Yellowfin Tuna prefer to swim in mid-depths or near the surface in warmer waters, nor do they range as far north as other tunas. They also travel less extensively than bluefins or albacore.Found worldwide in tropical and subtropical waters, they range from California to Chile, and southern Australia to Japan, in the Pacific Ocean; South Africa to France, and Massachusetts to Brazil, in the Atlantic Ocean.The most popular locations for active Yellowfin are the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Mexico, and New Zealand. In addition, Venice, Louisiana’s South Pass is a hot spot during late fall and winter, when these fish run at sizes between 30-60 pounds and up to 100 pounds, respectively. Also popular are Montauk and Cape Cod during the summer.
More striking in appearance than any other tuna, Yellows have bright and vibrant coloration about a golden stripe running along the side. The second dorsal and anal fins are bright yellow, while the top tends toward a metallic dark blue or green. In addition, many vertical, interrupted lines are featured on otherwise silvery-white lower sides and the belly. Reproductively mature by two to three years, these fish grow to more intermediate sizes than their cousins, averaging 11-50 pounds in weight. The world record for Yellowfin Tuna is a 388-pound specimen caught off San Benedicto Island, Mexico.
Yellowfin keep fast-moving schools with other tuna and, more preferably, any other like-sized fish – even dolphins and porpoises, sometimes sharks and whale sharks. Though highly migratory in the Atlantic Ocean, there seems to be little north-south or east-west movement in the Pacific. Instead, they appear to hunt by sight in surface waters during daylight, foraging for prey like cephalopods, crustaceans, and other fish, including dolphinfish, anchovy, mackerel, and other tunas.
Other dietary supplements may be squid, lobster, octopus, and crabs. Yellowfin Tuna reproduce year-round, but spawning is most frequent during summer months in each hemisphere.
Most valuable of all tunas commercially, they make up a third of all total commercially harvested tuna. Extremely popular canned in the United States, Ahi – as Yellowfin are called in Hawaiian parlance – is also among the favorite forms of sashimi.
Yellowfin are also highly prized as big game fish due to their fierce ability to give battle. They are known to hit bait near the surface very hard and fast and continue to fight from the depths for a very long time. These fish are powerful and make anglers work for their meal. It is said that one doesn’t catch them as much as go to war with them!