Landing a Tuna

By: Daniel Eggertsen

Fishing for tuna can be a challenging, yet rewarding adventure. Tunas are very fast swimmers - some have been clocked moving as fast as 48 miles per hour. In addition, there are several species of tuna that are warm-blooded.

Unlike most fish species, which have white flesh, the flesh of the tuna is pink to dark red. This is because tuna muscle tissue contains greater quantities of myoglobin, an oxygen-binding molecule. Tuna has become a popular fish to eat, particularly in canned form. Most of the canned light tuna is skipjack tuna and is relatively inexpensive.

Fishing for tuna has long been a popular recreational activity. In the 1930s and the 1940s, bluefin tuna were abundant in the waters off the Florida coast and were sought by the likes of Ernest Hemingway. However, despite the popularity of the growing sport, the boats of that day were not properly equipped to fight the fish. In recent decades, the arrival of more custom built vessels has given new life to the sport of tuna fishing. Fishing for tuna largely depends on what specific type of tuna is being sought.

Albacore Tuna inhabit the western coast of the United States on a seasonal basis, specifically between the middle of June and the end of October. Their normal range typically spans from Baja, California all the way up to Oregon. Albacore have even been spotted as far north as the central Alaskan coast and as far south as tropical Mexico. During the rest of the year, they migrate to Japan and then return to California.

Albacore generally prefer deep waters and sea temperatures that are above 58 degrees Fahrenheit. As far as bait is concerned, Albacore typically feed mainly on small fish (such as anchovies and sardines). However, squid and small shrimp also make up important parts of their diet. Also, Albacore will often usually feed on what is available at the time.

During a good year, Albacore can be found within five to ten miles of the west coast - meaning that fishermen will not have far to go to have a shot at landing some of this type of tuna.

However, during off years, Albacore can be over 100 miles offshore. One way for fishermen to get an advantage on the Albacore is to study the sea surface temperature maps for warm/colder water gradients. This because Albacore follow the warm currents along the California coast.

Also, anglers should try to troll the warm side with feather jigs and plugs. When one of the trolling rigs gets hit, that is the time to circle around the school and cast live sardines or anchovies. Many times, chumming with live bait can entice the school of Albacore to the surface.

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