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February 08, 2010

Six Top Yellowfin Spots

Six top spots to battle behemoth yellowfin tuna - and then some...


Amos Nachoum

Bermuda's known for big marlin, but its location in the middle of the western Atlantic puts the island in the midst of yellowfin tuna grounds as well. While monster tuna aren't the norm, the action can be fast and in late summer can include triple-digit yellowfin.

Size: During the one-month peak season, yellowfin may range from 80 to 150 pounds. At other times, 25 to 50 pounds is more the norm.

Odds: Roughly a 50-50 chance in peak season on a given day for boating yellowfin of 80 to 100 pounds or more.

Season: August. You may find tuna before and after that month; however, August offers most of the shots at that elusive 200-pounder. (The island record is 212.)

Run to the Fish: Many variables come into play, including the port of departure, with Somerset a bit closer to the grounds than Port Hamilton. Expect a run of 25 to 40 minutes.

Conditions: Most often (barring tropical weather systems - always a possibility in late summer), the Atlantic is at its calmest in August.

Charters: Roughly 10 serious charters operate in Bermuda. Day rates range from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on size of boat.

Methods: Chumming/chunking is at once both highly effective and great fun, even providing fly-rodders shots at yellowfin, says Capt. Allen DeSilva. "But," he adds, "the big August yellowfin are almost all caught trolling." These fish stay off the banks in deeper water, 20 to 1,000 fathoms "and are always moving." So setting up chum slicks won't work for them. Bermuda skippers like DeSilva try to troll just fast enough to get out front and put a horse ballyhoo or flying fish ahead of them.

Accommodations: Bermuda has a reputation for being a pretty expensive destination. Nevertheless, you can find decent digs for $100 to $200 per night (double occupancy, usually including breakfast and sometimes ground transportation from/to airport). But, of course, you can also find far more costly rooms of the five-star variety.

Other Opportunities: As in some other areas, prime time for big yellowfin also happens to be peak blue marlin season, so trollers may pick up either/or - or occasionally, both.

Travel Costs: From Miami you'll pay $500 to $700; from L.A., surprisingly, rates are not a lot more.

Source: Allen DeSilva, owner and operator of Mako Charters, has been skippering in Bermuda for 38 years. His new Mako is a 56-foot Sunny Briggs Carolina sport-fisher powered by twin 1,000 hp diesels. DeSilva has tagged/released the most blue marlin in Bermuda over the past 21 years, and his catches include a 1,352-pounder. For more information, visit