Tuna (Bigeye) Fishing
Tuna (Bigeye) Fishing
Tuna (Bigeye) (Thunnus obesus)
- Size 300 lbs
- Food Value Excellent
- Game Qualities Excellent
- Habitats Offshore
Known as “Fat Tuna” in Latin, the Bigeye Tuna is one of the most rewarding game fish an angler can hook. Confusingly, while they go by the same Hawaiian name as Yellowfin Tunas, with both species known locally as ‘Ahi’, they are definitely not the same kettle of fish. This schooling, pelagic species is widely recognized as having a higher food value than its yellowfin cousin, and methods of fishing for it can vary too.
Beyond their notoriously large eyes, Bigeye Tunas can be difficult to distinguish from Yellowfin Tunas. It is their second dorsal fins that give them away - these never reach the impressive lengths of a Yellowfin Tuna. Their pectoral fins are longer though, and you can often tell them apart from their huge girth - these fish are not skinny!
How Big Can a Bigeye Tuna Get?
It is not unheard of for Bigeye Tunas to reach the 300-pound mark and grow up to 98 inches (250 cm) in length. These giants are famously boisterous and have gained the reputation of schooling in ‘wolf packs’. With their superior taste and strong fights, it’s no wonder these are some of the most sought after species of deep sea fishing.
When and Where to Catch One
The Bigeye Tuna migrates by season and inhabits warm, temperate waters in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. In the late Summer months they become one of the most desirable catches Northeast Canyons, from the 100-fathom curve out (fish there from New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and nearby states). They can be found in large numbers around islands such as Azores and Madeira in the North Atlantic from May to October. And while they are probably the most elusive Tuna in the South Pacific, they can sometimes give anglers a nice surprise in New Zealand too.
How to Catch Them
Bigeye Tunas swim much deeper down in the water column than their Yellowfin and Bluefin relatives, making them a rarer catch. During the day, they can be found between 980-1600 ft (300-500 meters) deep although, like swordfish, they feed closer to the surface at night. This means the most successful time to fish for them is dawn or dusk.
Bigeye Tunas are caught by trolling deep down in the water column, with a speed of 6-8 knots ideal to keep the lures swimming well. The best areas to target them are around structure such as seamounts and canyons, with most Bigeyes being caught around FADs. As Bigeyes mainly feed on crustaceans, squid, mullet, small mackerels, and sardines, lures should imitate these species.
Are Bigeye Tunas Good to Eat?
Yes. With its high fat content, this is a more desirable sushi filling than Yellowfin Tuna, and is only rivalled by the Bluefin Tuna amongst true connoisseurs.
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