Albacore 2020?

Nick Clayton

WFF Supporter
To the best of my knowledge there are zero guides/charters that specifically run fly fishing trips for albacore. Perhaps there is one out of one of the Oregon ports south of the river that I'm not familiar with, but I don't know.

So your best bet is to find a boat/captain/company that is at least OK with you bringing fly gear, and along those lines there are some options that are better than others.

I know some of the large, slow boats will let people bring a fly rod. What I don't know is how enjoyable and or difficult the physical act of fly fishing off one of those large boats is. Just never done it.

I am at least familiar with all of the six pack charters out of Washington and Ilwaco.

Shake and Bake is an awesome boat. Never been on it but we work with Mike and crew on the tuna grounds a lot. It has to be one of the most comfortable and luxurious boats in the fleet (although there are other options closing in on that every year). They do charge more per seat than most, Im guessing due to the quality of the boat. Ive never seen them with fly fishers on board but I know they've done it. I don't think the boat itself would be my first choice for a fly only trip, just due to the layout and design of the boat. (Not sure if casting off the bow is feasible on that boat?) But if you're looking to do a standard gear trip and simply bring along a fly rod just in case I'm sure it would be fine. I'd say on average the run out of Ilwaco is a bit shorter than the run out of Westport but that's not always the case. Every year is different. The downside of Ilwaco is the Columbia bar, which puts many limitations and cancelations on trips. That bar is no joke.

Mark Youngblood runs what appears to be a great six pack out of Ilwaco. He has a nice boat, seems like a good guy, and catches a lot of fish. I don't personally know how open he is to fly fishing.

There's an outfit with a boat called the Liberty Gun that is a bad ass boat. Its like a 36' Yellowfin center console that is an incredible boat and I'd imagine would be amazing to fly fish from. I just don't know much about them.

The biggest advantages of Westport is that it's the closest for most of Wa, it always has live bait (the further south you go the more limited access to live bait is), and the bar is much more manageable. In 5 years I've seen the bar cause exactly 2 cancelations. Basically it's just not an issue for us.

As far as six pack boats in Westport, I know all of them would at least be ok with you bringing fly rods along. Kerry Allen who owns Offshore Northwest, runs a 28' Parker. He's a fantastic guy and a ton of fun to fish with. I know he's open to the idea, and has had fly guys onboard. However I know Kerry well and he simply has no fly fishing specific knowledge so that's a trip where he would be fine with doing it and getting you out there but isn't going to be able to provide much guidance or anything for the actual fishing.

Same goes with Patrick Walker, Tailwalker Charters. Pats a good fisherman and fun to fish with. He owns a 32' Coldwater aluminum walk around pilot house that would be very fly fishable, would be open to the concept, but has no fly experience to speak of. This year he's leasing a 2nd boat, a slightly larger and newer Coldwater very similar to the one he owns, who will be captained by Chris Dearth. Chris is as nice as they come, and lots of fun. Again zero actual fly experience.

Darrel Johnson runs Far Corners Northwest. He owns a boat that is, I believe around 33'. Its sort of a modified center console. Darrel is a very good fisherman. He also leases an incredible, restored Bertram boat that is a thing of beauty. Darrel has plenty of fly experience, he guides steelhead when he's not on the ocean, and has guided many fly guys. Ive never personally seen him with fly fishers targeting albacore but I'm certain he has done it and would probably be up to do it again but I can't say for certain.

There are two or three newer six packs out there that I'm not as familiar with, however I'm certain if someone had a group of six and wanted a fly only trip I'm guessing they'd do it. Fly money spends the same after all. I just don't know that there is much actual fly experience there.

