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Tuna Fishing Seasons: A Comprehensive Guide

There’s nothing like the battle, fight, and adrenaline rush you get from catching Tuna. These mighty fish put up one of the most impressive pound-for-pound fights in the ocean, but not everyone has what it takes to catch them, and knowing the best time to catch Tuna is one of the most challenging aspects.

One of the things that makes Tuna fishing so great is the variety of different Tuna species and the availability across the United States. However, the United States covers a big area, and Tuna seasons will vary from state to state.

In the following Tuna Fishing Seasons guide, we’ll cover:

If you love getting out on the ocean chasing big game fish, then be sure to check out Spanish Mackerel Fishing: Tips and Tricks to Catch More and Bigger Spanish Mackerel for some excellent tips and tricks to land more Spanish Mackerel on your next fishing trip.

Tuna can be an elusive and challenging species to track down, but thanks to the Fishbox, a premium Fishing Forecasting App, you’ll know the best time to head out into the ocean and mix it up with some of the most demanding fishing fish in the ocean, the mighty Tuna. Tuna tastes delicious, too, which is an added bonus!

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Expert Opinion on Tuna Fishing Seasons

Pierce Latta

16 years fishing experience

“Tuna are some of the most sought-after pelagic species across the entire world—and not just pelagic species but all species I would argue. Well-known for its unparalleled fight and excellent table fare, there is much to love with tuna. Not only that, but there are also many different species of tuna and while all in the same family, each is quite unique from the others. If you are new to tuna fishing like me or even an experienced angler, there is a ton of information that can be gleaned from this article so let’s dive right into it. The first section the article goes into is a discussion of the various tuna seasons across the US based on the state. Here, the article highlights some of the most popular states for tuna and gives us anglers a bit of a timeline as to when we can expect to find these tuna. This can be super helpful information whether you are living in these states already or even traveling to them. An awesome addition that was thrown into this article was some information regarding international destinations for tuna. Here we get a bit of seasonal information on tuna in Australia, the Bahamas, Spain, and South Africa. The article follows with another discussion on some of the factors that play into the timing of the tuna seasons in various spots of the world. This was super interesting to me as I realized that water temperature and other factors measured by the Fishbox App can play a monster role in whether or not the tuna will actually be there or not. The second to last section of the article focuses on conservation of tuna and I love this. It is important for us anglers to realize that what we do, catch, and keep can have huge consequences on the environment and the ecosystems within. This being said, it is so important to stay up to date on rules, regulations, and licenses so that we can ensure the safety of our waters for years to come. These rules are in place for a reason, so we need to abide by them to keep our fish stocks healthy. Aside from the conclusion, the last thing this article touches on is a discussion of the various kinds of tunas around the world. I personally loved this section as it highlights just how awesome the tuna family is—especially in its diversity. These tuna can range from a few pounds to well over a thousand pounds and can be found in all sorts of places all over the world. Additionally, it is helpful to soak in this information so that you can be better at how you target them giving you better chances of success on the water. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and my comments and as always, good luck and tight lines!”

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Tuna Fishing Seasons in the United States

Because of the size of the United States, Tuna season will vary depending on which state you plan on going fishing in. So, if you’re booking a destination Tuna fishing trip with a charter operator, be sure to choose peak Tuna fishing season for that state.

In this section, we’ll cover some of the most popular Tuna fishing states and their seasons.

Florida Tuna Seasons

Thanks to its beautiful climate and abundant coastal areas, fishing for Tuna in Florida can be highly rewarding. The warm water around Florida is the perfect habitat for growing big Tuna. The best time to chase Tuna in Florida is between May and September. However, the weather in Florida can be unpredictable, and hurricanes can make getting out on the water challenging.

Hawaii Tuna Seasons

If you haven’t fished in Hawaii, then what are you waiting for? There is some excellent Tuna fishing to be had, but the most popular species by far is the mighty Yellowfin Tuna. The Tuna season in Hawaii runs from May to September, with the peak months in June and August offering the best weather for fishing.

Louisiana Tuna Seasons

Along with delicious local cuisine, especially seafood, it’s no surprise that Louisiana also offers excellent fishing, including Tuna. You’ll have the opportunity to catch Bluefin Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, and Blackfin Tuna. There are no regulations governing when you can catch Tuna in Louisiana, but the prime months are January to March.

Texas Tuna Seasons

Another top saltwater fishing location in the United States, Texas, offers some excellent Tuna fishing. Your best bet to land a Tuna and get a spot on one of the local charters is between the months of July and November.

