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May 20, 2010

Four Choice Yellowfin Tricks

When the yellowfin tuna show up in Bahamian waters, these techniques will help you score.

Joe Mahler /

2. Drop Back
As with the deep-fishing method, dropping your bait back a long way behind the boat fools the tuna into thinking the two aren't related. But wind fast when the bite comes because sharks love yellowfin too.

On another of my trips, to San Salvador in July, the yellowfin were busting all over the surface above the seamounts north of the island, but every time we approached them, they dove. After three days, we had caught only one small fish. A boat from South Carolina, however, returned each day with a full box, sending me on a fact-finding mission to their corner of the marina.

The captain had the boat rigged with a "greenstick," one of those giant vertical outriggers you often see in the Northeast. A greenstick allows you to pull baits far behind the boat from a high angle so they work as they should. These guys were catching yellowfin by dropping their baits back - way, way back.

"We put out half a spool on a 50-wide," the captain told me. "If you think you've got it out far enough, go a little farther." They were pulling naked ballyhoo rigged with a small chin weight on long fluorocarbon leaders, trolling very slowly, maybe 3 knots or so. With the baits 300 yards behind the boat, the tunas disassociated the bait and the boat and ate with abandon. The only trick is to back down like crazy after the bite to keep the sharks from getting them as you wind in all that line.