All Rivers and Saltwater Charters is who I work for out there. Mark Coleman, up until this season, has owned (4) 30' Defiance fiberglass pilot house boats. Mark basically brought the concept of smaller, faster boats running day trip, or "express style" tuna trips to Westport. This off season Mark sold one of his boats and bought a 42' boat that he is currently finishing up now. This boat could potentially be the nicest in the fleet when its done. It will have triple 300 outboards, suspension seats, forward racks to lie down, and most interesting to me a Seakeeper gyro system. For those unfamiliar with a gyro it basically limits the boat's side to side roll when on drift. This is pretty new technology, especially to smaller boats, and to the best of my knowledge is the first of its kind in the charter fleet out here. For someone looking for the ultimate in comfort level this would probably be near the top of the list. The gyro should really help with sea sickness Im guessing. Ive yet to run this boat but I will run it occasionally. I dont know how fly fishing from it would be but I'm sure doable.

The standard 30' boats he owns is what I am most familiar with. 3-4 people could fly fish off those boats at one time, depending on ability level. At a minimum, 1 person casting from the bow, and one in each stern corner. A 4th or even 5th, on each side between the cabin and the stern could be possible with experienced casters capable of creative casting. I've cast from that position and it's doable. Ultimately on a fly trip there is no way all 6 people could fly fish at once no matter the boat, so some sort of rotation would be in order. Or, be willing to have some of the group fly fish while others fish gear and then rotate.

Experience wise, Mark Coleman has done a lot of fly fishing all over the world and has done some fly only trips. His other captains would be Ian Winder, myself, and a 4th still being worked out. Ian is also an experienced fly angler as he guided fly fishermen in Alaska when he was younger. That leaves me, and I'm no stranger to fly fishing. Quite honestly out of the people I am familiar with out there I am by far the most interested and excited about fly fishing for albies.

If you want to do a standard trip and bring along a fly rod, Im guessing most of the boats would be OK with it. If you want to fly fish only, I'd highly recommend All Rivers simply because I know for sure they embrace fly fishing, and IMO the boats are the easiest to fly fish from and the captains are the most experienced and open to it. Just my opinion of course. I know I am currently scheduled to run at least 5 days this summer with fly only customers.

Gear wise none of the boats will provide fly gear so be prepared to bring your own gear and flies. That said, anyone who comes out with me will have access to my gear and flies. I will have 3 12 wts onboard this summer, as well as flies. (Mostly because I like to throw flies every chance I get! But I have no problem with people using my stuff).

Cost wise, the going rate for a six pack trip is about 425. This does not include fish cleaning if desired. For All Rivers specifically, 4 dollars a fish will result in hitting the dock with all your fish loined and bagged so we tie up and you grab your stuff and head out. Our deck hands cut on the run in and are very skilled. I know other boats are getting on board with cutting on the run in, but I dont know for sure that they all do it yet. That processing fee is some of the best money you could spend. Our deckhands will do in an hour what would take a lot of people 4+, and its sooooo nice to go home after a long day without worrying about cutting your fish.

For us I know Mark is charging a little extra for trips on his new, big fancy boat. I believe 480 per seat is what he settled on.

I believe Shake and Bake charges 500, perhaps slightly more. Again that boat is definitely on the luxurious end of things.

I know I talk up All Rivers a lot, but all the six pack boats are great. I do believe All Rivers is the best. Yes I am biased. But I truly believe that. Mark has been doing this the longest, and runs the most trips every year by a large margin. His reputation as a fisherman and charter owner is top notch and easily verifiable. I wouldn't hesitate to go with any of them but I do believe ARSC is the best and not just because I work with them lol. Mark has a staggering network of intel coming in at all times from all up and down the coast, including from commercial boats. That alone is worth its weight in gold in a fishery where finding the fish can be the biggest challenge. Mark also owns a commercial albacore boat who provides us with daily intel. His boats are top notch. He spares no expense.

South of Ilwaco and I'm just not familiar with the boats. That said from reputation I wouldn't hesitate for a second to go out on Meanwhile!

Anyone interested I'd highly recommend booking a trip soon as these trips book fast. I don't know how this summer will compare to years past simply due to the virus situation, but generally by mid May All Rivers specifically is booked up for almost all dates, especially weekends and prime time. So whoever you go with, don't wait too long.

