Both the Skipjack and the Albacore are in the family of tunas. They both are found in the offshore waters of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. Although both tunas roam well out to sea and are in the same family, they are very different. One of the similar characteristics is the ability to fight. Both tunas are powerful and make deep diving runs. What’s the difference between skipjack and albacore tuna?

Where Do These Two Types Of Tuna Live

The skipjack tuna vs albacore, inhabit much of the same waters along the eastern United States states. 

Albacore Tuna Range

The range of an albacore tuna is from as far north as Nova Scotia and down through the central part of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean. Because of the wide range, andlers have the opportunity to catch them along nearly the entire east coast of the United States and into Canada.

Skipjack Tuna Range

Although the skipjack tuna otherwise know as a skippy tuna will enter Nova Scotia’s waters, it does not frequent these parts. They are most commonly found between Cape Cod and south Florida. 

How To Identify A Skipjack Vs Albacore

Fortunately, anglers can identify both types of fish with ease. They are similar in shape but have key characteristics to differentiate the two. Here is how to determine if it is skipjack or albacore.

Skipjack Tuna Identification

When it comes to distinguishing marks, the skipjack tunas are apparent. Dark-colored stripes run along both sides of the lower half of the body from head to tail. The lines are far different than those on a bonito which are on the upper tail portion. Most skipjack is caught between two and ten pounds but can top 15 pounds. 

Albacore Tuna Identification

Much like the skipjack, the albacore has a tale-tell sign. The pectoral fins are incredibly long. They extend between the anal fin and the tail. The very tip of the tail is white. Unlike the skippy, it has no markings. The albacore tuna grows relatively large. They are abundant between ten and fifty pounds. 

Is Albacore Tuna And Skipjack Tuna Good To Eat

Of the albacore tuna vs skipjack, neither are highly sought after by anglers for the flesh. The meat of albacore is considered by most to be tasteless with the exception of it being popular canned.  A skipjack, when filleted, is dark red and appears unappetizing but is edible. Some of the best-tasting tuna in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia are the yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, and bluefin tuna. 

How Are Albacore Tuna And Skipjack Caught

albacore or skipjack tuna are targeted by trolling. However, the skipjack is easier to target than the albacore. Learn the differences between albacore and skipjack tuna when presenting baits offshore.

How To Catch Skipjack Tuna

The skippy tuna is frequently found in schools near the ocean’s surface, making them easy to target for anglers who are trolling. The preferred lures include spoons and feathers. When they are feeding on baitfish, cast a spinner with a jig or plug. 

We recommend releasing this type of tuna because it lacks in food quality. However, a second option is to keep the skippy as bait for deep dropping or reef fishing as it is bloody and strongly scented to attract snapper, grouper, and sharks.

How To Catch Albacore Tuna

Much like the skippy tuna, the albacore tuna is also caught by trolling. However, albacore vs skipjack stays deep. Because albacore roams in deeper waters, they are challenging to target. However, the fish does come to the surface where it is caught while trolling cedar plugs and skirted lures.

In the situation where the albacore remain deep one of the most effective methods is chunking baits. Throw cut baits over the side when bottom sounding equipment marks fish in the middle or bottom of the water column. The chuncked bait will draw the albacore to the surface. When they begin feeding at the top, toss baited hooks and hang on.

What Type Of Rod And Reels Are Best For Albacore And Skipjack Tuna

For skippy tuna, light trolling equipment in the twenty-pound range is ideal. Albacore tuna are larger and require line weights of 30 pounds. Therefore, the difference between skipjack and albacore tuna fishing is the strength of the gear. Both types of tuna are not surface fighters. Tuna will keep themselves sideways and dive deep. Medium rods will help the angler with leverage in combating the deep dives. 

Is It Worth Fishing For Skipjack And Albacore

Neither the skipjack vs albacore tuna is worthy of specifically targeting when offshore fishing. The best type of tuna to chase are bluefin, blackfin, and yellowfin. These types of tuna are better gamefish and provide excellent table fare. Skippy and albacore tuna may be a bycatch when seeking the more highly sought-after varieties but they still provide an exciting tug at the end of the line. Anglers who have the right boat and gear should run offshore for tuna fishing.