Tuna thick off the mouth of the Mississippi River

Yellowfin are as close to 30 miles out, charter guide says.

After a summer of finicky tuna fishing, the larger yellowfin have finally started to make their way into anglers’ ice chests with more consistency, and the landing of a pending state-record proves there are monsters out there.

Capt. Damon McKnight has been going out of Tiger Pass and has been finding lots of action.

“It’s been really good for the past three to four weeks,” the Super Strike Charters captain said. “We’ve been catching the bigger ones 25 to 30 miles out of Tiger Pass; the smaller yellowfin tend to stay out by the floaters.

“I’ve been catching tuna averaging 125 to 140 pounds 30 miles out.”

Click here to read about the pending state-record yellowfin tuna.

McKnight said many of his tuna are caught around shrimp boats in the open water, but they are not necessary for catching tuna in this area.

“We’ll go out and see seven trawl boats one day, then go out the next and see none,” he explained. “It’s really hit or miss; this year we just tried chunking in open water just out of necessity, and we started catching open water tuna.”

Taking the time to catch live bait is lucrative because switching techniques often is necessary to land yellowfin, but McKnight said his larger tuna are produced more often by chumming and drifting cut pogie and bonita.

“Trial and error is key,” he said. “Try jigging and chumming in open water if you want to skip catching live bait. And tuna anglers should always check the barometric pressure and altimetry; low pressure causes upwells that bring the plankton farther to the top.

“The small fish come to eat the plankton, and then larger baitfish come to eat those fish, which attracts the large predator fish (tuna). It’s the food chain at its finest.”

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