Ive said it before, and Silverfly mentioned it here, but while I truly do encourage anyone to book with us and specifically me, this doesn't benefit me in any real way. Come tuna season I will be booked 7 days a week regardless. I'm just an employee, I'm not trying to drum up business for myself and my business. Where it benefits me is simply fun factor. If I have fly fishers onboard I just get to hang out and fish with "my people" lol. Albacore is insanely popular and none of these outfits struggle to book trips. There is zero competition between any of us. We all work together daily, talking on the radio and helping to insure everyone is successful. I highly enjoy that type of environment.

Plenty here have PMed me with questions and I am more than willing to help in any way I can. That certainly doesn't just apply to someone interested in booking with us. More than anything I just encourage anyone and everyone to give this fishery a try. Its incredibly unique and a lot of fun whether gear or fly fishing. If interested in booking with us, I don't do any of the bookings, Marks wife Merry does all of that and she is amazing at her job. That said I can certainly help facilitate things, answer questions etc. And I am in communication with Merry often. If someone specifically does want to go with me she can definitely make that happen.

It's great to see all the interest in this fishery. I can't say enough how incredible it is. The grab and initial run of an albacore hooked while casting flies is like nothing I've ever experienced. Running offshore into the blue water is a whole new world and I truly encourage everyone to try it. It is a physical trip, and I really do emphasize that. But its one you'll never forget I promise that.
 
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SilverFly

Active Member
To the best of my knowledge there are zero guides/charters that specifically run fly fishing trips for albacore. Perhaps there is one out of one of the Oregon ports south of the river that I'm not familiar with, but I don't know.

So your best bet is to find a boat/captain/company that is at least OK with you bringing fly gear, and along those lines there are some options that are better than others.

I know some of the large, slow boats will let people bring a fly rod. What I don't know is how enjoyable and or difficult the physical act of fly fishing off one of those large boats is. Just never done it.

I am at least familiar with all of the six pack charters out of Washington and Ilwaco.

Shake and Bake is an awesome boat. Never been on it but we work with Mike and crew on the tuna grounds a lot. It has to be one of the most comfortable and luxurious boats in the fleet (although there are other options closing in on that every year). They do charge more per seat than most, Im guessing due to the quality of the boat. Ive never seen them with fly fishers on board but I know they've done it. I don't think the boat itself would be my first choice for a fly only trip, just due to the layout and design of the boat. (Not sure if casting off the bow is feasible on that boat?) But if you're looking to do a standard gear trip and simply bring along a fly rod just in case I'm sure it would be fine. I'd say on average the run out of Ilwaco is a bit shorter than the run out of Westport but that's not always the case. Every year is different. The downside of Ilwaco is the Columbia bar, which puts many limitations and cancelations on trips. That bar is no joke.

Mark Youngblood runs what appears to be a great six pack out of Ilwaco. He has a nice boat, seems like a good guy, and catches a lot of fish. I don't personally know how open he is to fly fishing.

There's an outfit with a boat called the Liberty Gun that is a bad ass boat. Its like a 36' Yellowfin center console that is an incredible boat and I'd imagine would be amazing to fly fish from. I just don't know much about them.

The biggest advantages of Westport is that it's the closest for most of Wa, it always has live bait (the further south you go the more limited access to live bait is), and the bar is much more manageable. In 5 years I've seen the bar cause exactly 2 cancelations. Basically it's just not an issue for us.

As far as six pack boats in Westport, I know all of them would at least be ok with you bringing fly rods along. Kerry Allen who owns Offshore Northwest, runs a 28' Parker. He's a fantastic guy and a ton of fun to fish with. I know he's open to the idea, and has had fly guys onboard. However I know Kerry well and he simply has no fly fishing specific knowledge so that's a trip where he would be fine with doing it and getting you out there but isn't going to be able to provide much guidance or anything for the actual fishing.

