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February 08, 2010

Six Top Yellowfin Spots

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

Five More Great Yellowfin Spots

Oregon Inlet, North Carolina - Charters and private boats take advantage of the configuration of the Eastern Seaboard, which juts into the Atlantic here to offer a shorter run to blue water, so Oregon Inlet boats find blue water usually in 30 to 40 miles. From May through August, find the best shot at big yellowfin (and fair weather), though "big" is relative. While yellowfin provide a very popular fishery here with good numbers, it's rare to get them much over 100 pounds. However, as Capt. Billy Maxwell (www.tunafever.com) notes, bigeye may be mixed into the catches and often run upward of 200 pounds and occasionally to 300. Peak of the peak: the July full moon. Skippers like Maxwell favor kites, often baited with Carolina Lures' Yummee Fly 'N Fish.

Cape Town, South Africa - You can count on loads of tuna off SA and figure on 100- to 150-pounders fairly often. Anything more than 200 is possible but never likely, says Ryan Nienaber with Ski-Boat magazine (www.africanangler.com). November offers the biggest tuna most years (though 2009 didn't pan out so well). This fishery offers some unique exhilaration also: Charters and private boaters beach-launch in what are known as "ski boats," typical metal cats that bust through the surf (with impeccable timing). Then figure a run of 20 to 40 miles to the tuna. Conditions vary, but those looking for flat seas probably need not apply. For more information, visit www.southseasafaris.co.za and www.hookedonafrica.co.za.

Bermagui, Southeastern Australia - This has long been the port for big yellowfin Down Under (though Jervis Bay, Merimbuila, Sydney, Coffs Harbour and Port Stephens all offer good shots), say Jim Harnwell, publisher of Australia's popular magazine Fishing World (www.fishingworld.com.au), and writer/photographer Al McGlashan (www.almcglashan.com). Trophy size here means 150 to 200 pounds, though an average size would be about one-third of that. Best months are June to September. Many tuna enthusiasts troll deep-diving plugs (Halco Laser Pros or Rapala 30+ X-Raps) to locate tuna, then switch to chunking (or "cubing" in local parlance). Conditions on the south coast are actually less windy in winter (Down Under); you may find dead-calm days from 10 to 20 knots with four- to six-foot seas. Several charters fish the area (www.fishbermi.com), with day rates running AU$600 to AU$1,200 (about $400 to $800). Other species targeted here: mako, albacore and swordies.

Tonga - Yellowfin heavier than 150 pounds are definitely available at times, but with a great range of sizes around this South Pacific island nation. From November through April, look for "massive schools of yellowfin, mixed in size from schoolies to 200-pounders, and when the bite is on, it's the best I've ever seen," says Capt. Corky Decker, who has quite literally fished around the world. The run to the fishing grounds? About five minutes: There's no continental shelf here - the sides of the mountain that rises beneath Tonga Vava'u Islands simply plummet. And with fishing in the lee of the high volcanic island, boaters can enjoy protection similar to Kona, says Decker, who advises checking out Ika Lahi Lodge at www.tongafishing.com.

Los Sueños, Costa Rica - You can find yellowfin at times topping the 200-pound mark, says internationally known writer/photographer/angler Bill Boyce (www.boyceimage.com). "The entrance to the Golfo Nicoya brings amazing production to the area."

Ascension Island - Though traveling to Ascension Island is a major commitment from nearly anywhere, it's certainly a land of big fish, notably huge blue marlin, but also some hefty yellowfin, among other species. Fishing writer/photographer Nic Zingarelli (www.caranx.net) cites October and November as prime for big tuna. He notes that on the downside, there's not much respite from winds, but on the upside, fishing the island's lee side can mitigate big seas - and with its sub-marine terrain steeply dropping into great depths, one needn't venture far at all to find blue water.

Among many other areas where big yellowfin have been caught and can be taken with some reliability: Vanuatu, Ghana and the Maldives.