240 Pound Yellowfin Caught Off Northern California

It's not a record yellowfin for the state, but a tuna of such huge size is a rare catch that far north on the West Coast.
Large yellowfin tuna caught off Southern California
A head-stander yellowfin if there ever was one!!! Courtesy Seabass Sportfishing

The waters off northern California have been warm this year, resulting in an unusually high number of marlin, dolphin and tuna being caught by offshore anglers. But a team of fishermen trolling off Fort Bragg, Calif, located north of Mendocino, were stunned when they hooked a massive tuna on Sept. 22.

Area anglers Dylan Taube, Edmund Jin and Frank Lovelady were on Jin’s boat with Capt. Dave Li of Sebass Sportfishing.

The anglers headed out at dawn, running about 10 miles offshore looking for warm water, finally locating 61.5 degree water at mid-morning.

“We put out a big spread of different lures and started trolling,” Taube reported to the Stockton Record.

They caught a couple small albacore, but at 10:30 a bigger fish hit a trolled lure and things changed for the better.

“I was the first to grab the rod as line peeled out,” Taube reported to the Stockton Record. “We pretty quickly realized the fish wasn’t an albacore — we knew that we had hooked a tuna over 100 pounds. We brought in the gear and the captain slowed the boat down. We took turns fighting the fish — I fought it for first 20 minutes, Jin battled it for 20 minutes, and Lovelady fought the tuna over the next 20 minutes.

“The only reason why we landed the big fish was because Lovelady and Li teamed up to circle around the fish so we were finally able to gain line. We kept reeling until we saw color. We handed the rod to Jin so he could fight the fish the last 10 minutes.

Taube and Lovelady gaffed the fish thinking it was a bluefin or bigeye tuna, but were surprised it was a massive yellowfin.

On shore, the anglers measured the tuna at 61 inches long, with a 54-inch girth. Based on the fish’s measurements it weighed an estimated 240 pounds. While huge by any standard, the fish is not a state record because multiple anglers battled it.

The California record yellowfin is a 265-pounder caught by Bo Scanlan in 2017 off Oceanside, north of San Diego.

“In the past several years, an occasional marlin, bluefin and dorado have been caught off the North Coast (of California),” Taube said. “But it is unprecedented to have marlin, dorado, bigeye, bluefin and yellowfin tuna all showing at the same time. The warm water and bait is there now and it’s drawing in tuna and other fish.

“We got very lucky. We were at the right place at the right time with the right gear and it all came together.”