Everything You Need to Know About Skipjack Tuna Fishing

What is a Skipjack Tuna?

The skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) is a member of the tuna (Thunnus) tribe, one of the four tribes in the Scombridae family, which it shares with mackerels, spanish mackerels, and bonitos. You may have heard it colloquially referred to as the balaya, cakalang, arctic bonito, mushmouth, oceanic bonito, striped tuna, or victor fish.

With a torpedo-shaped body made for fast swimming, and a strong sense of smell, they are excellent hunters. Their back is a dark purple or blue, that fades into silver on their sides and bellies which helps with camouflage. There are also four to six stripes on their sides.

They are fished for both commercially and recreationally. In fact, they are so popular for commercial fishing that if you’ve ever had canned tuna, it was probably skipjack.

How big do Skipjack Tuna get?

There is much conflicting information on the size of skipjack tuna, as they are so commonly confused with little tunny, bonito, and more. So lets set the record straight here: the average length of a skipjack tuna is 32 inches, and weighs about to seven to 22 pounds. They are one of the smaller tuna species.

What's the biggest Skipjack Tuna ever caught?

The all-tackle world record skipjack tuna was caught by Joeri Van Laken in La Gomera, Spain. On November 15th, 2020, Van Laken boated this 46 pound, 5 ounce monster.

Where is the best place to catch Skipjack Tuna?

Skipjack tuna are spread throughout tropical and temperate waters in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. They are a pelagic species, meaning they prefer to be in the open seas in the upper sections of the water column.

When should I catch Skipjack Tuna?

Skipjack tuna spawn year round, which means that they can typically be caught year round, especially in more tropical zones where the water is consistently warmer and prime for spawning. However, as you get towards more into temperate waters, the best season will be in between May and August when the waters are the warmest.

How do you catch Skipjack Tuna?

To begin, look for areas of surface irritation or sea birds, which will help you to identify where to start fishing. Skipjacks are a schooling fish, which means that trolling is the best method to catch them. For bait, live or strip baits, feathers, plugs, and spoons will all work great.

Skipjack are easily startled, which means they key to fishing them is to circle the boat around the school and let the bait drift through them. Once hooked, be ready for the fight!

Are Skipjack Tuna good to eat? What are the best Skipjack Tuna recipes?

Skipjack tuna is a very commonly eaten fish, being one of the most popular tuna served canned worldwide. They have a meaty, bright red flesh that has a mildly fishy flavor. It can be prepared and eaten canned, baked, seared, grilled, or raw.

There are many cultures around the world where skipjack tuna is the highlight of the dish. In Japan, skipjack tuna, known there as katsuo, is eaten raw in sushi and sashimi, or smoked and dried to make katsuobushi which is the main ingredient in fish stock, or dashi. Also, in Indonesia, it is enjoyed cured and smoked in a dish called cakalang fufu.