to get an idea the of the weight class of the fish.  Understanding that over the 60-70 lbs class will over tax or more likely trash your “light tackle”, falls into a different category of equipment, which is considered to be 40 lbs line class and lighter. “Fish On” is one thing, landing it is another and we recommend chartering the more experienced Tuna Boats for Sportfishing.

Understanding Fish Zones And Water Conditions For Tuna Fishing

There are three zones to consider when Tuna Fishing.  Pelagic, Reef and Demersal.

Don McDowell on the Tuna ShufflePelagic fish live in the pelagic zone of ocean or lake waters – being neither close to the bottom nor near the shore.  Tuna primarily live in this region.  Demersal Fish do not live on or near the bottom and  Reef Fish, are associated with coral reefs.

Any water in a sea or lake that is neither close to the bottom nor near the shore can be said to be in the Pelagic zone. The word "pelagic" is derived from the Greeks, meaning "open sea". The pelagic zone can be thought of in terms of an imaginary cylinder or water column that goes from the surface of the sea almost to the bottom. Conditions differ deeper in the water column such that as pressure increases with depth, the temperature drops and less light penetrates. Depending on the depth, the water column, rather like earths atmosphere, may be divided into different layers.

Given the temperament of the governing weather patterns of the El Nino and La Nina the arrival of Tuna may vary.  Being informed about weather is important and suggest you go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Official Site and nose around to get a feel for the weather and current patterns as they apply to your area.

What Is Full Contact Fishing When Tuna Fishing

The key to success when Tuna Fishing and the most important task you have as an angler fishing for Tuna off a boat is to stay in front of your line, follow the line; it’s called the “Tuna Shuffle”.  When you hook up, every angler on the boat is shuffling down the gunnels following your line.  The fish will dictate where you have to go. To avoid letting your fish and line getting away from you, you will run over and under other anglers on either side of you.

Experience anglers know the courtesy of keeping up with your fish.  Be clear with other anglers by announcing your intentions while following your fish.  “Coming over/under” is a common call to avoid confusion.  In Tuna fishing, it’s sometimes referred to as “Full Contact Fishing” and that’s primarily because the next guy isn’t paying any attention to what you’re doing. You take control of your fish by following your line and dealing with what’s required to land the fish. Look, you HOLLER out gaff and you’ll have a deck hand at side until that fish flops on the deck. Keep your Man Card in your pocket; let the deck hand assist you. After the fish is on the deck then pull out the Man Card and commence with chest pounding! 

Reference Links

Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission

Indian Ocean Tuna Commission

Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna