Yesterday’s fishing adventure was one for the record books. At least for me. I was invited to fish with Captain Mark Coleman of All Rivers & Saltwater Charters. Their fleet of 29′ Defiance charter boats are really great fishing platforms, and I’ve had some awesome trips on them. The newest addition to the fleet is the 42′ Integrity. Fully refurbished and repowered and a true ocean fishing machine! We went on the hunt for Albacore Tuna and had a phenomenal day.
Albacore Tuna fishing is a very unique fishery. As a native son of Washington, my fishing calendar is filled chasing Salmon, Steelhead, Lingcod, Crabbing and Shrimping. But none of these are similar to Albacore Tuna fishing. If you haven’t experienced it, you need to. This year.
Captain Mark and his deckhand Chance always start the morning off with a little tuna talk. If you have fished for Albacore before, you know that things can get a little hectic. Understanding what you are getting into really helps with the madness. Mark gave us the run down to familiarize everyone before we got out there. How we would start trolling. Who would be responsible for clearing the troll rods. Who would need to grab the live-bait rods to start the bait stop. How we would be looking for signs of busting tuna, birds, bait, ect. He went over every detail from the transition from trolling to live bait. What we needed to do when lines got crossed as we battled Albacore. The pre-game talk was really helpful to set us up for success.
We headed to the live bait dock to pick up a couple scoops of live Anchovy. Then it was time to run out.
Travelling to the Tuna Grounds
The Pacific was calm. The bar crossing was a little sporty, but the 42′ Defiance softened the ride. Once we pushed through the Westport Bar, it was smooth sailing out to the zone. We started fishing about 55 miles due west of Westport.
Searching for Signs of Albacore
Every member of the crew was on the lookout for signs that would indicate that Albacore were around. A few birds here and there. But then, we found patches of bait busting on the surface and a few Albacore chewing them up. Always a good sign!
Searching and Trolling
Five troll line were deployed. Three out the back and two on the outriggers. Within about 10 minutes of trolling we had our first fish on! The trolling gear was pulled in and the guys that were designated as the bait team let out live anchovies on the stern. Immediate hookup! We had our first bait stop and it was a good one! It was a busy twenty minutes. Deckhand Chance gaffed 6 Albacore before the bait stop ended. We went back to trolling.
Live Bait Stops
Throughout the day, we transitioned from trolling to bait stops. Although we had a few bait stops that didn’t yield anything, most of them were productive. One troll fish would give us 4-9 Albacore on the bait stop. Back and forth from troll to bait.
Running six live baits at a time is a hectic endeavor. Once an Albacore was on, you needed to follow the fish so that it remained straight down in the water from your position. Maneuvering from left to right, in front of or behind whoever is fishing next to you allows for few tangles. But they do happen and I can’t tell you enough how awesome everyone worked as a team to get those fish to the gaff! Amazing! Mark and Chance guided us as we worked. It was rewarding to all work as a team for the shared goal. Filling the fish holds with Albacore!
Bluefin Tuna Bonus
One true bonus of the trip was a Bluefin Tuna, which are a rarity this far north. At one point we hooked a double on the troll and once was that special not-so-long-fin Bluefin! These fish are prized for their sushi grade loins and we each got a portion to take home. It was one of the highest grades of raw tuna I’ve experienced.
Headed Back to Port
All said and done, we ended up with 37 Albacore and 1 Bluefin Tuna. Everyone took home 6 Albacore, which is more than I can say I needed. A haul that will last me and my family for the rest of the summer. The Ocean blessed us with a calm and quick run back to the Westport Boat Basin. Chance loined out all the tuna on the ride in.