ALSO KNOWN AS:
When is best:
Yellowfin, like their smaller cousin the Blackfin, can be caught at any time off the Florida Keys but
are most abundant in fall and winter.
About these fish:
The Yellowfin Tuna is very sought after by sport fishermen because of their size, strength, and well,
Weighing from 40 to over 200 pounds, these battlers test angler and tackle alike. Pound for pound,
this may be the hardest fighting fish in the ocean. These are exciting and rewarding sportfish.
Yellowfin tuna have a muscular, streamlined body like a swimming torpedo and like all tuna they
can swim fast as lightning. A tuna's color is dark blue to black on the back and tail fin, yellow and
silver on the side and belly. The second dorsal and anal fins are yellow and very long in older fish.
Finlets run down the back and belly from these two fins to the tail fin and are a bright, canary yellow
with black edges.
Yellowfin tuna are found worldwide in tropical and some subtropical waters. These bodies of water
include all three warm oceans Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans and all warm seas except the
Various baitfish, crustaceans and squids make up the bulk of their diet. They will hit chunks of cut
up fish, (called chunking). Drift near a school, cut up your bait fish into halves and use for
chumming while you place a fish head or half a fish on your hook. Toss out your line, no lead, and
work it back into the chum pieces you throw over the side. A tune may hit the bait right near the
surface. The feed most often at or near the surface and are often active at night.
Yellowfin tuna are considered an excellent food and sport fish and are highly sought after by
anglers and commercial fishermen alike. After hitting a lure or bait, they often go deep and will fight
with great power and tenacity.
Trolling is the most popular method for catching yellowfin tuna. Trolling is so effective because
these fish hang out in huge schools. You have to cover lots of water to find these schools. Once
you hook a fish, it gets very exciting. Anglers usually stop trolling and get out the chum lines. On the
Atlantic coast, chunks of butterfish and menhaden are used for chum. On the Pacific coast,
live anchovies and sardines are the preferred bait for chumming. As the trolled fish are brought
aboard, anglers typically use anchovies, butterfish and squid to start catching yellowfin tuna. The
action is very fast once you have located the school of tuna. Some anglers continue to troll instead
of using chum lines. When you troll through a school, it’s possible to have a fish on every trolled
rod at once. It’s so exciting that some fishermen don’t even bother to stop and chum. They will troll
through the school until the fish stop feeding. Both methods work. It just depends on your personal
preference. Yellowfin tuna taste excellent and the meat holds its flavor well while frozen.
|Florida Keys Fish
In order to land yellowfin tuna in
Florida, U.S. federal and even
international waters, your vessel
must possess a Highly Migratory
Species angling permit, available
from the National Marine
Fisheries Service. Cost is $28 for
the annual vessel permit;
www.nmfspermits.com or call
This permit is also required for
landing skipjack tuna, bluefin
tuna, big-eye tuna, albacore,
swordfish, marlins, sailfish and
certain pelagic sharks.
Daily bag limit for yellowfin tuna
is 3 per person; minimum size is
27 inches curved fork length. A
flexible measuring tape is
stretched from the tip of the
snout, over the pectoral fin
insertion point and tight along the
curved flank to the fork of the tail.
There is no phone reporting
requirement for landings of
yellowfin tuna, as there is for
bluefin, swordfish and billfish.
In addition to the HMS permit,
U.S. anglers fishing Bahamas
waters need to possess a
Bahamas vessel cruising and
fishing permit, available at Port of
Entry. Valid for two entries within
a 90-day period, the permit is
$150 for vessels up to 35 feet;
$350 for those larger (cost goes
up if more than 4 persons are
Yellowfin tuna limit there is 6 per
vessel (this figure includes the
aggregate count of all pelagic
species, including wahoo,
dolphin and kingfish).
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|More helpful Florida Keys and Key West websites:
www.flkeys-diving.com | www.thefloridakeys-keywest.com | www.flkeysgc.com