5 Tuna Fishing Season Facts You Need To Know

By Debbie Hanson

May 16, 2017

Find out how tuna fishing season is regulated, where to catch bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna. Learn when to try your luck at catching one of these giant fish.

Photo Credit: Daniel Andrews

If you're an offshore angler who loves an adrenaline rush, you may be counting down the days until tuna fishing season is underway. Few saltwater species can provide the same type of challenge and thrill that these powerful pelagic fish can. Whether you want to catch bluefin tuna off the coast of New England or yellowfin tuna while on vacation in Hawaii, one thing is for certain; tuna fishing is not for the faint of heart.

Before you board a sportfishing boat for a bluefin tuna fishing trip or yellowfin tuna fishing trip, you need to know these five facts about tuna fishing season.

  1. Bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna are highly migratory species that are regulated on the federal level by the National Marine Fisheries Service. This means that federal regulations apply in state waters. If you want to learn how to fish for tuna, you need to know the federal regulations that apply to these species.
  2. There are two species of bluefin tuna that are targeted in the United States: the Atlantic bluefin tuna and the Pacific bluefin tuna.
  3. Atlantic bluefin tuna season runs between June and November along the Eastern North American seaboard, while Pacific bluefin tuna are generally caught off the coast of California between May and October.
  4. Yellowfin tuna are primarily caught off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Southern California, and Hawaii during the summer or early fall months.
  5. Fishing between dusk and dawn is best when targeting tuna. Without the light of day, it's easier to increase the weight of your tackle without the sharp eyes of a tuna becoming wise to the situation. Heavier tackle can greatly improve your chances of landing one of these intensely hard fighting fish. Use a 50 to 80-pound class conventional reel (use the larger size for bluefin tuna) and 6 to 7-foot heavy rod for trolling.

Before your first tuna fishing trip of the year, make sure you've finished your tuna season homework. Be aware of any regulations updates, buy your saltwater fishing license online, and don't forget to bring along heavy offshore tackle for fishing tuna.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.