Delaware Tuna Seasons

If you love catching Yellowfin Tuna, then you’re in luck because Delaware offers Yellowfin Tuna fishing year-round. The legal catch limit is three fish per day, so only keep what you need and let some fish live to fight another day.

California Tuna Seasons

The weather and climate of California offer anglers year-round Tuna fishing, but like other states, there’s a peak season where your chances of catching some big fish are much higher. The peak Tuna season in California runs from June to November, but charter spots during this time fill up quickly, so book early.

Washington Tuna Seasons

The smaller yet still formidable Albacore Tuna put in a big appearance in Washington between June and November. August and September are the peak months, and there are also some other Tuna species on offer, including Bluefin Tuna and Yellowfin Tuna.

New England Tuna Seasons

The big and hard-fighting Bluefin Tuna lurk in the waters surrounding New England, and the season runs from January to March, and for non-commercial anglers, it is from June to November.

Maine Tuna Seasons

Located in the northeast of the US, Maine offers some excellent Tuna fishing with the season running from June through to November, with the occasional Tuna being caught in December.

Massachusetts Tuna Seasons

The Tuna season in Massachusetts starts in June and runs through to around Christmas, but the peak season for these mighty fish is between August and September. The primary target in Massachusetts is the Bluefin Tuna.

Read also: Complete Guide to Massachusetts Fishing Licenses

International Tuna Fishing Seasons

Tuna isn’t just caught in the United States, with some world-class Tuna action to be found in various countries. In this section, we’ll take a quick look at some of the other excellent Tuna fisheries for anglers considering an international fishing vacation.

  • Australia – Tuna season starts in Australia around December and continues until Easter when the waters start to get cooler. Yellowfin Tuna and Albacore are extremely popular, along with large species of Southern Bluefin Tuna. 
  • The Bahamas – Tuna season in the Bahamas runs from around May through to August. You’ll encounter almost every species of Tuna in these warm waters, and thanks to conservation efforts, overfishing hasn’t affected Tuna stocks as it has in some parts of the world.
  • Cape Town, South Africa – The waters surrounding South Africa are teaming with a variety of different fish species, including Tuna. Not far from Cape Town, you’ll encounter Yellowfin Tuna, Bigeye Tuna, Longfin Tuna, and Skipjack.
  • Mallorca, Spain – May is the best time to plan your Mallorca Tuna fishing trip, but Spring fishing for Tuna is also popular on this Spanish island as Tuna thrive in the warm Mediterranean waters.

Factors Influencing Tuna Season in the US

The weather plays a significant role in how Tuna feed breed, and when they make their long and arduous migrations around the world and coasts of the United States. One of the weather systems that heavily influences Tuna fishing in the United States is El Niño.

El Niño is a weather pattern that’s characterized by the ocean surface getting warmer in the eastern and central Pacific Oceans. It happens every two to seven years and impacts weather conditions, marine life, and ocean conditions.

In California, El Niño is associated with higher water temperatures, changes to ocean currents, and increased rainfall.

When it comes to game fishing for species such as Tuna, El Niño can cause warmer water temperatures, which leads to increased opportunities for anglers. During El Niño, Yellowfin Tuna are much more likely to be found in warmer waters where they traditionally aren’t commonly caught.

Many experts are predicting that the 2023/2024 summer seasons for Tuna will offer anglers some of the best Tuna fishing on record. However, while the warmer water means species such as Yellowfin may become more common in some areas, species such as Bluefin, which prefers cooler water, may not be found as far north as usual.

While El Niño can bring positive aspects and an increase in fish activity, it can also have a negative impact at the same time, particularly for anglers fishing offshore for game species. More rainfall and increased ocean currents can lead to decreased water visibility, making it harder for anglers to locate fish.

Warmer water also affects the food Tuna eat. Warm water means less plankton, which can have a flow-on effect on the entire food chain, from the smallest baitfish all the way up to large Tuna.

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Tuna Stocks and Conservation

As responsible anglers, it’s vital that we all do our part to ensure the protection of Tuna stocks, not just in the United States but also globally. A report which was published by the UN in 2020 stated that of the thirteen major Tuna fishers, eight had recovered to the point where they were no longer considered overfished. 

Skipjack Tuna stocks are healthy thanks to their younger reproduction age and the speed at which they grow. However, Yellowfin Tuna in the Indian Ocean is heavily overfished, along with Bigeye Tuna in the Atlantic and two species of Pacific Bluefin Tuna.

