Deep Sea Fishing For Yellowtail

Deep sea fishing for yellowtail is incredibly popular. The southern yellowtail and the California yellowtail are both members of the Jack family and are difficult to catch with a reel and rod. The yellowtail has been one of the Pacific fisheries staples for years and can be found in tropical waters down south and in central California. As with most fish there are numerous ways to catch a yellowtail. You will need different types of baits and lures including squids, mackerels, sardines, with anchovies being the most preferred. 

Jig fishing is a lot of fun and most people consider this method productive. A Yo-Yo jig can be accomplished with a candy-bar jig type weighing four to twelve ounces. Once you have acquired your jig drop it to the bottom but do not exceed 200 feet. Once you hit the bottom raise your jig four or five feet then repeat the process several times. Then do a quick retrieve until your jig reaches the surface. The speed of your cranking will not matter because a yellowtail is a lot faster than you are. When you have been bit there will be no doubt in your mind but do not set your hook and instead keep on reeling. Do not set your hook until you feel your catch has begun to swim away. 

Jig fishing allows you to use a line for fishing that is much heavier than your bait. A test of thirty to fifty pounds generally works quite well. If there are yellowtails feeding near or on the surface sometimes they will go for a surface iron. A surface iron is a jig with a weight of four ounces or less and are retrieved much slower than the other types of jigs. With this type of jig the preferred bait is a live squid. When a yellowtail can feed on a squid they generally ignore any other bait. 

Another bait excellent for deep sea fishing for yellowtail is a fishing squid and the process is very simple. Either use a sliding sinker directly on your bait or tie your bait directly to your line. The depth and currents will dictate the size of the weight you need to use. Locate the squid’s pointed end and place your hook through it once. Remember when you are using squid a yellowtail can swallow your bait quickly. This is the reason you must not allow them to swim very far before setting your hook. 

When you use anchovies, your hook should be set through the yellowtails nose or behind their gill right on their bony collar. Use a smaller line and hooks because as swimmers they are weak. 

You can use the exact same rig when using sardines. The difference is the placement of the hook. Place your hook through the bottom of the sardine right behind its vent or directly through the sardine’s nose. If you hook your sardine on the bottom you bait will have the tendency to swim much deeper.

Carla Arbuckle
Carla Arbuckle

Carla is a staff writer for and She is an avid outdoors enthusiast and photographer. She can be found most weekends fishing and exploring the wilderness.