Same goes with Patrick Walker, Tailwalker Charters. Pats a good fisherman and fun to fish with. He owns a 32' Coldwater aluminum walk around pilot house that would be very fly fishable, would be open to the concept, but has no fly experience to speak of. This year he's leasing a 2nd boat, a slightly larger and newer Coldwater very similar to the one he owns, who will be captained by Chris Dearth. Chris is as nice as they come, and lots of fun. Again zero actual fly experience.

Darrel Johnson runs Far Corners Northwest. He owns a boat that is, I believe around 33'. Its sort of a modified center console. Darrel is a very good fisherman. He also leases an incredible, restored Bertram boat that is a thing of beauty. Darrel has plenty of fly experience, he guides steelhead when he's not on the ocean, and has guided many fly guys. Ive never personally seen him with fly fishers targeting albacore but I'm certain he has done it and would probably be up to do it again but I can't say for certain.

There are two or three newer six packs out there that I'm not as familiar with, however I'm certain if someone had a group of six and wanted a fly only trip I'm guessing they'd do it. Fly money spends the same after all. I just don't know that there is much actual fly experience there.

All Rivers and Saltwater Charters is who I work for out there. Mark Coleman, up until this season, has owned (4) 30' Defiance fiberglass pilot house boats. Mark basically brought the concept of smaller, faster boats running day trip, or "express style" tuna trips to Westport. This off season Mark sold one of his boats and bought a 42' boat that he is currently finishing up now. This boat could potentially be the nicest in the fleet when its done. It will have triple 300 outboards, suspension seats, forward racks to lie down, and most interesting to me a Seakeeper gyro system. For those unfamiliar with a gyro it basically limits the boat's side to side roll when on drift. This is pretty new technology, especially to smaller boats, and to the best of my knowledge is the first of its kind in the charter fleet out here. For someone looking for the ultimate in comfort level this would probably be near the top of the list. The gyro should really help with sea sickness Im guessing. Ive yet to run this boat but I will run it occasionally. I dont know how fly fishing from it would be but I'm sure doable.

The standard 30' boats he owns is what I am most familiar with. 3-4 people could fly fish off those boats at one time, depending on ability level. At a minimum, 1 person casting from the bow, and one in each stern corner. A 4th or even 5th, on each side between the cabin and the stern could be possible with experienced casters capable of creative casting. I've cast from that position and it's doable. Ultimately on a fly trip there is no way all 6 people could fly fish at once no matter the boat, so some sort of rotation would be in order. Or, be willing to have some of the group fly fish while others fish gear and then rotate.

Experience wise, Mark Coleman has done a lot of fly fishing all over the world and has done some fly only trips. His other captains would be Ian Winder, myself, and a 4th still being worked out. Ian is also an experienced fly angler as he guided fly fishermen in Alaska when he was younger. That leaves me, and I'm no stranger to fly fishing. Quite honestly out of the people I am familiar with out there I am by far the most interested and excited about fly fishing for albies.

If you want to do a standard trip and bring along a fly rod, Im guessing most of the boats would be OK with it. If you want to fly fish only, I'd highly recommend All Rivers simply because I know for sure they embrace fly fishing, and IMO the boats are the easiest to fly fish from and the captains are the most experienced and open to it. Just my opinion of course. I know I am currently scheduled to run at least 5 days this summer with fly only customers.

Gear wise none of the boats will provide fly gear so be prepared to bring your own gear and flies. That said, anyone who comes out with me will have access to my gear and flies. I will have 3 12 wts onboard this summer, as well as flies. (Mostly because I like to throw flies every chance I get! But I have no problem with people using my stuff).

Cost wise, the going rate for a six pack trip is about 425. This does not include fish cleaning if desired. For All Rivers specifically, 4 dollars a fish will result in hitting the dock with all your fish loined and bagged so we tie up and you grab your stuff and head out. Our deck hands cut on the run in and are very skilled. I know other boats are getting on board with cutting on the run in, but I dont know for sure that they all do it yet. That processing fee is some of the best money you could spend. Our deckhands will do in an hour what would take a lot of people 4+, and its sooooo nice to go home after a long day without worrying about cutting your fish.

