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Fish Yellowtail byDeep Water Yo-Yo Jigging

"Yo-Yo" Fish for Yellowtail using Iron Jigs - popular local lures and style of fishing pioneered on Southern California Fishing Boats

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.

Heavy Iron for Yo Yo Yellowtail
(Sample of a few of my favorite "heavy iron" for Yellow's)

Light Iron
(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.

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.

Jig Color - 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 heavy iron that work great for yo-yo Yellowtail.

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 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 Jigmaster 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 jigmaster 500 and you can cast anything out there.

Well that's all for now I hope this sheds some light on the subject of how to catch Yellowtail Southern California party boat style. More Yellowtail fish tips here.



Rob Mailly


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