Tuna Fish Sizes: How Big Can Tuna Get?

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Video biggest blackfin tuna

In terms of the biggest tuna ever caught, you are looking at a monster that weighed 1496 pounds. The beast was a bluefin tuna and was nabbed off the coast of Nova Scotia. How big do tuna get? Well, they grow huge, but the maximum size will depend on the species of tuna and the Gulf of Mexico is a haven for tuna of all sizes. [1]

Tuna Species of the Gulf of Mexico

Tuna fish size ranges from the smaller Tunny and Skipjack to the massive bluefin and yellowfin.

Yellowfin – Fish with Baitfish, Squid, or Crustaceans

Yellowfin are found the world over, they are one of the most targeted tuna with around 12 million pounds caught by rod and reel around the world. [2] Yellowfin can grow to six feet in length and over 400 pounds.

Bluefin – The Biggest of the Tuna Species

Bluefin Tuna

If you are looking for a monster game fish, the bluefin tuna is likely a good target. They can grow to 13 feet in length and weigh upwards of 2000 pounds. That’s a ton of fish that is as long as two NBA basketball players. The record for a pole-caught blue tuna is 1495 pounds.

Blackfin – A Smaller, but Fun Tuna

Blackfin tuna reach a size of 39 inches and a weight of 46 pounds. Most anglers would rather target yellowfin or the elusive bluefin tuna, but the blackfin tuna is a strong fighter and very good to eat.

Little Tunny – A smaller variety with Trophies in the 30-37 pound range

Little tunny is a schooling tuna that feed on baitfish and crustaceans. You find them in open waters and along the coastal waters. Fishing little tunny is a big sport because while they are smaller tuna, they are strong, and they fight hard. You can also use little tunny as live or cut bait for bigger tuna and shark fishing. [3]

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Skipjack – A Trophy is 25-33 Pounds

Skipjack is similar to little tunny in that they stay small and are schooling fish. You can target them with herring or baitfish, and you will find them in coastal and deep waters off of Florida and around the Gulf. These are not the biggest tuna, but they put up an amazing fight. Even at 20 pounds, they will bend the rod and fight.

Albacore – Thunnus alalunga – A True Tuna

Albacore

A big albacore is going to be around 39 inches though as a species they can reach lengths upward of 51 inches. Unlike many tuna, you find albacore in schools without other species of tuna. By nature, these are highly migratory fish, and finding them may mean focusing on baitfish. April and May and Late fall are the best times to target albacore. [4]

Bigeye – A bigger version of Yellowfin

A trophy bigeye tuna will approach 5 feet in length. According to Sport Fishing Magazine, the record for bigeye tuna is 392 pounds six ounces. Bigeye are often found near the surface where they feed on baitfish, but they can also be deep at over 800 feet. [5]

Some of The Top Tuna Species Caught in the Gulf of Mexico

The holy grail of tuna fishing is the bluefin tuna. They are elusive fish that seem to be on everyone’s bucket list of big fish. In truth, the blackfin is likely to be a bigger fish. Yellowfin are another top tuna species for anglers who want to battle big fish.

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In comparison, the world record for yellowfin is 388 pounds 12 ounces but in Florida, the record is 240 pounds. [6] According to American Oceans, the biggest bluefin tuna is 1496 pounds. [7] That is a massive difference in size which is why almost everyone wants to battle a bluefin. Our list of top tuna includes:

  • Bluefin
  • Blackfin
  • Yellowfin
  • Bigeye

What’s the biggest tuna ever caught?

The biggest tuna ever caught was the 1496-pound bluefin. In the Gulf of Mexico, the biggest tuna ever caught is thought to be the bluefin tuna caught by Ron Roland off the coast of Louisiana. It topped the scales at 1152 pounds. Both of these catches tell us why bluefin tuna is on everyone’s fishing bucket list. [8]

Conclusion

If you are wondering how to catch a tuna, the options are fairly simple – deep sea fishing while trolling with live or cut bait. One of the problems with fishing tuna in the Gulf is that the geologic structure of the Gulf is diverse. You need a captain that understands the topography of the deep water and the location of deep structures.

Tuna – all species – are highly migratory. So, fishing them requires that you know where they are right now as their location is not static. Many species of tuna range from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and elsewhere in the tropical waters of the globe. Even smaller species of tuna or small fish will put you on par with some of the best game fish on the globe.

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Silver salmon, for example, is one of the most sought-after fighting fish around, and they weigh around 20 pounds. They do not compare in fight and strength to a small tuna. That is why tuna fishing is so popular. Not only do they fight hard, but they also taste good too.

While tuna is available all year long, April and May are great months to target tuna off the coast of Florida. November and December can also be peak months for tuna fishing in the Gulf while the summer months are busy for tuna anglers. What do you do between April and November? You fish for tuna or other big fish. A charter boat is probably going to be one of the best options you have to fish tuna during their peak season and also during the off-season.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>