For us I know Mark is charging a little extra for trips on his new, big fancy boat. I believe 480 per seat is what he settled on.

I believe Shake and Bake charges 500, perhaps slightly more. Again that boat is definitely on the luxurious end of things.

I know I talk up All Rivers a lot, but all the six pack boats are great. I do believe All Rivers is the best. Yes I am biased. But I truly believe that. Mark has been doing this the longest, and runs the most trips every year by a large margin. His reputation as a fisherman and charter owner is top notch and easily verifiable. I wouldn't hesitate to go with any of them but I do believe ARSC is the best and not just because I work with them lol. Mark has a staggering network of intel coming in at all times from all up and down the coast, including from commercial boats. That alone is worth its weight in gold in a fishery where finding the fish can be the biggest challenge. Mark also owns a commercial albacore boat who provides us with daily intel. His boats are top notch. He spares no expense.

South of Ilwaco and I'm just not familiar with the boats. That said from reputation I wouldn't hesitate for a second to go out on Meanwhile!

Anyone interested I'd highly recommend booking a trip soon as these trips book fast. I don't know how this summer will compare to years past simply due to the virus situation, but generally by mid May All Rivers specifically is booked up for almost all dates, especially weekends and prime time. So whoever you go with, don't wait too long.

Ive said it before, and Silverfly mentioned it here, but while I truly do encourage anyone to book with us and specifically me, this doesn't benefit me in any real way. Come tuna season I will be booked 7 days a week regardless. I'm just an employee, I'm not trying to drum up business for myself and my business. Where it benefits me is simply fun factor. If I have fly fishers onboard I just get to hang out and fish with "my people" lol. Albacore is insanely popular and none of these outfits struggle to book trips. There is zero competition between any of us. We all work together daily, talking on the radio and helping to insure everyone is successful. I highly enjoy that type of environment.

Plenty here have PMed me with questions and I am more than willing to help in any way I can. That certainly doesn't just apply to someone interested in booking with us. More than anything I just encourage anyone and everyone to give this fishery a try. Its incredibly unique and a lot of fun whether gear or fly fishing. If interested in booking with us, I don't do any of the bookings, Marks wife Merry does all of that and she is amazing at her job. That said I can certainly help facilitate things, answer questions etc. And I am in communication with Merry often. If someone specifically does want to go with me she can definitely make that happen.

It's great to see all the interest in this fishery. I can't say enough how incredible it is. The grab and initial run of an albacore hooked while casting flies is like nothing I've ever experienced. Running offshore into the blue water is a whole new world and I truly encourage everyone to try it. It is a physical trip, and I really do emphasize that. But its one you'll never forget I promise that.

This is gold right here folks ^. At the risk of sounding like a total suck-up, we are extremely fortunate to have Captain Nick on WFF as an offshore resource. There are literally thousands of square miles of water to cover out there. So the value of having a charter captain on here, with his connections, depth of experience, AND a deep passion for fly fishing, cannot be overstated.

Nick, thanks for "insider" scoop on openness to fly fishing among your circle of the PNW charter fleet. Great to know that there are other captains who would consider it, or may even be fly fishers themselves. Seems it may be more a matter of not knowing how to go about it with tuna. I suspect a lot of these captains would be shocked at how well FF can play with conventional. This is especially true with the use of deep-sinking lines. Hell, we set a new boat record on Meanwhile last year doing a mixed fly/gear trip. That was Captain Kevin's first experience with fly fishing for tuna and it certainly opened his eyes. Would love to see more eyes opened, but that will take more fly fishers giving this a shot.
 
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Joepa

Joe from PA
Plenty here have PMed me with questions and I am more than willing to help in any way I can.

Very True. Nick is an awesome resource for this fishery (and others). I love everything that goes into the makings of a successful tuna trip except perhaps for the fill the boat mentality. I've been uneasy and conflicted with the "no limit" concept. Although I've bonked my share of longfins, I've also done a trip where we released every fish we landed and it was equally rewarding, and a lot less work back at the dock.
 

