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Dodging Storms and Catching Yellowfins

HurricaneBKHurricaneBK Senior MemberPosts: 213 Deckhand
We had a great trip to the Bahamas last weekend, my first chance to get over there and chase some (not so) elusive yellowfins. With great reports from The Channel, we decided to brave a marginal weather window and make the crossing. The first three quarters of our crossing were excellent, smooth seas and sunny blue skies but we paused for a moment to check out a group of paddle boarders crossing from Bimini to somewhere in South Florida and the skies darkened and gave us a taste of what we were in for for the next 36 hours.

Slogged our way North of Bimini toward Isaac's, keeping a large storm to our East and giving us a little time to do some deep dropping around Isaac's while that storm cleared. Our furuno radar proved it can do more than find tuna birds from miles away and helped us keep track of the worst of the storms in the area while we ran to where we've caught tuna in the past. I'd usually say that an overcast day is a good thing when tuna fishing as they're more likely to come to the surface and feed earlier in the day, but I would have traded our overcast 15kt winds and sloppy 2-3s for flat calm and sunny in a heartbeat.

Sloppy sea conditions also tend to make it a little more difficult to distinguish birds from waves on the radar although we ended managing to find and successfully fish three flocks. While I like to believe most flocks of birds that have tuna on them probably have yellowfins, and have to urge everyone I'm fishing with to be patient, the yellowfins will bite eventually, our first two flocks must have been all blackfins. I was fishing a vertical jig as I've had a lot of success with them before and paired with the right rod and spinner it's just an easy setup to use and catch fish with. I could hardly put it in the water without catching a 20lb blackfin and the rest of the crew using live pilchards was literally in the same boat - we quickly had to start throwing blackfin back, any of which would have been a nice catch on this side of the stream. Fast forwarding through a lot of blackfin and a lot of pilchards set free in 3,000 feet of water, we decided to move in the hopes of finding a different flock.

We actually found a second flock of birds but they were on a massive pod of spinner dolphins that put on a show for us. Short video of them linked below

Our third or maybe fourth flock of the day ended up being the right one. Again we caught blackfins for almost an hour, at time all 6 of us aboard were hooked up, but we had had a few larger fish hit and lost them for various reasons so we kind of knew yellowfins were there it was just a matter of getting a bait past the blackfins and hooking into one. We had caught a few smaller yellowfins in the 30lb range but were still looking for a larger one when we got a nice hit which acted like the right fish. After about 15 minutes the hook pulled and we set out more baits in the hopes of coaxing another one. Almost immediately we hooked up on another large yellowfin and put this one in the boat after a tense 20 minute fight, a solid fish for The Channel. We probably could have stayed and caught a few more, perhaps the blackfins were full? If that's even possible... But it was getting dark and we had a 30 mile run to our hotel in Lucaya and we were all pretty beat from a long day on a rough ocean.

Fished a couple flocks on the way home in the morning, more blackfins - who would have ever guessed :rotflmao
I was testing out some new vertical/flutter jigs I had made and they were certainly effective at catching blackfins, since we didn't have live bait the next morning, the jigs are a good way to kind of see what's going on while you create a chunk line. Hoping to avoid some storms and make it home with some ice left we left a couple flocks that might have held yellowfins to make the run home. Roughly 25 miles off Boca we ran into one of the most intense feeding frenzies I've ever seen. Acres of skipjacks were feeding on glass minnows, complete with a whale shark joining in to gorge itself as well. A short video of the skipjacks, we never got close enough for a decent video of the whale shark. A little disappointed we couldn't find anything bigger lurking below the skipjacks, besides more blackfins caught on jigs, as there were literally thousands of them feeding on the surface.
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