How to win a battle against a big tuna

The yellowfin tuna was designed by nature with a streamlined body capable of traversing the seas in a high-speed fashion. You can recognize it by its metallic dark blue color on the back, yellow sides and a silver belly. Its long, bright yellow anal and dorsal fins plus bright yellow finlets that stretch from the top to bottom side of its body make it stand out in the water. They like to feast on a variety of fish, squid, shrimp, lobster, crabs, cuttlefish, and octopus. Their voracious appetite helps them grow up to 2 m in length and reach staggering weights up to 400 kg.

If you’re dreaming of hooking a huge yellowfin tuna in Cabo San Lucas, the perfect time to make your aspiration come true is now. The yellowfin tuna season in Cabo ends this December so take advantage of the remaining weeks to catch yourself a big one.

Here are tips and techniques to prepare you for an ultimate adrenaline-pumping challenge at sea.

Prep your body and mind

Fighting a 100-plus-pound tuna requires strength, stamina and perseverance. No doubt, it will put your fishing skills and physical endurance to the test. Before your fishing trip, make sure that you get a full night’s sleep to store enough energy for your angling adventure.

Sportfishing is like an intense workout so prep yourself before tackling a heavyweight tuna. When stretching, it’s advisable to focus on big muscle groups like the hamstring, quads, calves, and hip flexors which you will be relying on when you are trying to pull in a huge one. A good warm-up will safely prepare your body for the increased demands of game fishing and help prevent lactic acid buildup and muscle injuries. Don’t forget to perform cooling down exercises after a tiring match at sea to gradually bring your exhausted body to resting level.

Gear up for a tough battle

Thanks to the latest advancements in build materials, you now have other options aside from the solid‑fiberglass stand-up rod to fight a big yellowfin tuna. For many years, the all-fiberglass rods have shaped a reputation of having maximum durability which is why many enthusiastic anglers have stuck to their favorites including Pen International V stand-ups, Star Aerials, Calstar West Coast series, and others.

It’s always good to have an alternative so you might find it interesting that the modern 50 to 80-pound-class conventional reels are getting smaller, becoming lighter, and gaining better action to withstand long fights.

In the past 10 years, composite rods made of fiberglass and graphite (carbon fiber) have become increasingly popular because of the combination of fiberglass strength and sensitivity of graphite. The graphite composition in modern rods helps keep the weight down while the fiberglass maintains its durability.

The good thing about Cabo San Lucas fishing charters is that they provide the latest fishing equipment to increase your odds of getting your targeted fish. You can coordinate with the crew  if you want to know ahead of time what kind of angling equipment they have on board.

A fighting belt will give you better odds of subduing a big yellowfin and most boats are fitted with  at least one with them. Your captain or a crew member can help you get familiar with the belt and pad before the reeling action begins so you can determine if necessary adjustments should be made. Wait until the tuna is solidly hooked and pulling drag before placing the rod in the belt and clipping it in. When fighting the fish, you should feel all the force shifted by the harness from your hips down. The belt must be positioned around your backside and not the small of your back.

Baits and techniques that work

You need to choose the perfect bait if you want to entice a big tuna to bite. Yellowfins can be caught using natural baits, artificial baits, or a combination. The classic ballyhoo-and-skirt combo is favored for its high striking rate. When it comes to top skirt colors, popular combinations are blue-and-white, pink-and-white, and chartreuse-and-white. Black-and-red or red-and-pink also work especially on cloudy days or you can go for a simple naked ballyhoo rig.

Another option is adding a bird or spreader bar followed by a squid which is a favorite treat of yellowfins. It is recommended to match the size of the bait to the size of the available forage. The ideal speed for trolling is six knots and when you get a hit, it’s advisable to continue trolling since the yellowfin tuna hunts in packs. This means that it’s possible for every rod to go down and the more rods, the bigger the chances of hooking more fish.

Have you witnessed a tuna blow up on a surface bait? It’s definitely very exciting to watch so if you come across a school feeding, you can cast lures that are quick to retrieve such as topwater poppers into them. Topwater poppers can cover water quickly and trigger reaction strikes.

Putting out a chum trail consisting of fish parts, bone and blood is another technique to entice yellowfin tuna from the depths to the surface. Chunking, the process of cutting chunks of a large bait fish and tossing them over the side of the boat is also effective in bringing the species out. Strategically place a circle hook in one of the chunks and let it drift naturally with no drag. When the fish takes a bite, you’ll know you got a hit because it is likely to take off in a jiff and run deep. This is the time to engage the reel and allow the hook to slide into the corner of its mouth. When it is latched on, the big tuna will have a hard time throwing the hook off. This is an opportunity to clip the reel into the belt and wait for the tuna to stop running. Keep the rod tip low while waiting for the fish to halt and reserve your strength by sitting back into the harness whenever the fish is not pulling out line off the reel. A good indication that the yellowfin is running out of juice is when you notice it beginning to spin clockwise. This is a critical point so maintain your focus in keeping the pressure. When its energy dwindles and the fish turns to its right, let the rod tip drop and reel quickly to gather slack. Maintain the pressure and gather your line as it reaches the 12 o’clock position. Just continue doing this cycle until you completely overpower your opponent and the crew gets it with a gaff.

Feel an extraordinary sense of accomplishment when your prized catch is on board and you can finally tick the yellowfin from your bucket list.

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