Yellowfin Tuna Fishing from Galveston, TexasYellowfin Tuna: Yellowfin Tuna are one of the true "bucket-list" fish, not only in the Gulf of Mexico, but world-wide. Yellowfin Tuna is the "Ahi" tuna and "Maguro" sushi that you eat at fancy restaurants. Yellowfin are one of the strongest fighting fish around, often winning out over inexperienced anglers, especially when their tackle isn't world class. On Paparda Rey and Sea King Blue, we fish for Yellowfin Tuna using several different methods - often using more than one of the methods at the same time.
How to Catch Yellowfin Tuna in the Gulf of Mexico Interested in yellowfin tuna fishing from Galveston with us? You can charter a tuna fishing boat or yacht with our expert fishing crew and captain, just contact us or reserve a spot on our calendar.
The Trolling Near Floaters Fishing Method On any trip where we will be specifically targeting Yellowfin, we will travel out off the edge of the continental shelf to the deepwater oil and gas production facilities (often called "floaters") by the fishermen. There are several of these off the Texas coast, including Boomvang, Nansen, Hoover Diana, Gunnison and Perdido. The deepwater drilling rigs are also good. Targeting Yellowfin means being at these deepwater floaters and drilling rigs overnight, because the Yellowfin (which are almost always there) come much closer to the surface on a regular basis at night when the bait fish gather up to the surface because of the lights of the floater or rig. We also catch Yellowfin while trolling in deepwater during the daylight hours for marlin and sailfish. But if you are specifically targeting Yellowfin, you will need to be at the deepwater floaters and rigs at night. By deepwater, I mean water of 1500 feet or more. Generally, we try to arrive at the floaters just before dark, so we can troll a while. If the Yellowfin are really on, you often see an air show with 100 pounders jumping 6 to 8 feet in the air at that time of day. Just before dark, we often snag our first Yellowfin or two while trolling. Yellowfin will hit most any trolled baits, but smaller skirted baits rigged with dead ballyhoo trolled way back from the boat are often the most effective.
Catching Yellowfin Using the Drift Method Once dark comes, we switch to "drift fishing" instead of trolling. This means we position the boat at a place where it will drift with the current over the pockets of bait we have located with our sonar. We will immediately begin our ritual of rigging up the several fisherman in the cockpit to simultaneously. A couple of fishermen will be rigged to "drift" fish with frozen cut bait (this in called "chunking") or dead ballyhoo on tiny circle hooks and using our Penn International 30 pound class two speed reels with stand up rods. A couple of the fishermen will be rigged with 15 pound class Shimano reels and popper rods with heavy jigs to catch live bait fish to replace the inferior frozen cut bait we are drift fishing with. All the while the deckhands are on the look out for flying fish coming to our underwater lights. Flying Fish Any flying fish that we net immediately goes on one of the two drift rigs, usually replacing the dead bait chunks or the dead flying fish first. Typically, live flying fish have a one to one hook ratio on big Yellowfin, clearly making them the most desirable bait. The fresh chunk bait often is the next best bait. We also rig with large class spinning reels and rods with popper baits to catch the Yellowfin that are popping up to the top, especially while we are chugging back to restart the drift. As you can see, there are lots of lines in the water at the same time. Only experience, discipline and professional deckhands keep this from being a knotted up mess. Drift Fishing When a serious Yellowfin is hooked up in the course of drift fishing, the action really starts. The first thing that happens is the line starts ripping of the 30 wide reel and, since the "clicker" is in the on position and the drag is set to free spool, everyone onboard can hear the rapid grinder noise from the rod as the fish rips off 30 to 50 feet of line. The fish is basically swimming free at 30 miles an hour around the area, having swallowed the bait and circle hook. As the fisherman grabs the rod from the gunnel, the fishermen "runs the drag up" and that pulls the circle hook and bait harmlessly from the fishes stomach and it winds up perfectly hooked in the corner of the Yellowfin's mouth. Then, the fight is on. The other lines are all cleared to give the fishermen plenty of room. The captain positions the boat to keep the fish behind the boat. As the fishermen get the fish close to boat, sometimes after a 20 to 30 minute fight, we will finally "see color" and know for sure just how big a fish we have. The Yellowfin we catch are generally between 50 and 120 pounds. Once we have the fish up near the surface, the fight is not over. Spiral Fighting Yellowfin almost always start their final "spiral" fight about that time. They turn their bodies and big fins sideways against the water column, thus giving them lots more leverage against drag and giving them the recurrent opportunity to break the line by merely touching it against the hull of the boat or the running gear. The captain is constantly repositioning the boat to help the fisherman defeat the spiral defensive moves of the fish. After another eternity, the fish will finally come into gaff range. Gaffing Yellowfin Gaffing Yellowfin is truly an art form and a very manly one at that. You have to snag a moving fish with a 7 foot gaff right behind the "ear hole". A miss means you often break the fishing line or the fish pulls the gaff out of your hand or you overboard. Then, after you gaff him, you just have to lift his huge body over the gunnel and into the boat without the gaff coming out.
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