Channel Islands

YellowTail Fishing in Southern California - Channel Islands

The Yellowtail is an ocean fish and belongs to the Barsa family. Like each member of this family, it lives in the same kind of environment, has basically the same diet and is a good food. It differs, as the others do, by body coloring, fin structure and habitat range.

The Yellowtail has a tapering, cylindrical body that is about a palmspan over a fore in length. The head is narrow with large eyes and what seems like a large mouth filled with pointed canine like teeth. The gill structure has two flaps, one lying slightly behind the other, and is somewhat square in shape. Fan shaped pectoral fins are located behind the gills with one small triangular pelvic fin is in the middle of the belly. Both are a light gray in color. The fan shaped anal fin is located near the tail and is almost opaque with just a hint of a grayish tint. The dorsal fin starts half way between the forehead and the middle of the back and ends just short of the tail. This dorsal fin is spiky and tall in a rounded crest about a palmspan high for the first ten or twelve ribs. After that it is even and tapers down to about three finger widths near the tail. The spiky area often has a yellow tint but over all a uniform gray color. Its name comes from the forked tail that is a dark yellow in color. It has close fitting small scales covering the body that are a silvery color that lightens to a white belly. The forehead to just behind the eyes is very dark silver in color. The Yellowtail also has a wide light yellow stripe along each side that diffuses when it reaches the tail. This yellow coloring is light in immature young and will darken as the fish matures.

The Yellowtail does not swim in huge schoolss of fish like many ocean fish do. Their school may consist of fifty to two hundred fish. It is not believed they are family groups but just groups that seem to be swimming in the same direction. It has been observed that often when two schools pass each other, members of one or the other will join with the new group. Every two years during the months of the Dead Trees and the Frozen Rivers all mature Yellowtails disappear from the waters of their territory. It is not know what may cause this strange occurrence, nor where the fish are during this time.

The Yellowtail will feed along the bottom of the sea floor on crustaceans and small fish. The immature young will filter plankton and small invertebrate animals from the water.

The Yellowtail is a popular food fish and is in great demand by many. The meat is tender with a pinkish tint and can be smoked, baked, fried or combined into many appetizing dishes. Every region along its range has its own speciality and no two are quite the same.