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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
.. but first let me start by saying this is not a rant - even though it might sound like one.

I am truly confused as to why there seems to be so little interest in offshore fly fishing in the PNW?

Why?

Salmon fishing opportunities are being taken away to the point that it's almost not worth fishing for them anymore. Steelhead fishing is a pale shadow of what it was even a decade ago. Crowding on many of our rivers, beaches and lakes is getting to the point that fly fishing is no longer enjoyable, and in some cases next to impossible. And virtually all our native fish species have some degree of conservation concern.

And yet, we have a world class fishery at our doorstep which very few fly fishermen seem interested in trying. These fish are abundant, beautiful, and are also incredible fly-eating gamefish that can be released, or retained for delicious eating if one is looking for quality seafood.

While I readily admit this fishery has a number of "discouraging" aspects, not the least of which are cost, frequent weather cancellations, and sea sickness, I fail to see how these factors exceed the torture many put themselves through chasing other species.

Take swinging for winter steelhead for example. Spey gear isn't cheap, and freezing your nuts off day after day to hook a few steelhead isn't for the faint of heart, or those on a Cabela's budget. A season of swinging winter steel on the OP has to cost hundreds, if not thousands, and it certainly isn't for pussies. It takes serious commitment and perseverance for a very few, but special moments. Something I completely understand and respect. It's a passion that can't be ignored.

Well, that's how I feel about fly fishing for albacore tuna. Granted it's a different kind of passion/obsession, but ironically, one that shares common traits with those suffering from a serious steelhead addiction. Just like steelheaders have to wait for that perfect shade of green when the river is falling, and the run is peaked, there are a number of factors that have to come together for ideal tuna fishing. Even when conditions are right and the fish are present, getting a fly in front of them is no guarantee of success. Matching the hatch and making the right presentation are still critical to connecting with these amazing fish. Casting skills can make the difference between putting the fly in a patch of water boiling with 30# fish, or falling short of the action. Like steelheading, it's also very much about "the grab". That magic instant when everything comes together with a bolt of electricity running up the rod and into your shoulder. It's also about knowing what's happening next. Getting them on the reel and experiencing blistering runs that obliterate anything that swims in freshwater.

They are also incredibly beautiful fish and the offshore fishing venue isn't bad either. While there may be no snow capped mountains or towering evergreens, there is no shortage of life offshore. We see whales, dolphin, porpoise, giant sunfish, and many more interesting things in the incredibly clear, blue water out there. And if you like getting away from the crowds, there's are hundreds of square miles of empty, yet fish-filled water to choose from.

Unfortunately, the biggest challenge with fly fishing for albacore seems to be finding like-minded fishermen to share the experience. This is not a solo activity. It's a cooperative endeavor. There's no banking it alone 40 miles offshore.

So please help me understand what it is about this fishery that is such a turn-off? Is it that fly fishing for tuna fishing is perceived as a meat sport when there's no reason we can't fish them C&R? Or, is it the idea that they're mindless eating machines with no real challenge, when in fact they are highly visual and at times extremely selective?

Or does it come down to more pragmatic limitations?

I get that it's expensive. Trust me, I've spent thousands chasing these fish trying to find the best boats and captains to fly fish with. How much have you spent chasing steel the last ten years?

I get that it's frustrating with weather cancellations and unpredictable fishing. How many times was your favorite river blown out, or closed prematurely?

I also get that these are challenges, and challenges are what drive most true passions.

BTW, the ocean is turning "steelhead green" later this week - figuratively speaking of course. :)
 

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Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
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I think for me, it is the boats.
I see the boats being used as great boats, but not really that condusive to flyfishing. They all seem more oriented towards gear fishing with multiple anglers and the cabins seem to take up a lot of valuable space, especially for fly fishing.
I understand the comfort a cabin can offer in poor weather, so there is definitely a trade-off.
I also get that running a charter boat isn't a inexpensive endeavor and the companies need to make a return on their investments, so they are most likely going to utilize a boat that does so.

If someone had something more towards a offshore Yellowfin with less anglers aboard, I'd probably be inclined to get more serious about the local big blue.
That type of boat may not make sense in the NW, but if less anglers per trip were involved and angling time was increased, that would be a selling point to me.

