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Outdoor Journal

Pacific Albacore
by Tim Rozewski

During the summer, off the Oregon and Washington Coasts, the true "salty dogs" team up to search for their prized Pacific treat, the Albacore Tuna. A old salty salmon fisherman, who is stuck in his ways, can be turned into a "Tunaholic" in one trip!

Like any sportfishing adventure, tuna can take some bank roll to pursue. Hiden inside the obvious costs, such as boats, motors, and gear, and the increasing prices to run your boat like fuel, bait, tags, and morrage, are other considerations. Tuna aren't a fishery "commonly" sought by the die-hard salmon fisherman who fishes tidewater, bays, rivers, and 1-4 miles off shore. No, you need a boat that gives you that little extra, the speed, power, and wave breaking ability to go long distances under less shock and recoil to the captain....that is unless you pick one of a few great "indian summer" days on the Pond that allow even the most cautious of fishermen to take after them.

Those days are rare, and most commonly you need a boat long enough to get past medium bar restrictions (say 25 footer), that has extra capacity for fuel, and that can haul a lot of weight. Not to mention being able to break waves and get up and run at 30 knots when possible. Usually, like in our families case, there is one person in the family that thought well enough ahead to account for all types of fishing trips when they bought their craft. You must, though, be willing to deal with the extra size and work when pursuing all fish.

For Salmon fisherman, you'll need to go shopping again and get and reel and pole that can take on a couple hundred hards of heavy mono or braid line, a gear ratio to tackle big strong saltwater fish, but if possible, not quite as big as Marlin gear...although, if you plan to take your boat south anytime soon, you might as well spend the extra now to outfit yourself for billfish sized equipment to save additional costs later.

Oregon and Washington currently have liberal limits on tuna (20 per person / per day). Once caught you'll have the daunting task of "carkin" your tuna; often into the night. Or, you can take them to a cannery at your local port! The price is usually worth it, as eight (8) average Albacore (15-38 lbs each) will equate to approximately 120 - 170 cans. Price that per can, then figure that cleaning/carking and canning them yourself will take 3 people about 8 hours of work for the same 8 tuna. If you make $15/hour working, you'll probably pay for the cans in one 8 hour shift at work....unless of coarse you are all about the Sushi and want 100-130 loin steaks for making "seared Albacore"...in that case, this might only take you 6 hours to take care of 8 fish. Now do the math for the case when the same 3 fishermen bring in 60 tuna! Like big game, the work begins when the fun is over!

'El capitan' we go with, and family member, is a seasoned veteran of the Mexican waters down south. He applies most of his same tuna tactics to Albacore that he does for the many species of game fish down there. We troll many different lure patterns, to find the preference for that day (which happened to be the "Mexican Flag" pattern on my one trip this summer). He is a very aggressive captain and prefers trolling at 8.5 - 9 knots while applying, what I call the Kokanee curve, to his troll patterns. That is, he weaves and circles often to entice trailing fish to strike by slowing down and speeding up the baits on different sides of the turn. Lastly, a keep point for him, is to not run through "jumpers", but rather skirt them about 40-50 yards and pull fish off the edges. The theory here is to take fish off the edge of the school and leave the primary school chasing the bait they were after and thus, not busting up the school.

Oregon / Washington Albacore is no secret any more. I recall 25 years ago, as a 12 year old, going 75-80 miles with my grandfather, packing extra fuel, and sleeping on the ocean many nights just to find the fish. In the past 10 years or so the warm "blue" waters have come in as close as 10 miles to Oregon's shores. Many local tunaholics prefer the water temperature to be 61-63 degrees. This trip we found active fish at 35 miles in 60-61 degree water.

Take lots of ice, a variety of lure paterns, and a big lunch....preferably from pretty gold cans (you'll figure that out later)!

~Good Fishin' - Tim

For more information about Pacific Albacore tactics, contact us!