Outsmart Louisiana Yellowfin Tuna in Clear Water

Pro tips for targeting Gulf of Mexico tuna near oil rigs or open water.
Better think twice! Targeting yellowfins on spinning gear is a blast, to a point. Once tuna get past a certain size, long fish fights can turn into heartache. Capt. Kevin Beach

The Gulf Coast offshore of Venice, Louisiana, is a hot spot for yellowfin tuna, blue and white marlin. Captain Kevin Beach, of Mexican Gulf Fishing Company, says the key to scoring big tuna in clear water is downsizing his tackle and offering a buffet of bait choices. 

Fishing the offshore oil rigs and open water 30 to 50 miles offshore, Beach catches yellowfin tuna weighing more than 150 pounds regularly, with blue and white marlin releases in the mix too. 

Try Different Baitfish

Beach and his 42-foot Freeman Pale Horse start the day catching bait. “When the bait shows up, everything else follows.” Using No. 6 to No. 8 Sabiki rigs, he loads the livewell with hardtails (blue runners), scad and threadfin herring. “The tuna are temperamental and finicky, so I take a variety of bait,” Beach says.

After he makes bait, Beach runs offshore looking for clear green or blue water. “Clear green water has been the best,” he points out. Some days, Beach finds the tuna within 20 miles of the beach, but the most reliable bite is usually on the rigs out to 50 miles

Light Tackle Gets More Bites

When Beach sets out the baits, he starts with 50-pound-class rods, 100-pound leader and a 6/0 to 10/0 hook. If the fish are skittish, he downsizes. “I’ll go to a 4/0 hook and 15-pound leader,” he says. But Beach avoids battling big tuna on light tackle. “I’d rather get fewer shots at fish with heavier gear,” he says.

To improve his hookup ratio with lighter tackle, Beach has gone to a thin-wire Eagle Claw L2004. “With the light leader, I’m not using enough drag to straighten the hook,” he explains. The light-wire hook improves the presentation of a small bait. 

Use Spinning Gear for Open Water Tuna

Everyone knows fishing is hot around the oil rigs, but Beach likes to find fish in open water. He gets really excited when he finds a whale shark swimming on the surface. “Tuna in the open water haven’t seen 100 hooks, and they’re not afraid of the boat,” he says. This is a perfect opportunity to catch big tuna on a spinning rod and topwater lure.

Beach warns anglers to use heavy spinning tackle. He laughs, “A light rod and reel results in a long battle and usually ends in heartbreak.” He says bruiser tuna require a seven-foot rod and Daiwa 18000 and 20000 Saltiga MQ reels. The reel is spooled with 80-pound braided line and a 4-foot leader of 80- to 100-pound test. He connects the leader to the mainline with an Alberto knot. “Topwater lures change through the season, but the Halco Slidog is consistent,” Beach says.