Dig Baton Rouge

“YFT, Baby!”

By Matt Leerkes

As the cold North winds subside, and most hunting seasons come to a close, there’s only one place that could re-fuel the soul of this man.

It’s a place like no other on earth; an abyssal wilderness filled with hope and desire, passion and adrenaline, life and death; a place where a mighty river dumps nutrients into a bottomless canyon filled with toothed monsters awaiting battle.

The battle’s beginning is where the muddy waters of the marsh meet the open blue abyss and the sharp canyon walls plunge into depths that only make rise to giant steel oil platforms. This place is called the Gulf of America, and this, my friends, is where the monsters live.

As I stared at slack flags on the shrimp boats outlined by a clear blue sky on a beautiful March morning in Venice Marina, I knew it would be a great trip. It was finally calm and Mother Ocean had blessed us with absolutely beautiful conditions.  We were headed to the deep water to tangle with some big nasty pelagic predators. With full tanks and the chest full of ice, ballyhoo, cigar minnows, and beer, it was only a quick run down the mighty Mississippi to our hunting grounds.

We made one quick live bait stop about five miles out of the mouth to fill up the live-well with some “tuna crack”.  As always, a little bumping of the sabiki rigs against the rig leg did the trick on the hard tails, so with high spirits and a boat full of primo bait, we headed toward blue water. As the sun began to set casting a brilliant golden blaze on our starboard shoulder “Mars” came into sight.

Closing in on the oilrig, its huge blazing flare and hundreds of lights overpowering the setting sun, we found ourselves in the middle of an unforgettable scene.
Matt with big YFT

As swarms of tiny flying fish buzzed across the surf, we witnessed a violent interception that sent a 100+ pound monster into a slow somersault through the air.  Here they came like miniature submarines flying out of the water.

A machine built for speed and power, these Yellowfin Tuna are one solid hunk of muscle designed to cut through water and rip through prey. Drift after drift the 100-pound mono line screamed off the 50 wide reels, singing the song of prey fleeing in futility.

Gaffed and hoisted, one by one, big nasty sea monsters crashed onto the deck, worn and weary from the fight. As the giants thrashed, the roar of tuna tail thunder and warrior cries of “YFT, baby!” filled the salty night air. Bloody high fives and ear-to-ear smiles spurred on back wrenching fights into the morning. Several hour-long battles and a jam-up crew filled up the man-sized fish boxes to the brim.

Bursting to the gills with meat, and ice steadily melting, the 26-foot catamaran and her exhausted crew headed back up the river, to the relief of the surviving tuna beneath.


This is the easiest and most delicious way to eat Yellowfin tuna.


– Super fresh tuna – 1 lb makes a good starter dish for several people

– Sharp knife

– Soy sauce

– Lemon

– Teriyaki or eel sauce (adds a little sweet)


Take fillet or chunks of yellowing tuna and, cutting against the grain, slice paper-thin bite-size pieces. Lay thin tuna pieces on a serving plate then squeeze the lemon and drizzle soy sauce on top. Drizzle the teriyaki or eel sauce on top sparingly to add a little sweetness.

You can always add some garnish on top to make it pretty as well.

Throw a few chopsticks on the table and enjoy. We will usually cut open the first yellowfin that hits the deck and eat it without all the lemon and teriyaki. It is delicious just by itself but even better dressed up.



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