• Published:May 6, 2020
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All offshore anglers have an affinity for yellowfin tuna.

Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) fall under the Scrombridae family of tunas. Often called 'ahi' in Hawaii (and in sushi restaurants), the yellowfin is also referred to as Allison tuna, an old name originated by the curator of the Bermuda Aquarium, Louis Mowbray, in the early 1900s.

The yellowfin tuna inhabits warm waters throughout the world's oceans, often favoring deep oceanic areas. Although capable of making deep dives, yellowfin spend the majority of their time in the top 300 feet, usually above the thermocline. The migratory species is known to make long migrations, which range from relatively close to shore to hundreds of miles offshore. The yellowfin tuna's diet is varied and depends on what's available. They will feed on flying fish, squid, crustaceans and a range of small fish, including other tuna. The yellowfin is known to school primarily by size, either in monospecific or multi-species groups. Larger fish frequently school with porpoises, also associated with floating debris and other objects. Peak spawning occurs during the summer months. Yellowfin are estimated to live up to seven years or more. DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS Yellowfin tuna are the most colorful of all the tunas, with a dark black back, silver sides and a bright yellow strip running up its flank. The fins and finlets are golden yellow, and sometimes edged with silver. The fish's belly frequently shows up to 20 vertical rows of white spots. The yellowfin tuna can be distinguished from other tunas by the overextended second dorsal and anal fins found on large fish. However, these large fins don't always show up in all specimens. Yellowfin can be distinguished from blackfin tuna by the black margins on its finlets. Blackfin tuna, like albacore, have white margins on the finlets. Yellowfin are often confused with bigeye tuna. The only true way to tell the difference between a yellowfin and a bigeye is to look at the animal's liver. The bigeye tuna has a lack of striations on the ventral surface of the liver. The bigeye also has a larger eyeball, and smaller second dorsal and anal fins.

TARGETING YELLOWFIN Catching large yellowfin tuna typically entails a long run, some live bait and top-notch tackle. Tuna over 300 pounds are affectionately called "cows" by the fleet of long-range boats out of San Diego, that specialize in making multi-day trips to fish the offshore islands and banks south of the border. Catching a 400-pound yellowfin remained a quest just outside recreational fishing's reach for decades. In 1977, angler Curt Wiesenhutter landed a 388-pound tuna that held the all tackle world record for more than 30 years. Many felt this fish may never be beat. Sure, crews had seen yellowfin tuna estimated over 400 pounds, but actually landing one of that size remained a goal that every tuna hunter sought. Everything changed in 2010 when Mike Livingston caught a 405.2-pound yellowfin aboard the Vagabond. This fish was approved by the IGFA and took the title as the largest yellowfin ever caught on rod and reel in accordance to IGFA rules. By the run of giant yellowfin didn't end there. Fishing way offshore aboard the Tenacious in early 2012, in legal waters near the Tres Marias Islands in between Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Ronnie Tegland hauled in a massive yellowfin that devoured a kite bait. The cow tuna measured 90 inches long with a girth of 62 inches. The fish was estimated at 430 pounds, but we will never know it's true weight. The crew had no intention of applying for a world record. They bled the fish out and jammed it in the fish box. Tegland's fish was followed by a 427.9-pound yellowfin caught in Puerto Vallarta by Robert Pedigo. The mate had grabbed the rod so this fish was not submitted for a world record.
In September 2012, the world record fell yet again when Guy Yocom caught another monster yellowfin tuna in Mexico. This time, everything was done in accordance with IGFA rules and Yocom took the world record.
In September 2012, the world record fell yet again when Guy Yocom caught another monster yellowfin tuna in Mexico. This time, everything was done in accordance with IGFA rules and Yocom took the world record, and also walked off with $1 million from Mustad Hooks for landing the giant on a Mustad Hook. The run of big fish didn't end there. On a 16-day trip aboard the Excel, out of San Diego, John Petruescu hauled in a 445-pound behemoth yellowfin tuna. Although ineligible for a world record, this 445-pounder is by far the largest, most impressive yellowfin ever landed on rod and reel, and it was caught from a dead boat. CONSERVATION As one of the most valuable food fish in the ocean, commercial purse seiners and longliners seek yellowin tuna for big paydays. Yellowfin tuna has become one of the most popular fish served today. You'll see it on restaurant menus around the world served up grilled or raw as sashimi. It is also canned. Because yellowfin tuna populations are dispersed throughout the world, it's nearly impossible to get an accurate population assessment. The species is often categorized as "near threatened." Yellowfin require international cooperation to manage the resource. The United States is an active member of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and negotiates with other nations on the management of yellowfin, along with billfish, swordfish and sharks. The bulk of Atlantic yellowfin tuna are caught off West Africa. FISHING TECHNIQUES