It’s the peak season of yellowfin tuna in Cabo San Lucas, so if you’re dreaming of catching a big one, this is certainly the best time to do it! Tuna action is excellent from April to October so better take advantage of this biting bonanza by chartering a boat in Cabo before the action slows down again.
Nature engineered the yellowfin for speed and endurance which makes it a challenging target for avid anglers. This species has a streamlined body with metallic dark blue on the back, yellow sides and a silver belly. They have long, bright yellow anal and dorsal fins and the latter can be retracted to allow the water to flow more smoothly over its body while in motion. Another striking feature is their tiny, bright yellowfins called finlets that extend down the top and bottom side of the body.
Yellowfin tunas diet consists of a wide variety of fish (particularly sardines, mackerel, pilchard, anchovy, and even other tuna), squid, cuttlefish, octopus, lobster, shrimp, and crabs. These opportunistic predators can grow to 2 m in length and weigh as much as 400 kg. They reach reproductive maturity upon 2-3 years of age and can live up to a ripe age of 6 to 7 years.
Increase your odds of landing a prized catch
Catching a huge yellowfin tuna is one of the top goals of many enthusiastic sport fishermen. Here are some tips that can improve your angling strategies and help you accomplish your goal.
When battling this species, you have to come fully prepared, otherwise, your ocean opponent will get away from your clutches without difficulty. Just like in any battle, you need to arm yourself with the appropriate weapon to overcome your foe. You’ll need a medium spinning tackle to heavy offshore gear depending on the size of your targeted ocean predator.
If you’re eyeing a 50 pounders, you can start with a 50-pound tackle with 50-pound monofilament line then add a 25-foot wind-on leader of 150-pound mono. Connect a 10-foot leader of 130-pound test with the use of a wind-on swivel but if it begins to resist, you can change to fluorocarbon and downgrade the leader. You will need an 80-pound tackle for catch size within 100-250 pounds. For giants that weigh 250 pounds or more, you’ll need 80 to 130-pound tackle. Using higher-rated rods will allow you to put more pressure on bigger predators and shorten the fight time. When it comes to reels, two-speed lever drag reels are ideal for trolling.
Another important factor of increasing striking ratio is choosing the right bait. Yellowfins can be caught with natural baits, artificial baits (tuna feathers, cedar plugs, and plastic skirted trolling lures), or a combination. The ballyhoo-and-skirt combo or a simple, naked ballyhoo rig is effective for these fast swimmers. Best skirt color schemes are blue and white, chartreuse and white, and pink and white. On cloudy days, you can try the combinations of black and red or red and pink but sometimes getting the right one to work means trying out different color combinations until you are rewarded with the ultimate strike. Artificial baits such as a spreader bar followed by a squid can also generate positive results in the water. The recommended speed for trolling is 6 knots and when the fish hits keep trolling until all the rods go down for the chance to get more of them.
If you chance upon a school feeding, you can cast lures such as poppers into them. Go for lures that are quick to retrieve since these line-shy species are known for their superb eyesight.
Chum is a useful tactic whether fishing with lures or natural baits because it entices your target and keeps the fish around the boat. Chunking is another technique that you can try which involves cutting chunks of a large bait fish and tossing them over the side of the boat similar to what you do with chum. Hide a circle hook in one of the chunks and allow it to drift naturally with the rest without any drag. You won’t miss it when your target takes a bite because it will take off in an instant. The circle hook is effective on this species since they have the habit of grabbing the bait and running off with it. When it does, engage the reel and let the hook slide into the corner of its mouth. Once it’s latched on, the predator will have a hard time throwing it off.
It takes brute force to wrestle a heavyweight tuna so get ready for a tough offshore fight. If you’re stand-up fishing, the use of a harness will help remove the pressure from your arms, back and shoulders. Thus, giving the lower part of your body such as your legs and calves more power.
As soon as you get a hit and the reels begin to scream, you’ll know if you got a big one or not because the former has a tendency to run deep. This is a cue to clip the reel into the belt and patiently wait for the run to stop while keeping the rod tip low. Sit back into the harness whenever the fish is not pulling out line off the reel to reserve your strength and wait for your catch to lose its fighting spirit.
When you notice the tuna begin to turn in a clockwise fashion, it’s an indication that it’s starting to run out of strength. At this point, the torpedo-shaped swimmer is finding it hard to swim away from the way so it spins instead. Turn your fighting mode on and keep the pressure on it. When it loses power and turns to its right, let the rod tip drop and reel quickly to gather slack. Maintain pressure as it turns into a 12 o’clock position again and gather your line. Keep repeating this technique until it wears out and surrenders to you. If you plan to keep your catch, the crew can use a gaff to land it but stay on the rod until it is safely onboard. Then you can shift the reel into free spool when the crew has it under control. At this point, all that grueling effort is rewarded with a sense of triumph as you realize that you have accomplished your angling goal.
You can coordinate with the captain and crew on how to prepare your fish if you plan to transport it home. In case you’re wondering, the yellowfin is not only known for its fighting prowess but also for its flavor. It has a mild taste and firm texture which makes it ideal for sashimi. It can also be marinated and grilled.