Tuna fishing is popular in the United States for a variety of reasons. For instance, tuna fish serve as nutritious and versatile food sources for many Americans. Certain types of tuna fish have developed a reputation over time as being a difficult game fish to catch. Thus, many recreational anglers are attracted to the challenge of catching this species. Landing a large Bluefin tuna, for example, is like a rite of passage for many competitive anglers.

Top tuna fish spots include saltwater environments such as the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. Other locations include the Gulf of Mexico as well as tropical and subtropical oceans throughout the world. In general, tuna fishing season is a year-round endeavor. However, certain types of tuna are only caught during certain months of the year. For instance, anglers were prohibited from catching Bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico between May and December of 2018. For additional tuna fishing tips and information about tuna, review the sections provided below.

What are the best fishing rods for catching tuna?

Anglers must be aware of the various weights and sizes of tuna fish in order to choose the appropriate fishing rod. If you are on the hunt for smaller tuna fish species, you will most likely need medium class gear. However, if you want to catch larger yellowfin and Bluefin tuna, you will need heavier rods that can withstand these fish’s weights. For instance, carbon fiber tuna fishing rods are some of the strongest rods available on the market. Thus, they recommended if you intend on catching Bluefin tuna. The following medium to heavy weight class rods are recommended for tuna fishing:

  • Spinning rods allow for easier casting during drift fishing. Drift fishing is a technique that requires the use of a trolling motor to drag baits across a body of water.
  • Stand-up rods yield easy docking while trolling or still-fishing. The docking of a rod can be particularly beneficial if you are fishing for an extended period of time.
  • Heavy casting rods between 6 to 7 feet are sufficient for you to catch tuna.

What are the best fishing reels for catching tuna?

Tuna fishing gear is not complete without the right reel. In general, tuna fishing rods and reels are sold as a set, which is both user friendly and affordable. However, some rods and reels are sold separately, making it important for you to know which reel suits each rod. These are the most recommended reels for tuna fishing:

  • Spinning reels are best-suited if you are using a spinning rod.
  • Heavy casting reels capable of catching fish between 50 and 80 pounds are optimal when using heavy casting rods.
  • Torque reels should be used for larger tuna that weigh over 100 pounds.

What are the best fishing lures for catching tuna?

The best tuna fishing lures are the ones that attract a tuna’s attention by imitating the movements of its prey. The best tuna fishing lures available on the market include:

  • Jigs
  • Trolling lures
  • Feathers

What are the best fishing baits for catching tuna?

Some of the best tuna fish bait options are smaller fish that this species is fond of preying on. Moreover, drift fishing with a mixture of fish, squid and soft lures is a common practice to catch a tuna’s attention. Below is a list of popular tuna fish live bait options:

  • Squid
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Ballyhoo
  • Crab

What are the best fishing hooks for catching tuna?

Tuna fishing hooks come in various shapes and sizes. In general, your tuna fishing hook needs to match the size of the lure or bait you are using. In addition, hooks must have enough strength hold a large tuna. For instance, tuna fishing hooks made from stainless steel are often very durable and recommended for beginners. Moreover, the following are popular tuna fishing hooks for all learning levels:

When purchasing any of these fishing hooks, be sure to buy variety packs that come with different sizes and diameters. This can make your fishing style more versatile and allow you to be prepared for fish of all sizes.

What are the best fishing lines for catching tuna?

Tuna fishing lines are responsible for holding an entire fishing rig together. Thus, a sturdy and reliable line is required for anglers who intend on catching big game fish like Bluefin tuna. There are a variety of different fishing lines available. For tuna fishing, the following lines are considered the best:

  • Spectra lines with 40- to 80-pound weight test are optimal for catching even the largest Bluefin tuna.
  • Fluorocarbon lines with a 40-pound weight test are well-suited for catching small to medium tuna. In addition, an 80-pound weight test fluorocarbon line is best-suited for Bluefin tuna over 500 pounds.
  • Braided lines with 30- to 40-pound weight test are sufficient for catching small- to medium-sized tuna. In general, these lines are strong enough to handle even 100 pound tuna fish, but may falter if you try landing larger fish.
  • Monofilament lines with 20- to 30-pound weight test should only be used on smaller tuna. These lines are typically not made to withstand long struggles with big fish.

