How to "Yo-Yo" heavy iron is what this article focuses on and one of my favorite techniques to catch Yellowtail when they are deep feeding on clam beds, spawning squid or whatever else they eat year round. Yellowtail can be caught year round off San Diego and most Southern California with big game spring "mossbacks" Yellowtail making a show with the squid spawn typically around Mid-March. One thing I love about this great sport is either there is always some new tip or skill to learn or to improve on the knowledge you already have and the Yellowtail season can vary year to year as we've found now in January 2015 the 2014 bite that never quit.
(Sample of a few of my favorite "heavy iron" for Yellow's)
(Here's a pic of my lights for comparison - note the Barracuda paint chips
Fyi - Don't mess with the hooks like I did, keep the stock trebles - I was bored one day and tried a few to spare the released fish - Dark Green Light is Calico Bass candy for casting along the kelp line or drop in a kelp hole with heavy line)
Must have knowledge in any fisherman's skill arsenal is knowing how to fish the iron, both the light surface and heavy deep water varieties. My favorite colors are in the photo's above. Scrambled Egg, Green variations, Blue and White, Blue and Chrome and Mackerel?Chrome are a few favorites although the chrome variation can attract too many Barracuda when they are thick and Yellowtail are in the mix or lurking below the schooling Barracuda in a chum-line feeding frenzy. All white for when White Sea bass are on the chew.
When the Yellowtail bite is hot, especially early season big "home guard" variety most popular on the local 3/4 day sportfishing vessels, it's important to know how to "yo-yo" iron (weighted metal lures casted or dropped and retrieved). This is must have knowledge and skill for those days when the explosive Yellows show and all they are biting is deep yo-yo's.
Penn Jigmaster 500 is the best bang for the buck sturdy fishing reel to learn to cast and all around party boats fishing. I found Amazon's best deal cheapest priced Penn Reels:
The deep jigging or yo-yo technique with heavy metal lures generally out produces lighter surface jigs on a daily basis when "Yellows" are in deeper water many times feeding at local clam beds or deeper water structure. Year round Yellowtail especially farther south along the Baja Coast are caught in good numbers using the yo yo technique as well.
Salas 6x Junior, Ironman 3 and 5's and Tady AA or 9, among bottom jigs that works well when the bite is deep as a lot of times off Baja or early spring at the Coronado Islands, La Jolla or other popular Yellowtail spots fished by sport boats out of San Diego Landings. Tady 45's in every color if you can afford it are my all time favorite for how they swim and attract fish year after year.
A fast ratio reel and a rod with a good butt section for turning big fish near structure in deep water is a good setup for yo yo. A graphite rod in the 8 to 9 foot lengths are great for casting way out to where a big Yellowtail may be pushing a bait ball to the surface evident by working birds on the surface. I always throw on birds working the surface which sometimes takes a really long cast.
For yo-yoing deeper fish basically just drop your lure over the side straight down and let it drop fast until it hits the bottom. Then engage the reel and retrieve as fast as you can about half way to even all the way up then stop and let it drop to the bottom again and repeat, hence the name like a "yo-yo". Just keep up this technique using various retrieve speeds and depths when reeling in the iron before letting it drop again and take note of the depth you are in when hooked up or bit so next time you can concentrate more on fishing that zone. Generally local Yellow's like a fast retrieve but if one way doesn't work after being exhausted, try something different.
Color I start by matching the bait and/or water color in the area being fished. Anything scrambled egg, green or chrome/mackerel I personally like and start with but everyone has their own advice here. Tady, Salas, Sumo are all popular brand iron that work great for yo-yo fishing deep water fish.
You can't fish Yellowtail with one rod, On a slow bite most fisherman prefer to use small anchovies for bait, go as light as 12 to 15 pound line on a small conventional reel like my personal favorite and most bang for the buck reel the older Daiwa Sealine SX 20 is a fun and very sturdy little reel with star drag and Daiwa's separate roller-bearing free-spool makes casting the lightest of pinhead-size anchovies a breeze with a light rod as the fish can be fussy or "line-shy". As the bite comes on a little more aggressively, go to 20 pound line on a medium reel, similar in size to a Penn Jig master or another favorite for throwing iron on my Cal Star Graphighter 800L (light) or a shorter "rent-rod" size pole like a Cal Star 870 Fiberglass medium action rod with a lot of "butt" for turning the bigger fish) with a Daiwa Sealine X 30 Sha. When using bigger baits like mackerel and sardines, go to 25, 40 or even 50 pound line, depending on the conditions.Purchase Daiwa Sealine 30 from Amazon - Superior reel for "yo-yo" and casting distance iron
Use a "jig stick" or rod of at least 8 feet to throw surface iron (metal lures). For yo-yo-ing (deep jigging heavy lures), the standard is a 4/0-size reel on a 7 to 7-1/2 foot rod with a fast taper and 40 to 50 pound line for abrasion resistance. My favorite new reels are Accurate's "Boss" Series. They are a bit pricey for some people but if you want the best catch success for deep Yo-Yo Jigging. If you want the best I highly suggest purchase an Accurate BX-400X BX Boss E-Series Reel with a line capacity of 300 yrd./20# mono is perfect but really any of the big name reels with a high gear ratio for fast retrieve and even two-speed for larger fish will work. I still really like my old Daiwa Sealine Series reels for superior casting and high gear ratio. My Daiwa's have never failed me nor a trusty and still best bang for the buck Penn Jig master 500 for about 65 bucks but my Accurate Boss BX400 E Series is my favorite and worth every penny. You need heavier gear when fishing the yo-yo to force fish away from bottom structure and turn the fish where they can quickly cut you off. You will not regret the purchase Accurate makes some beautifully engineered fishing reels perfect for Southern California year-round Yellowtail fishing.
