California Yellowtail

Known to exceed 80 pounds in weight, California yellowtail are powerful fighters that make full use of their muscular bodies and large, forked tails.

Often called mossbacks, California yellowtail are most abundant in subtropical Pacific waters off southern California and Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, but populations have also been found off South Africa, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Hawaii and Easter Island. And in the Eastern Pacific, their range extends from the coast of Canada's British Columbia south to Chile. 


Known to exceed 80 pounds in weight, California yellowtail are powerful fighters that make full use of their muscular bodies and large, forked tails in their attempts to break free from hooks and fishing lines. They feed on a variety of small fish, like mackerel, sardines, anchovies and smelt, but squid, crabs and other small marine life are also part of their diet. 

Though usually found around offshore islands, rocky reefs, and kelp beds, California yellowtail often come within casting range of shorebound anglers. And during summer, they frequently seek out cover and forage under floating kelp paddies offshore.