So, as anglers, what can we do to help ensure the sustainability of Tuna fisheries for future anglers? If you don’t want the Tuna to eat or have already caught enough, returning any excess Tuna to the water in a healthy condition to live and breed is a good choice.

Always ensure that you check local regulations, abide by bag limits, and only take what fish you need. A photo with a fish before returning it to the water is a great way to remember an excellent day out on the water without having a negative impact on the fishery.

By being responsible anglers, we can ensure that future generations of anglers enjoy the same if not better, fishing opportunities well into the future.

Tuna fishing in the United States is continuing to gain a lot of popularity, not only for the challenging fight they offer but also for their delicious taste. However, before you plan your next Tuna fishing adventure, it will help to know which species you’re targeting and what makes them so popular.

Tuna is part of the Scombridae family, which also includes Mackerel, and there are various species. You’ll notice some Tunas look more like Mackerel and vice-versa. In this section, we’ll cover some of the most popular Tuna species.

Albacore

Albacore, sometimes referred to as the ‘chicken of the sea,’ offers a delicious white flesh that is sweet and flaky. Albacore prefers temperate water rather than tropical water and can be caught off the coast of California during summer, but this varies each year depending on migration. Later in the year, Albacore starts to move up the coast toward Oregon, British Columbia, and Washington.

Bigeye Tuna

Bigeye Tuna are often confused with Yellowfin Tuna because of their yellow fins, but Bigeye has black-tipped fins and bigger eyes. Often targeted by commercial anglers, the large and robust Bigeye puts up an impressive fight.

Blackfin Tuna

Commonly found around Florida, the Blackfin Tuna enjoys tropical waters around the Western Atlantic Ocean and anglers from North Carolina to Brazil enjoy catching them and even throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Blackfin Tuna like to feed close to the surface in large schools and are often caught trolling or jigging. 

Bluefin Tuna

Undeniably the kings of Tuna, the Bluefin Tuna are the ultimate catch for many offshore anglers, not to mention people who enjoy the world’s best sushi. Reaching maturity at six years old and an impressive 300 pounds, the Atlantic Bluefin spawns in the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean. There are three species of Bluefin, Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern. 

Bonito

There are four species of Bonito, including the Atlantic, Pacific, Striped, and Australian. They’re closely related to Dogtooth Tuna, sharing a similar shape and size. Sticking closer to shore, Bonito makes an excellent target species for shore-based anglers utilizing light tackle.

Longtail Tuna

Located in the Indo-Pacific, the Longtail Tuna enjoys hunting close to shore, sometimes even venturing into small rivers, bays, and estuaries. They are commonly referred to as Northern Bluefin in Australia, even though they aren’t a Bluefin species.

Skipjack

You’ll be able to recognize Skipjack thanks to the distinctive horizontal stripes that are prominently displayed on their lower half. These small Tuna are found in all temperate and tropical waters, often in dense schools as they feed. Thanks to its light flavor, Skipjack, when looked after, makes an excellent meal.

Yellowfin Tuna

Recognizable by its bright yellow fins, the Yellowfin Tuna is extremely popular among game fishing anglers worldwide. While they prefer deeper water, Yellowfin can sometimes be caught closer to shore. Averaging close to 200 pounds, Yellowfin Tuna put up an impressive fight and can often be found working close to schools of Dolphin, cornering large schools of baitfish.

Tuna Fishing Seasons: A Comprehensive Guide – Conclusion

Now you will have a much clearer picture of the best time to fish for Tuna in the United States, including the Tuna seasons, some of the factors that influence fishing seasons for Tuna, and the most popular Tuna species.

Like all fisheries, managing the Tuna fishery is vital to ensure that future generations of anglers have the same fantastic opportunities to catch these wonderful fish. If you’ve caught enough to eat, consider taking a photo, tagging the Tuna, and returning it to the water safely to give someone else the same great experience you had.

The technology in the Fishbox App allows you to track weather conditions accurately and predict the best times to hit the water when planning your next Tuna fishing trip. It combines weather, lunar, and tidal conditions with predictive fish behavior to deliver optimal fishing opportunities throughout the world, perfect for offshore and inshore anglers.

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If you’ve had much experience catching Tuna and would like to share some knowledge, experience, tips, and tricks with other anglers, drop a comment below! We love to hear your thoughts and feedback, and we’re sure other anglers will appreciate the opportunity to get out on the water and catch a big Tuna for themselves.

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