As a general tuna fishing tip, it is better to have strong, resilient lines capable of handling the power of Bluefin and yellowfin tuna than to worry about a line’s underwater visibility.

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Is it easy to catch tuna?

Tuna fishing is revered as one of the most challenging types of sport fishing. Bluefin tuna are particularly difficult to catch, as they are large, strong and fast fish. In general, tuna fish have been considered prized game fish since the official inception of big game fishing. As such, tuna are not a recommended species for beginners to catch due to the activity’s high level of difficulty.

In addition, fishermen must keep in mind that many tuna fish species, including the Bluefin tuna, are considered endangered species. Therefore, anglers are only able to catch these species during a tuna fishing season. Moreover, fishing enthusiasts will likely be required to release Bluefin tuna back into the water after catching them.

What should you wear to go tuna fishing?

There is no specific tuna fishing gear that you need to wear for your tuna fishing trip. However, there are a few items that can make your tuna fishing endeavor much easier. The following fishing apparel will make your trip easier and safer:

  • Waterproof boat shoes
  • Fishing vest
  • Water resistant clothing
  • Sun glasses

A vest is the most essential item to add to a tuna fishing apparel. For instance, a tuna fishing vest can be helpful during moments when you cannot let go of your rod and reel. Your vest will allow you quick and easy access to essential tools, such as extra hooks or more line. Moreover, boat shoes can also provide you with a good grip on the boat floor. Thus, these shoes help give you gain traction as you reel in a large tuna.

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Where can I catch tuna?

Tuna fish can be found in most of the world’s major oceans and migrate long distances throughout the year. However, there are a few tuna fish spots that have a consistent tuna fish population during every fishing season. Here are a few tuna fishing hotspots in and out of the United States:

  • Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  • San Diego, California
  • Venice, Louisiana
  • Outer Banks, North Carolina
  • Kona, Hawaii
  • Bahamas
  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Good tuna fishing tips while fishing in these locations include to try and fish at either dusk or dawn. The darker lighting during these times mean that tuna are less likely to see fishing lines and more likely to bite a hook.

Which types of habitats can I find tuna in?

Tuna fish are highly migratory species that can most often be found in open oceans. Because each tuna fish species has a preferred water temperature, they migrate during different seasons to waters that accommodate their needs. The following are the most common tuna fish species and their preferred habitats:

  • Albacore tuna – The albacore tuna can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. In general, they favor tropic, subtopic and temperate waters.
  • Skipjack tuna – Skipjack tuna are most often found in the South Tropical Atlantic. Additionally, they inhabit other tropical and subtropical areas in the Pacific and Indian oceans.
  • Bigeye tuna – Bigeye tuna are often found off the coast of Hawaii and are a very popular game fish in the area. They are found in almost all tropical and temperate oceans except for the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, these fish particularly enjoy residing in the lower depths of an ocean when the temperatures allow.
  • Bluefin tuna – The Pacific Bluefin tuna is most often found in the North Pacific Ocean, ranging from East Asia to the Western United States. These tuna fish prefer temperate waters, but can also be found in more tropical and coastal locations on occasion. In addition, Atlantic Bluefin tuna reside in the Western Atlantic, from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico. Both of these species migrate often and cover large stretches of open ocean each year.
  • Yellowfin tuna – The yellowfin tuna are highly migratory and can be found throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans during summer months. They prefer tropical and subtropical waters, with the exception of the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, these fish like to reside in deeper parts of the ocean, reaching depths of up to 250 miles.

Are there different types of tuna fish?

There are various types of tuna fish around the world. Common types of tuna include the following:

  • Atlantic skipjack tuna
  • Pacific Bluefin tuna
  • North Atlantic albacore tuna
  • Atlantic yellowfin tuna
  • Pacific yellowfin tuna
  • Atlantic bigeye tuna
  • Pacific albacore tuna
  • Western Atlantic Bluefin tuna
  • Pacific skipjack tuna

What do tuna look like?

