Two Great Places To Get That Huge Yellowfin Tuna
Fishing for yellowfin is more than just something to do. It’s the way of life. Life is always more fun when a successful catch ends the perfect day. There are two great places to find huge yellowfin. Here they are with a few tips mixed in for good measure.
The oil rigs that dot the Gulf can spoil fishermen with their bounty of yellowfin, blue marlin, blackfin, and beautiful days. Don’t expect to get a blue marlin every trip. Instead, focus on a few things to make the process better for yourself and the crew.
Not all rigs are equal. A good captain knows how to spot rigs that aren’t productive. Depending on water conditions, time of year, and baitfish availability, most rigs are ok. The different floating structure of each rig mean different fish at different depths. Yellowfin like the up-current sides of rigs.
Check for surface action upon arriving at the rig. Think about your bait mixture and also check for subcurrents. Tuna can move with different currents in deep water versus what’s showing on the surface.
The rig is less important than the quality of the water and the baitfish used to attract yellowfin. The deeper the water the better. Optimal depth is 1500 feet.
Keep a sharp eye on your depth sounder. Mark the school beneath the boat and make sure your lures are at the right depth. Tuna are less afraid at depth and are more likely to bite. Feel the weight of the fish on the line before you set the hook otherwise you’ll lose it.
Chum works, too. Using chum can be visually exciting as well as productive. The fish get close to the boat and action can be intense. Consider shutting down your engine and generator and drifting. With a steady flow of chum, it’s amazing how close to the boat the fish will get with there is no sound.
Fake them out. Chasing surface action can be frustrating. Fish will often dive as you approach. Troll very slowly, about three knots or so, and run a line on a high angle outrigger so the bait floats about 300 yards behind the boat. The tuna won’t associate the boat and bait allowing you to dive in.
The one trick is backing down hard after the bite so the sharks don’t steal your catch as you pull in the line.
The fall and winter months are universally seen as the best for offshore fishing in Venice. The potential for big yellowfin and wahoo are during this time. As the clean water pushes closer to shore and the discharge volume from the Mississippi, it makes going out to floater rigs unnecessary.
Shrimp boats are an excellent source for yellowfin. During the fall months from September to October, the chum they create naturally attracts schools and provides an excellent opportunity. Gulf waters about 25 to 35 miles out are usually best. Here are a few more things to think about.
Look for the signs. Blue water is best, but green water is also viable. Get there early and set up a rapport with the shrimpers by trading for the bycatch. The bycatch is usually full of a variety of finfish and crustaceans that hungry tuna love. Shrimpers happily accept beer and ice cream in exchange for the bycatch. Make friends and bring the good stuff.
Finding a boat that has has been out for a few days is best. They have a pattern set up and attract yellowfin best when you see bonito and blackfins. Head out before dawn to intercept the shrimp fleet and load up on chum. As soon as possible after first light, be ready when the bycatch goes overboard.
Sharks are bad.
If you see sharks when you reach a shrimper, just move on.
Work as a team. Someone must be at helm at all times. A few more must constantly toss chum while more keep up with the mess. Anglers make the score. You can pull a school of yellowfin away from a shrimp boat by drifting and keeping the flow of chum steady.
Be patient. Often, the sheer volume of fish means the yellowfin can hide. Sometimes all you’ll find are bonito behind one boat. Sharks on a few more. Stay focused and look for blackfin. The yellowfin can be right behind them. Getting lucky often means being active for seven to eight hours. Sometimes, it’s just a nice day on the water.