Let's Go Fishin': Albacore evade anglers
by Mike Baxter
Aug 21, 2014 | 301 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
I try to avoid the overused term “El Nino.”

I will admit, at this time, the water is warmer than average and would lead me to think it should be a good year for albacore fishing.

This assumption, so far, appears to be false, as warm currents move into Monterey Bay and the highly migratory albacore tuna have not been seen.

The first push of 60-degree water started to move towards the canyon edges of the outer bay in June. The water was 60 to 62 degrees — warm, blue, and void of heavy plankton. These are ideal conditions for albacore when they migrate eastward from the western Pacific.

The first calm spell that allowed anglers access to the outer water breaks proved unsuccessful. Boats returned after long days spent with empty fuel tanks and empty fish wells.

Some boats made the voyage into a two-day trip and went 80 miles offshore, and even those journeys have not yet come up with a single albacore.

While reports of birds and bait fish were prevalent, there were no albacore caught — this is unusual for this time of year with such optimal conditions.

A few albacore tuna have been reported off Northern California and the majority of the catch is along the coast of Central Oregon.

Oregon ports from Coos Bay to Newport are reporting the majority of the catch, with most fish ranging in weight from 12 to 20 pounds.

The weather along the Oregon coast has been rough most days with a strong pattern of northwest winds and large seas.

Commercial hook-and-line boats are focusing their efforts here, with “jig boats” and “lift pole” fishermen filling their holds with several hundred albacore per day.

These commercial boats only hook and line fish for albacore with almost zero by-catch. Last season proved similar, with Newport boasting the top honors for commercially landed albacore tuna at 4.9 million pounds.

Despite the cost of fuel, boats will continue to look for albacore in Central California. The fish are tasty and fun to catch, so negative reports won't diminish the desire.

To our south, reports from San Diego to Morro Bay are similar with no albacore spotted or caught.

Albacore tend to migrate east in the spring and head north along the water breaks as summer heats up.

We usually watch scores of albacore to our south to anticipate new fish heading our way.

I am holding hope for these “long fin tuna” and will be eager to get a few myself when and if they show.

- Mike Baxter has fished in the Monterey Bay Area since he was a boy and has been a licensed charter boat captain for more than 20 years. Contact him at captmikebaxter@yahoo.com. He also hosts a fishing show on radio station KSCO (1080) from 8:06 to 9 p.m. Thursdays April through the end of August.

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