The annual yellowfin tuna migration is in full swing. With the influence of warm oceanic waters along the Pacific, Gulf, and Atlantic coastlines, this variety of tuna is within reach for those who enjoy saltwater sports fishing. For anglers to land the big one, you won’t find these ocean beasts near the shore. But, rather, in schools in areas with deep pockets or drop-offs from the coast. To help you out, here is a list of the seven places to catch yellowfin tuna.

1. Catalina Island, California

Chances are, when you think of the sunny beaches of California, your mind doesn’t immediately wonder about yellowfin tuna. Just off the coast of Long Beach is the Catalina Island Essential Fish Habitat Conservation Area. This tuna haven attracts bait fish like sardines and mackerel that school around the deep cliffs. Alternatively, the kelp beds can be found in abundance and serve as a jigging point for yellowfin schools. If you are a tuna enthusiast, the Catalina Islands are simply a must-see for large fish of 40 lbs or more.

2. New England

The Atlantic coastline along the New England states offers an abundance of yellowfin tuna without all the boat traffic. Historically, places like Cape Cod and Long Island have been the go-to places for deep drop-offs. But, there is also a dropoff from New Jersey to Maryland that is approximately 50 miles from shore. This area has a myriad of names among fishermen, but one thing is for certain, catching a trophy is possible. Trolling and chumming is the preferred method for landing a yellowfin tuna, here. Although, if the sea isn’t churning, consider chumming and jigging off the bottom.

3. Oahu, Hawaii


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Have you ever heard of the poke bowl that Hawaii is infamous for? This Polynesian dish utilizes the star ingredient of yellowfin tuna, better known among locals as “ahi tuna.” Yellowfin tuna season is open longer in Hawaii than in other states, with a hearty hatchery. Anglers use dolphins as a means of locating yellowfin tuna in deeper waters since they piggyback off feeding on baitfish. Oahu is of note for curious anglers as the state record of 325 lbs was caught off these shores, but the average yellowfin is around 125 lbs. Speaking of which, the best way to catch a yellowfin is to chum and troll with bountiful options for baitfish everywhere, regardless of where you cast.

4. The Florida Keys

Nevertheless, with so many sport fish options for yellowfin tuna, these monsters usually come as an accidental catch when targeting sailfish or dolphinfish. The current Florida state record was caught in Key West and was an astonishing 240 lbs. When you put your line in, expect the unexpected in the Florida Keys.

5. Venice, Louisiana

Found near the Mississippi Delta and just outside of New Orleans is the small community of Venice. This fishing community is nicknamed “Tuna Town” for the shockingly high numbers that visit the Louisiana coast. Located about 20 miles offshore is the local hotspot known as the Midnight Lump. This salt dome rises from 600 feet to 200 feet and allows anglers to target yellowfin tuna at a shallower depth. The area also draws a plethora of wahoo and mako sharks, which further adds to its appeal.

6. San Diego, California

sea waves crashing on shore during golden hour

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Of all the game fish that can be caught along the coast of San Diego, yellowtail tuna is the most plentiful. On average, fish here are about 25-45 lbs, but can grow to be much larger. The summer months turn out to be the most accessible when targeting this species, with tuna caught within hours of San Diego Bay. Although chumming and trolling are preferred, anglers have flaunted catching these fish with nothing more than a topwater lure. When yellowfin tuna can get up to speeds of 50 mph, then this is a catch to get the heart pumping.

7. Outer Banks, North Carolina

In the summer months, Cape Hatteras attracts yellowfin tuna traveling the Gulfstream. This is just one of many locations found along North Carolina’s Outer Banks, which are well tested for this species. Another location that might be of interest to anglers is Oregon Inlet. But what both of these locations have in common is the proximity to the warm Florida waters that jet north, carrying tuna. More so, there are several wrecks found along the Outer Banks that house baitfish. This means hungry tuna are surely around the corner.

Yelling “Fish on” For Yellowfin

Yellowfin tuna can present anglers with an unexpected and delightful catch. But when one is on your line, be prepared for a fight that can last hours. Grab yourself a fighting belt and slowly wear these creatures out. However, as a word of caution, it should be known that even when exhausted, this fish jolt to the side in a last-ditch effort to snap the line. Now that you know the best places to target yellowfin tuna, it’s only a matter of getting out and catching one for yourself.