2020 PNW Bluefin tuna prospects (title edit)

cabezon

Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
Thanks for your input Bob. Having 20 years of perspective from your part of the coast is very much appreciated.

Hard to say where all this is going. I'm no scientist but it seems clear that ocean (and land) ecosystems are migrating north. Species like dorado, yellowtail, and striped marlin would (I think) correlate directly with warmer SST's. Not sure that is the case with bluefin. I keep going back to that archaeological study of coastal BC tribes harvesting large bluefin. Dozens of specimens ranging from 150 to 650#. Found at multiple sites as far north as Haida G'waii. And this was going on for at least 5,000 years.

To me, that says bluefin aren't "exotics" in the PNW. Instead, I'm hoping the massive resurgence of the fishery in SoCal is a reflection of improvements in fishery management. Either that, or bluefin are simply spending more time in the eastern Pacific. One study came across a while back showed a correlation with prey abundance in the western vs eastern Pacific. Which may or may not be related to GW. In any case, it looks like we could be at the start of a longer term cycle which could make things very interesting out there.
We barely have sea surface temperatures that go back 100 years along this coast (and patchy at that). So, with post-glacial changes in sea level and imperfect detailed knowledge of coastal currents, the waters off Vancouver Island could have been quite acceptable for bluefin tuna. [Unless they were importing them from the Chumash off Santa Barbara. :D ] And if there were much larger numbers of bluefins before the development of industrial fishing, there may have been enough competition for food that bluefins would have spread into more marginal parts of their thermal range to forage.

Steve
 
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SilverFly

Active Member
We barely has sea surface temperatures that go back 100 years along this coast (and patchy at that). So, with post-glacial changes in sea level and imperfect detailed knowledge of coastal currents, the waters off Vancouver Island could have been quite acceptable for bluefin tuna. [Unless they were importing them from the Chumash off Santa Barbara. :D ] And if there were much larger numbers of bluefins before the development of industrial fishing, there may have been enough competition for food that bluefins would have spread into more marginal parts of their thermal range to forage.

Steve
Good point. Are you aware of any similar studies of tribal middens, in terms of comparative species abundance over time? In the absence of SST data, I would be very interesting to have information relative salmon abundance in years with known bluefin catches.
 

cabezon

Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
Good point. Are you aware of any similar studies of tribal middens, in terms of comparative species abundance over time? In the absence of SST data, I would be very interesting to have information relative salmon abundance in years with known bluefin catches.
Hi SF,
This [To Catch a Fish: Some Limitations on Prehistoric Fishing in Southern California...] indicates only one location, Little Harbor on Santa Catalina Island, that had any evidence of bluefin or yellowfin. There are a few small albacore and skipjacks from other locations but in low frequency. The authors argue that the materials available to the Southern California tribes were of limited strength. Very interesting stuff.
Remember also, that many middens are now underwater because of sea level rise after the last glacial maximum.
Steve
 
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jasmillo

Active Member
WFF Supporter
I’m hoping someone bags a Puget Sound beach bluefin before I’m turning up daisies.
That gives everyone notice that you’ve better get this done in the next 15 years or so... ;)
SF
I’ll give it my best shot. BF tuna on a 6 or 7 weight. Gonna have to up my floro weight.

I did have a dream recently where I landed a small tuna off a boat in PS.....so #albacorepremonition:)?
 

Chucker

Chucking a dead parrot on a piece of string!
I’ll give it my best shot. BF tuna on a 6 or 7 weight. Gonna have to up my floro weight.

I did have a dream recently where I landed a small tuna off a boat in PS.....so #albacorepremonition:)?
All this social isolation seems to be causing strange dreams for a lot of people! You need to go fishing!
 

jasmillo

Active Member
WFF Supporter
All this social isolation seems to be causing strange dreams for a lot of people! You need to go fishing!
I’ve had the chance to get out 4-5 times since the opener....but still dreaming :). Odd, thing is I was fishing with someone from work, who doesn’t fish and I don’t hang out with socially. Must have read @SilverFly thread before going to bed and conflated it somehow with a project at work subconsciously.

Brains are weird.....
 

SilverFly

Active Member
Keeping tabs on how the bluefin fishery is developing down south. Based on fresh intel borrowed from the SoCal forum, things are looking good so far. Hopefully this bodes well for the PNW in a few months...

Went on a last minute trip with (buddies). Was hesitant on going cause of weather but ended up laying down. Beautiful day. we got a couple. 5 for boat. I picked up 2 bft 1 yft and 1 yt. Went the distance and found some nice breezers 20-80lb bft.. Got the bft (2-3) on poppers caught them by the upper hidden in dirty water, 67 water temp. Main goal was targeting the big boys. Ended up finding them a zone around 7 miles north east of the breezer party. Blown up a few times on dead flyer and yummy. Monsters.
Inside a bit of last weeks zone. Got one at 200# and another at 274# both taped. Had to chop heads to fit the kill bag... LOL. School stuck with us but 2 was enough.. corner hooked the big one.. asses got kicked. Insane day! <snip>

