Fall Topwater Yellowfin From San Pedro

flyliner

@thereelflyliner
Aug 19, 2007
1,897
2,611
Santa Monica
Name
Jonathan
Boat
31' Cabo Express
I love being out on the water in the fall, and really look forward to chasing the bigger grade yellowfin tuna that usually make an appearance within reach of us Los Angeles County based folks. Sure, you lucky San Diego guys get the volume - but what we get towards the end of the season up here tends to be a bit larger grade.

Anyway, my first offshore trip of the fall this year at the end of September did not disappoint. We found finicky schools of 50+ pound yellowfin right off the East End of Catalina and had fun getting them to eat the popper on light spinning tackle. My largest fish of that trip was right at 50 pounds.
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I went out again this past Saturday, October 5, with my buddy Joe to take another shot at locating the yellowfin. We cut in close to the East End of Catalina, but didn't see any signs of where we got them on the last trip, so we headed around the backside and started looking around.
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The water temps had really taken a dive, but there was plenty of anchovy around and eventually we found several schools of slow moving breezers. I really love the challenge of getting these breezing fish to bite the popper - and we managed to pick off a few fish.

By the afternoon, the breezers were replaced by full on foamers. Some of the schools would sink out right away, and others proved very cooperative. We found the right school and it was all you wanted on the popper. Had to take a couple time-outs to clean the deck and care for the fish - but it didn't take long to get on them again.
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For a guy that doesn't really have the desire to fish the balloon/kite for big bluefin - this is about as fun as it gets for me.

Jonathan
 
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afraser

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Apr 20, 2008
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aaron
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Nice! Can't wait to do it myself. Although you can sneak up on the schools better if you have a longer rod to cast from farther away. I personally use a 10' rod and 50lb spectra with a high speed spinning reel.

Did you only use poppers or did you try stickbaits or iron too?
 

flyliner

@thereelflyliner
Aug 19, 2007
1,897
2,611
Santa Monica
Name
Jonathan
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31' Cabo Express
Nice! Can't wait to do it myself. Although you can sneak up on the schools better if you have a longer rod to cast from farther away. I personally use a 10' rod and 50lb spectra with a high speed spinning reel.

Did you only use poppers or did you try stickbaits or iron too?
For me - I have the most fun getting fish on the popper - so if they are eating it - that's what I am fishing. Also - I have zero interest in fishing a 10 foot rod if I can catch fish on a six foot rod.
 

PaDDy Killer'

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May 9, 2008
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Santa Clarita
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Patrick
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Parker 2520 & 17' Whaler
Kicking ass on the light spinning gear & kick ass boat.
What engines and year is the boat? I just went in partners with my brothers on a '97 31' cabo express in ventura with Cats.
 

afraser

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Apr 20, 2008
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For me - I have the most fun getting fish on the popper - so if they are eating it - that's what I am fishing. Also - I have zero interest in fishing a 10 foot rod if I can catch fish on a six foot rod.

So did you try anything else, or only the popper?
 
P

Paddyman1

Hat's off, Jonathan!

I could swear you post the same pictures of the same fish every year, but that's just nonsense! Outstanding popping, dude!
 

flyliner

@thereelflyliner
Aug 19, 2007
1,897
2,611
Santa Monica
Name
Jonathan
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31' Cabo Express
So did you try anything else, or only the popper?
Only the popper - they were eating it very well.

For me, the popper is visually the most exciting way to catch a fish - so if it is working - I am sticking with it.

For the most part - all the yellowfin tuna I have found in the last 3 years have been very willing to eat the popper - this includes even those breezer schools of fish that are stuffed with anchovy already and not hungry. They still will hit the popper as a reaction bite.

With bluefin tuna - it's a different story. There seems to be schools of bluefin that are much more prone to eating the stick baits over the popper - but again - with yellowfin tuna, the popper seems to work as well if not better than the stick baits most of the time (at least for me).

In addition - yellowfin and bluefin tuna can be line shy when using stick baits. Lately - a few guys I know have been dropping down to 20 pound test to get a bite from these larger grade yellowfin tuna on the stick bait. For fish in the 50+ pound range - this usually leads to fights lasting well over an hour - with lots of casualties. No thanks.

In contrast - when fishing the popper - fish aren't line shy - so you can get away with using 50, 60, or even 80 pound if you want. We are boating these nicer fish in a few minutes. Part of the reason is the ability to fish heavier line, and part of the reason is that the tuna seem to spend more time trying to shake the popper out of their mouths than putting all their energy into the fight.
 
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tom cindric

Tom-broke-off
Jun 17, 2015
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58
Lake elsinore
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all she's got
Boat
22 key largo / 2670 Glacier Bay
That grade of yellowfin got to be one of the most beautiful fish that swim in our waters. Great photos again WTG!!!
 
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grahams98

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Jun 25, 2008
169
224
Dexter, OR
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Steve
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18 FT Ranger Chief 380
Nice! Would love to see a video of the twitch and cadence you use on the poppers. I've only fished poppers enough to know that I'm not very good at it...yet.
 
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afraser

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Apr 20, 2008
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sf, ca
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aaron
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Only the popper - they were eating it very well.

For me, the popper is visually the most exciting way to catch a fish - so if it is working - I am sticking with it.

For the most part - all the yellowfin tuna I have found in the last 3 years have been very willing to eat the popper - this includes even those breezer schools of fish that are stuffed with anchovy already and not hungry. They still will hit the popper as a reaction bite.

With bluefin tuna - it's a different story. There seems to be schools of bluefin that are much more prone to eating the stick baits over the popper - but again - with yellowfin tuna, the popper seems to work as well if not better than the stick baits most of the time (at least for me).

In addition - yellowfin and bluefin tuna can be line shy when using stick baits. Lately - a few guys I know have been dropping down to 20 pound test to get a bite from these larger grade yellowfin tuna on the stick bait. For fish in the 50+ pound range - this usually leads to fights lasting well over an hour - with lots of casualties. No thanks.

In contrast - when fishing the popper - fish aren't line shy - so you can get away with using 50, 60, or even 80 pound if you want. We are boating these nicer fish in a few minutes. Part of the reason is the ability to fish heavier line, and part of the reason is that the tuna seem to spend more time trying to shake the popper out of their mouths than putting all their energy into the fight.

Thanks for the update. That is great info. I usually fish floating stickbaits and the yft can't lay off of them. I might have to mix it up with a few more poppers. Are you adjusting the size to match the hatch, or just using the same size popper? I have them from 4" to about 12" and everything in between. For me, I've fished stickbaits with a short reel and pause, with most bite on the pause. Are you having the same results or different with the popper?
 

REELCLOSE

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Aug 14, 2012
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315
San Diego
Name
Ron
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25' Reinell
Insane! Thanks for an awesome report/pics.
 

ARTURO

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Mar 6, 2006
402
102
50
Downey, CA / Punta Chivato
Name
Arturo
Boat
22ft.Striper
Great report, and thanks for your insight on how to catch’em
I’m not a fan of catching 30 to 50lb fish on light line.
 

M5Boost

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Jan 20, 2014
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Fallbrook
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Knotwerkin'
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21 Proline, 52 Hatteras
Crank up the color saturation, and puuuush that fish into the camera. :D Nice work guys.