SF
 

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For me it's the cost. For trout and steelhead, the gear is bought, so the cost of a day fishing is gas and maybe my share of a shuttle. I don't have the gear for tuna, so I'd have to buy or rent. It's also the cost of a charter, which is a very visible cost compared to the cost buried in my current gear. I know, not the economist's rational man, but there you go.

Plus, I might like it, and then I have yet another thing that I want to do, where I don't have enough time for my current obsessions. I mean, I haven't been fishing since the end of July, and I'm dying to get back to the Deschutes.
 

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Interest in fishing general is down although not as bad as golf. Maybe 10%? wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/LicenseInfo/Fishing.htm
There's the whole sea sickness thing that takes some right out. Offshore is often not as pure a sport with teasers, gear rods and chum.

Offshore fishing is a team sport and fly fishing is often seen as a solitary activity. That said most offshore fly boats around here are usually just 2 fishers per trip while regular charters are 4ish. How many people do you shoot for on an offshore WA fly trip?

You can set up a cabin boat to fish someone at the bow but it costs money to build a leaning bar and stripping basket plus you need someone agile enough to get there. A walkaround cuddy should work tho.

Take more pics of all the activity besides the fish and post more of them maybe?

I'd be all over it if I were living on that coast. FL has just about everywhere beat for fishing tho. :)

Sent from my LG-H815 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I think for me, it is the boats.
I see the boats being used as great boats, but not really that condusive to flyfishing. They all seem more oriented towards gear fishing with multiple anglers and the cabins seem to take up a lot of valuable space, especially for fly fishing.
I understand the comfort a cabin can offer in poor weather, so there is definitely a trade-off.
I also get that running a charter boat isn't a inexpensive endeavor and the companies need to make a return on their investments, so they are most likely going to utilize a boat that does so.

If someone had something more towards a offshore Yellowfin with less anglers aboard, I'd probably be inclined to get more serious about the local big blue.
That type of boat may not make sense in the NW, but if less anglers per trip were involved and angling time was increased, that would be a selling point to me.

SF
Yeah, I can't argue that most offshore boats are less than conducive to fly fishing. Center consoles offer the best casting but obviously not so great in sloppy conditions. Big boats with spacious bow area are hard to beat as stable casting platforms, but require large crews. Worse, the larger boats with any speed to them are exorbitantly expensive. So there's the trade-off between lower cost and less fishing time, or premium cost for maximum fishing time.

I think the best compromise for a fly charter is a smaller, 4-pack boat with a walk around cabin. Six is just too many for a fly crew IMO. There are a few boats that fit that bill, and one in particular that I really like. It's also just too hard to get that many fly guys together so I gave up on 6 pack charters for fly fishing years ago.

As for gear, unfortunately it's part of the program to get fly action started and continuing. In truth, the best arrangement is a 4 pack charter with 2 fishing gear, either bait or jigging, and 2 fly fishing. The exception being pure run-and-gun fishing which is by far the most exciting.
 

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I know it's a blast. I do it at least once a year and I'm headed out in about a week.

It's just crazy expensive if you want to do it on your own. And it seems like most of the charters fill up for the majority of the season the last few years. So I think it's as popular as it's gonna get unless someone starts making $20K boats that capable of fishing it safely.
 

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I go offshore all the time, but we don't have to run 40 miles to find fish. I love mahi on the fly.

But ahi are good fun as well. We only catch albacore at night or first thing in the morning, we call them Tombo, japanese for butterfly. Mems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I know it's a blast. I do it at least once a year and I'm headed out in about a week.

It's just crazy expensive if you want to do it on your own. And it seems like most of the charters fill up for the majority of the season the last few years. So I think it's as popular as it's gonna get unless someone starts making $20K boats that capable of fishing it safely.
Can't help much with the expensive part, but not seeing the issue with the boats filling up. Maybe some of the larger, higher profile boats but there are better ones for fly fishing. MUCH better that aren't filled. Hence the reason for my posting this thread.
 

