How to Catch Skipjack

How to Catch Skipjack | Tips, Secrets and Best Time for Skipjack Fishing

Skipjack fishing is perhaps the newest buzz in the angling world, and it has been surging anglers’ minds away these days. However, most, if not all, anglers still lack knowledge on how to catch skipjacks, and it’s understandable.

First off, skipjack broadly refers to a few different species from the Tuna family. So, many people relate it to tuna fishing and make a mistake. Tuna fishing is seriously different from skipjack fishing, although both species come from the same family.

As we researched the topic, we found the internet lacks concrete information on skipjack fishing. Yes, some YouTube videos are good, but enough. Therefore, you must read out the article if you plan to catch skipjack tuna herring.

You need to know the best time, bait preparation, and fishing technique for skipjacks. You will get everything in this write-up.

What is Skipjack?

Before we head deep into the fishing discussion, let’s clarify what skipjack truly means as a fish species. Skipjack tuna or herring broadly refers to the herring family. It includes tuna, sardines, and shads mostly. A few people include menhadens in the list also. These fish species, in general, are all saltwater. But, many people may include a few freshwater species in the family tree, but it is not widely accepted.

Therefore, when it comes to skipjack fishing, we mainly talk about tune herring fishing in saltwater and close to the coastline.

Also, skipjacks are mid-sized fishes that don’t grow over 20 lbs. However, these fishes are incredibly fast and agile compared to their weight. In fact, most surf anglers treat them as the fiercest and toughest fighting fish in the 20lbs weight category.

So, you have to prepare particularly well for catching them. Since they are fast, your fishing rod and reel also need to be responsive and fast.

Tips On How to Catch Skipjack

Skipjack is mainly a school fish. It means they will travel in a pack, often in hundreds to thousands. Also, they mix with the famous blackfin tuna as they roam and travel the ocean and gulfs. You can find them in different places at different times of the year.

So, knowing the living habit and the best time to catch them will make half of your work done. The rest half will depend on choosing the right baits and lures and waiting for the fish to bite your lure.

Best Places to Fish Skipjack

Skipjacks are found mostly in the Gulf of Mexico and its close locations. Also, at times you might see it migrating to the freshwater rivers. But this migration happens in small quantities. So, your best chance to get skipjacks is along the coastline, mostly in deep water.

You will find them in large schools in the gulf streams. One way of finding the skipjack school is to locate the working birds. Since these birds always look for predators to leave their eaten fish, they will always flock around where large predators target the schools’ fish.

So, when you locate the working seabirds, you can target that spot for skipjacks. It should reap good angling results for you.

Best Time to Fish Skipjacks

Although skipjacks are catchable throughout the year, you need to target them during peak times. It will ensure better catches, and you may even get some prized trophies.

Experts say that the best time to catch skipjacks is from May to August. Since they spawn several times a year, you can easily get a few of them throughout the year. But during the summer months, May-August, you have the best chance to catch large ones.

Also, you can strike them at different times of the day. Expert skipjack anglers recommend the following three times for fishing these tunas-

  1. Early morning when the water temperature is relatively low and moderate
  2. The cloudy time when the weather is dark, skipjacks are found in abundance
  3. You may even consider fishing them at night

Use Your Trolling Technique

Trolling works as the best technique for fishing skipjacks. Since you will draw multiple fishing lines in the water, it increases your chance of getting the agile game fish. However, it would be best to vary the boat speed whenever you find a slowing down of the fish bites.

Since skipjacks are fast and agile, you may not always find them in one spot. So, varying the boat speed will work fine. Also, skipjacks reside relatively in the upper level. So, you should set the fishing lines at different water depths.

For instance, put a few lines deeper than the actual skipjack’s water level and a few above their water level. This increases the fishing chance quite substantially. Finally, instead of trolling in a straight line, you should change the course. Experts say trolling in zigzags will reap better results for skipjack.

Best Lures and Baits for Fishing Skipjacks

As you apply trolling technique, you can choose swimming ballyhoo for skipjack fishing. Pink feathers are also a great alternative.

Skipjack fish is known for its spooky nature. So, you have to ensure that the fish doesn’t discover your existence. That’s why you must set the fishing line a bit away from the boat. Usually, anglers will let the bait far away from the back of their boat.

Also, as you put baits in water and troll the fish, instead, going zigzag or circling the skipjack school will be a great option. This will permit the bait to remain right in the middle of the action.

You can choose a monofilament fishing line with 60 to 80 pounds weight mostly. A lighter leader will not be effective for skipjacks.

How to Catch Skipjack


You should know now the details on how to catch skipjacks. The initial stage of finding the right location and baits can be difficult. But once you hook the first skipjack, these fishes will keep coming one after another.

The fish is available year-round. Also, you will enjoy its delicious meat and prepare different dishes, which will be the icing on the cake of your challenging skipjack fishing.

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