Each type of tuna fish is somewhat different in appearance. For a brief tuna fishing description, review the following information:

  • Albacore tuna are typically large in size. This species can reach up to four feet in length and weigh up to 88 pounds. In addition, albacore tuna have exceptionally large pectoral fins. This type of tuna has dark blue backs and silvery-white sides.
  • Skipjack tuna are fish with without many scales. However, they do have scales running along their sides and a band of scales behind their heads. Additionally, skipjack tuna fish have dark purplish backs and silvery-white sides.
  • Bigeye tuna have dark metallic blue backs and upper sides with white lower sides and bellies. Additionally, the fins on their back are pale yellow.
  • Bluefin tuna are large, torpedo-shaped fish. This species can reach up to 13 feet in length and weigh more than 2,000 lbs. Moreover, this tuna has a dark blue back and a silvery-white lower side and belly. In general, the Bluefin species is the largest among the types of tuna.
  • Yellowfin tuna are torpedo-shaped tuna fish with metallic blue backs and upper sides with yellow-silver bellies. As the name implies, their tail and dorsal fins are yellow.

What do tuna eat?

What a tuna fish eats relies heavily upon the smaller fish in the area. Most types of tuna fish prey on a variety of other fish, such as herrings, mackerel and bluefish and sometimes even other tuna. However, tuna also eat crustaceans, mollusks and cephalopods. Some tuna fish favorites include:

  • Squid
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Red crabs
  • Krill
  • Saury
  • Pompanos
  • Hake
  • Other small fish

Are there regulations for catching tuna?

Most types of tuna fish are regulated due to the fact that they are highly valued as food or for sport purposes around the world. In general, the most heavily regulated species is the Atlantic Bluefin tuna, which is the most prized type of tuna. These tuna fish are found in the West Atlantic from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico. On a federal level, all fish are regulated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, different state may have their own regulations regarding tuna species and tuna fishing season, such as:

  • In the states surrounding the Gulf of Mexico, recreational anglers may only catch 3 yellowfin tuna per day.
  • Florida anglers must acquire a “Highly Migratory Species Angling Permit” to catch Bluefin, bigeye, albacore, yellowfin or skipjack tuna.

In general, the NOAA has established Bluefin tuna fish regulations that prohibit recreational anglers from keeping any caught specimen. Thus, every Bluefin tuna must be returned to the ocean. However, different seasons and locations may see exceptions to this rule. Before you head out during tuna fishing season, be sure to review all the state and federal regulations. Additionally, be sure to apply for a fishing permit, if necessary.

When is tuna season?

Because tuna fish typically inhabit federal waters, the fishing seasons regarding these species are generally similar across states. The following periods of time must be taken into consideration:

  • Atlantic skipjack tuna fishing takes place from late summer through early fall.
  • The peak season for North Atlantic albacore is during the fall.
  • Tuna fishing season for Pacific albacore tuna typically takes place between late spring and late fall.
  • A yellowfin tuna fishing season starts in the early summer and ends in the early fall.
  • Pacific Bluefin tuna can be caught between the months of May and October.
  • Atlantic Bluefin tuna can be caught between June and November.

The Bluefin and yellowfin species are highly regulated types of tuna fish. The federal government aims to protect these species from overfishing practices. Thus, anglers must always check local and federal fishery policies for quotas and further regulations surrounding these fish.

Can you eat tuna?

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Tuna fish is a popular type of seafood in the United States due to its convenience, versatility and health benefits. However, certain types of tuna are healthier than others. For instance, canned skipjack tuna contains lower mercury levels in comparison to the yellowfin and bigeye species.

Click here to download our guide on the most satisfying tuna recipes.

What are the nutrition facts for tuna?

Tuna fish is a nutritious source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, canned types of light tuna are only healthy when consumed no more than three times per week. For three ounces of cooked tuna fish, the nutrition facts are as follows:

  • 130 Calories (6.5 percent daily value)
  • 5 grams of Total Fat (2 percent daily value)
  • 0 grams of Saturated Fat (0 percent daily value)
  • 50 milligrams of Cholesterol (17 percent daily value)
  • 40 milligrams of Sodium (2 percent daily value)
  • 26 grams of Protein (52 percent daily value)
Nutrition Facts
Amount Per 100g
Calories
144
7.2% of Daily Value*
Total Fat 4.9g
8%
Saturated Fat 1.25g
less than 6% of Daily Value
Cholesterol 38mg
13%
Sodium 39mg
2%
Selenium 36.5mcg
52%
Protein 23.33g
47%
* The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.