Nick Clayton

WFF Supporter
Very True. Nick is an awesome resource for this fishery (and others). I love everything that goes into the makings of a successful tuna trip except perhaps for the fill the boat mentality. I've been uneasy and conflicted with the "no limit" concept. Although I've bonked my share of longfins, I've also done a trip where we released every fish we landed and it was equally rewarding, and a lot less work back at the dock.


I really agree regarding the limits and focus on plugging the boat. The kill kill kill and plug the boat mentality is probably the thing that wears on me the most running a tuna charter.

It's a strange concept to fish for a day, come back with 15 or 20 nice sized, great eating fish, and have it be a let down because we didn't plug.

I think a limit is coming to WA at some point. Hopefully it doesn't become like the rest of our fisheries.

I mean, I eat a lot of tuna, so I get the conflicted part. But so many people are so focused on maximizing the catch to the point that they kinda miss out on the awesomeness of the whole experience. My family eats a lot of tuna, can't deny that. Still we probably eat maybe 7 or 8 fish total during a year. I dont know how some people do it, doing multiple trips a year plugging each time. I also think a lot of first timers under estimate how much meat 4 or 5 fish really is. When I was a deckhand cutting 40-60 fish a day most days I often wondered how much of that went to waste.

I always try to encourage people to be honest with how much fish they can actually eat and utilize, and not to take more than they need. Especially when I have a group that books the whole boat, and even more so if its only 3 or 4 people. If I have 4 customers onboard and we put 40 fish in the box that's 10 fish each. That is a LOT of meat.

On the flip side I do wonder how these fish handle being caught and released. Would be cool to see some albacore specific studies into that.

Hopefully this summer we can actually get the chance to hookup for a beer, Joe! As usual, feel free to hit me up for some fresh intel if you're making the trip to the coast.
 

Gregobr

WFF Supporter
Count me in for sure on a fly boat with Nick. I’ll just keep fingers crossed that non resident licenses will be available by then.
 

PezVela

Active Member
We fished out of Garibaldi with Kelly Bestwick (don't think she's still running a boat now) ... and caught maybe 20 albacore on a fly between the four of us. I think what made it such a great trip (besides Kelly knowing where the tuna were) was we were lucky enough to get live anchovies for chum. When she found the fish, she'd toss a handful of anchovies in, and the tuna would go crazy! She liked our flies, but thought the fish would eat a shoe once they were spooled up! The one I'm holding did 200 yards before it changed direction...

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Nick Clayton

WFF Supporter
@bk paige sent me a PM regarding pricing for the boat if 4 people wanted to book a private boat. I reached out to the owners and got the info, and passed it along to Brian.

Rather than clutter up this thread with talk of prices and scheduling and such Id suggest someone organize a group PM with folks interested where this could be discussed.
 

Nick Clayton

WFF Supporter
We fished out of Garibaldi with Kelly Bestwick (don't think she's still running a boat now) ... and caught maybe 20 albacore on a fly between the four of us. I think what made it such a great trip (besides Kelly knowing where the tuna were) was we were lucky enough to get live anchovies for chum. When she found the fish, she'd toss a handful of anchovies in, and the tuna would go crazy! She liked our flies, but thought the fish would eat a shoe once they were spooled up! The one I'm holding did 200 yards before it changed direction...


Yeah when albacore are feeding that aggressively there isn't much they won't eat.

What's amazing to me is how they can go from feeding so wrecklessly that sticking ones hand into the water becomes a risky proposition, to being as selective as any spring creek trout.

Pretty incredible fish.
 

bk paige

Wishin I was on the Sauk
All right all right, things are ON for an August trip with Nick. Silverfly, Cabazon, Denwor54 and myself have booked 2 days of abuse, this is going to be so much fun!
There might be 1 spot open for 1 day and I have reached out to those that have PMed me and will go from the order I received messages. I appreciate all the inquiries and sugest talking to the othe members and plan a trip, whats the worst that can happen!
 

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