Trolling for Yellowfin would have to be without doubt one of my favourite fishing experiences. There’s something about waiting for the screaming run, of a lure caught Yellowfin, that makes 1, 2 or even 8 hrs of trolling all worthwhile.
The majority of my experience fishing for Yellowfin Tuna has been from Sydney and Wollongong NSW. The places we normally venture are Browns Mountain, the Southern Canyons and Kiama Canyons. On a normal day we launch at 4:30am and head out to shelf in the darkness. As soon as the sun rises we’d deploy our spread of lures.
Trolling for Yellowfin really isn’t all that hard. Given the right gear and a bit of local knowledge anyone with a seaworthy boat can catch Yellowfin Tuna.
We start, the day before, by selecting our lures for the day’s trip. I’d normally take my trusty 2-3 lures that always work along with a few others to try out. Each fisherman has his favourite lures but for me I wouldn’t leave the ramp without a Purple Screamer, a Lumo Kingie Jet and my Trusty old Halco Trembler in Orange. The lures I usually run are quite small which means a by-catch of Striped Tuna are common, but I don’t mind as they make great snapper bait. But don’t worry; my biggest Yellowfin to date was on a 6inch lure.
The next thing to consider is where you are going to fish. In the days leading up to your trip it really pays to ring people who have been fishing. If you don’t know anyone that fishes for Yellowfin Tuna the best thing you can do is join a Game Fishing Club. Within 2 minutes of anyone catching Yellowfin you can be assured that the sms pictures have passed around the whole club and any member will be able to tell you where they’re on the chew.
Once you’re out on the water there are two methods you can take. The first is to just head out a few miles and deploy your lures, then troll to where you want to go. This method is a bit flawed in that you waste valuable time covering no-mans land. Personally I like to get within about 2nm of the fishing spot and then I would slow to a troll speed and deploy the lures.
It pays to have 4-5 good game outfits to troll with so you can run different lures, but in the beginning just make do with whatever you have. Once I started to know what I was doing, we would regularly troll 6-7 rods from a trailer boat. The excitement when you hit a big school of Yellowfin and you have multiple rods buckling under the weight of a steam train tuna will make your heart race.
As for lure spreads and positions I am no expert I run a big lure on the shotgun way back behind the spread, a Trembler or other diver just behind the prop wash and the other skirted lures I just set so they have a good action and won’t tangle.
As for a teaser, my favourite is a chain of Bird Teasers. Another great one is prism floats, and the great thing about them is they are cheap as chips and work! Run your teaser off the back corner of your boat, just behind the prop wash. Don’t be surprised if you see tuna trying to eat it.
Once you have the rods set and you are heading for your fishing spot keep your eyes peeled for birds. Any birds that are circling or diving will almost always mean schools of bait and where there is bait, there are predators.
Circle any bait schools along the edge of them but don’t cut through them. Yellowfin can easily be spooked and if you interrupt their feeding they are likely to disappear. Just run the edges of any schools, the fish will soon find you.
If you don’t see any schools don’t worry. Just get to your fishing spot and troll the general area. We normally stay within a 3-4mile area just covering different spots until we get a hit. We then stay tight in that area until the fish stop biting.
Having your VHF or 27MHZ radio turned on the local game channel and listening to other game fisherman can be a big help to get into the right zone, most guys out wide will gladly help a fellow fisherman find the fish.
The #1 factor to catching Yellowfin Tuna is time on the water. You might go out and not turn a reel all day, but the very next day in the same spot you could catch 10 fish. My best day out we boated 22 Yellowfin Tuna in under 2 hrs Trolling off Sydney, but I have also spent many hours trolling for zero.
I hope this gives you a little help, in searching out and catching, Yellowfin Tuna. Now just get your lures, fuel up the boat and go fishing.