UPDATE.. we were 48 miles south out of San Diego. SE of the Upper Hidden. Theres a defined color break, follow it zig zagging in the clean and the green. Water temp 67.7.
Used dead flyers on a balloon
Call out the #s on the radio when we were done and a we hung out for bit.. the boats that showed up also got them.
Bad news is we lost 2, one very large one at the boat after a 1.5 hour fight. There are a lot of fish at the numbers below, a lot. Both came on dead flyers off the kite, the first bit in 10. Ins and the second just after we got the rig up. Water was 65.5 and clean, rough out there today. Only saw 2 other boats, one happened to be my slip neighbor, they went 2 for 5 on the dead flyer.....
about 1:30pm we had a massive school under the boat, wish I would have taken a screen shot was insane. Got the Kite out with a Fresh flyer and within 15 minutes we were bit on the big reel. Fish taped about 135 lb. he swallowed both hooks must have been Hungry. Next bait I sent balloon on a Shimano Speed master 20 II WITH 100LB spectra wanted to give this cheaper cost Shimano a whirl I was Bit within 15 minutes I put that fish in the boat at 118 lb. in about 10 minutes reel did the job.

Water temp we were getting was about 67.8 lots of wolf packs out there. We didn't get any Jumbos but we had Fun long day

Color breaks, and 65-67 degree water, continue to be consistent themes. The "zig zagging in the clean and the green" comment in particular is worth writing down.

Here's a quick decoder ring for SoCal offshore forum terminology:

"Breezers" = Feeding tuna that are barely breaking the surface.

"Dirty water" = Pretty much anything other than clear/blue with a hundred foot plus of visibility.

"Dead flyer" = Dead flying fish rigged with a bamboo skewer holding the wings out, and fished well away from the boat under a kite (and/or balloon) so it skips along the surface. The favored tactic for larger bluefin in the 100-300# range.

"Yummy" = A rubber flying fish rigged in the same manner. Sometimes effective, but inferior to the real thing (limited availability and expensive). Interesting, because the strike is a purely visual "dry fly" take from a hundred feet down or deeper in the super clear water. Speaks volumes about the visual acuity of tuna - and importance of matching the hatch.
 
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Coho

Member
Wow - best thread in years. Thanks for all the info! Started reading a couple of days ago - and then through serendipity, a friend, who I had taken out for his first flyfishing and river float last year, emailed me to tell me that he had just bought a boat and invited me to go Albacore fishing this summer. My 12 weight started shaking in its case.

Is there a thread on the forum specific to Albacore with the how-to on flyfishing for them?

Thanks!
 

cabezon

Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
Wow - best thread in years. Thanks for all the info! Started reading a couple of days ago - and then through serendipity, a friend, who I had taken out for his first flyfishing and river float last year, emailed me to tell me that he had just bought a boat and invited me to go Albacore fishing this summer. My 12 weight started shaking in its case.

Is there a thread on the forum specific to Albacore with the how-to on flyfishing for them?

Thanks!
Stimulated by @SilverFly and @Nick Clayton, you can search for several detailed threads from previous years. Lots of great information. Here is one to start: https://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/forum/index.php?threads/150036/.

Steve
 

SilverFly

Active Member
More fresh BFT info from SD.

Hey guys. Went to the tuna grounds yesterday and found a couple biters. First fish ate a yummy flyer. 120lb bluefin.
on the same zone we threw bait on top of a nice jag and got a really good reaction even ate our yummy, but that didn’t stick. We then put the baloon up and dead flyer and got 1 more. Around 120 pounds as well. Water was 66.5 and clean.
I also hooked one on 40lb and almost got spooled. There are some very large models around. Ended up going 2 for 7 on bluefin.
4/19 we found a lot of meat.
Bring everything from sardine and Mack’s to dead flyers and yummys.
I hope this helps people. There is an abundance of tunas around.


Another data-point in terms of bait (or, obviously, prey imitations) in favor of squid. Which would seem a natural choice for PNW bluefin since we don't have flying fish. Comments in gray.
For you guys who don’t want to spend the money ($30 per flying fish) on this.


Find a local fish market with fresh giant squid. Add a 12 odd circle hook, rubber band a torpedo weight, drop in the zone (or large squid fly on a deep line) and your good to go.

1590262166465.png


But wait there's more! This fly fishing rigging tutorial has me wondering if FF might be genetically burned into BFT targeting firmware... and might work up here too.

It should go without saying all this info on conventional gear tactics is intended to better understand bluefin behavior, with the ultimate intent of getting them on fly gear. Just need to figure a way to "shadow cast" a foot-long flying fishing imitation ;).

 
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cabezon

Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
It should go without saying all this info on conventional gear tactics is intended to better understand bluefin behavior, with the ultimate intent of getting them on fly gear. Just need to figure a way to "shadow cast" a foot-long flying fishing imitation ;).

Imagine the line twist from casting a flying fish imitation with erect pectoral fins...
Steve
 

Bagman

Active Member
The flying fish bait would not be a good fly I agree it would be hard to cast but who the hell wants to hook into a 120 lb BFT on a fly rod. I was talking to a guy that got into some nice yellow fin tuna and in 30 minutes he broke a10wt and a 12wt fly rod. His advice to me was to buy the best rod I could afford, and have a backup.
 

SilverFly

Active Member
I sure as hell don't want to hook a tuna that big on fly gear (OK, maybe I do just a little). The fish I'm hoping that show up in fishable numbers are the 40-80# class that are by far the most common in SoCal. That size are also apparently much easier to hook (easier being a relative term). Casting into a foamer and catching a 70# BFT, would be the ultimate bucket list (and possibly 2015 mystery fish redemption) fish for me.
 

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