.I don't get too involved in line whether braided, mono, fluro or p-line. Personal preference here again. I'm old school and still like a good mono 20 - 30# with a fluorocarbon leader with my Daiwa Sealine 30X and my Cal Star Graphighter 800M, lot of butt for turning bigger fish and 8ft for great casting the "lights" or live bait with a fast action tip on an often crowded boat. The Daiwa Sealine has a smoking fast retrieve and casts for miles as I say. Anything similar is adequate - I learned on a Cal Star 870 with a Penn Jig master 500 because I figure learn on a basic setup like that and the nicer gear will be effortless to hone skills. Learn to cast a Penn jig master 500 and you can cast anything out there.
Yellowtail fish season in Southern California is April to September. However, a "second" season develops during the winter when larger fish are found within areas of spawning squid and at the Clam Beds near Coronado Islands. Southern California sportfishing landings and boats target Yellowtail year round but peak season is from Spring through Fall. Any time the sea surface temps near 64 -65 degrees it's light turning a switch on expect them to start biting.
Yellowtail can be amazingly easy to catch at times during a hot or wide open bite. When they are biting, it seems anything dropped in the water they hit in a frenzy. When they're not biting, nothing seems to work and the real challenge of the hunt comes in to play.
Figuring out big game "mossback" Yellowtail often comes down to experience, and no one's more experienced than the veteran skippers and their crew who guide both long-range and local anglers to fish, year in and year out. If in doubt ask your deckhand how to best rig for the conditions. They are out nearly every day of the year and know best at a given moment what is biting and how to rig.
This kind of fishing can take a lot of patience and local knowledge which is where I hope I have provided some helpful information to help land that first or next Yellowtail
Current ranks as a major consideration when Yellowtail fishing. Yellowtail have a reputation of being fussy eaters, and the most successful anglers have a good understanding of the species' environment and know what signs to look for when they are close or feeding. I have had great success constantly scanning the water for signs of feeding such as working birds (birds feeding on the surface) from bait being pushed up to the surface often by Yellowtail. Water movement and current trigger fish naturally to feed. Current is one of the main factors that coincides with biting fish most often over the years I have noticed that the most successful days out are when the current is running strong around the changing tides - most anglers including myself agree that without a good current and clean water the bite usually shuts down or the fish that do bite are more fussy.
As far as moon phase and bite success, I lean more on the current and changing tide as more important factors for biting 'tails. I've caught Yellowtail in all moon phases. Sometimes its easier to catch bait when it's not so bright. Other species however do get caught more on full moon periods such as White Sea bass and Bluefin Tuna. You may notice a particular boat's schedule to be full during full moon nights during Spring through Fall.
During countless trips I have taken of the past 35 years best success comes when all of these factors are combined - good current, warm water (above 65 degrees most anglers agree), good water clarity and as I mentioned visual signs like working birds suggests there may be Yellowtail in the area pushing the bait up and are feeding are all signs conditions are right for a great day of catching.
Well I hope you all learned something from this article. Feel free to Email me anytime for more info, tips, recommended tackle or boats I like. I'm here to give local advice for fisherman planning a San Diego sportfishing trip. Good luck and tight lines.
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The Accurate Boss Single Speed Boss Series X Single Speed or for turning bigger game fish the BX-2 Series. Both Accurate Boss 400x, 500x or 600x have huge 6:1 ratio great for popular Southern California - San Diego deep "Yo-Yo" technique where dropping deep and cranking in at blazing speeds trigger the Yellowtail bite. Spend the money for an Accurate or Avet one piece aluminum body work horse reels for San Diego game fish like we witnessed in 2015!
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