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It's expensive. It's a pain in the ass coordinating a trip. For those living in the Puget Sound area it's much further away than other more local options. Finally, I've caught albacore on gear and I don't see the point of fly fishing for them other than to say I caught one on fly gear.

Your original post does sound a bit like a rant. However, I encourage you in encouraging others to pick up offshore fly fishing if it reduces competition in other PNW fisheries. :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It's expensive. It's a pain in the ass coordinating a trip. For those living in the Puget Sound area it's much further away than other more local options. Finally, I've caught albacore on gear and I don't see the point of fly fishing for them other than to say I caught one on fly gear.

Your original post does sound a bit like a rant. However, I encourage you in encouraging others to pick up offshore fly fishing if it reduces competition in other PNW fisheries. :cool:
All very true points. Especially the pain in the ass part about coordinating trips. Getting them on fly vs gear is a personal thing and not everyone's cup of tea. Tried to get my buddy Joe one on the fly last year and he just didn't like it even though he loves fly fishing. I think he was just having too much fun casting swimbaits on spin gear (one of the reasons we were carving fish past midnight). His son Ted however, was a 12weight casting animal.

Sorry, if some of my frustration leaked through. Thank you though for picking up on the fact that I think this is a great fishery that can handle some added pressure when so many others need a break. For that matter, I actually think increased fly fishing attention could do nothing but benefit the fishery. Both in terms of developing more sporting options and and more respect for the resource. While I have no problem with people fishing for meat if they can truly use it, I do think it's time we started seeing some C&R.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

I go offshore all the time, but we don't have to run 40 miles to find fish. I love mahi on the fly.

But ahi are good fun as well. We only catch albacore at night or first thing in the morning, we call them Tombo, japanese for butterfly. Mems.
Just so happens we're coming to Hawaii next summer. :)
 

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Fishing offshore costs hella more than any other kind of fishing. That's why it's not more popular.
What's the cost of a guided river trip these days? I'm willing to bet that its not much less than a seat on an express charter.

How much for a day with a bonefish or tarpon guide? Guys pay huge money for that. I personally do not believe it's the cost.

The boats are definitely not traditional fly fishing platforms but I urge anyone to get out and try fishing off one before automatically ruling them out. It's not a fishery with much false casting. It's all about water loading and shooting. I can fly fish three out of my 19' Arima no problem. Could easily fly fish 4 at a time out of the 29' pilot house boats I work on.

Lots of people just don't seem to enjoy the ocean for some reason
The same guys who complain about a rough ride or nasty conditions will stand in the freezing cold all day long trying to swing up a steelhead. Some people get sick. Some people are scared of it. And plenty of people aren't aware or don't believe these fish are a feasible fly rod target
 

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Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
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Nick,
True about the boats, not all are created equal.
Having fished out of a number of types of boats, I've just found fishing to be a lot more enjoyable the more room you have. Also, a lot of casting was involved in most of those situations.

As far as the number of people, I think for me personally a smaller crew is preferable. A guide / Capt. and two anglers would be my preference. I've caught tuna before, though not Albacore.
After a few tuna, I'd be game to try something else like catching a blue shark. Though not great fighters from what I know, it would still be fun to catch a new to me species on a fly.

With a larger crew, some of which you might not know, it may be harder to get others to try for something else if they are intent on catching tuna.
SF
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Nick,
True about the boats, not all are created equal.
Having fished out of a number of types of boats, I've just found fishing to be a lot more enjoyable with the more room you have. Also, a lot of casting was involved in most of those situations.

As far as the number of people, I think for me personally a smaller crew if preferable. A guide / Capt. and two anglers would be my preference. I've caught tuna before, though not Albacore.
After a few tuna, I'd be game to try something else like catching a blue shark. Though not great fighters from what I know, it would still be fun to catch a new to me species on a fly.

With a larger crew, some of which you might not know, it may be harder to get others to try for something else if they are intent on catching tuna.
SF
It would be no problem to fish for blue shark along side others casting to tuna. They will eat flies too. And yes, they are lousy fighters but I totally get wanting to catch a new species. I will say they are also very sleek and beautiful fish. Aptly named too in shades iridescent blue and purple.
 

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I want to catch one of the juvenile sunfish that have been everywhere lately. Ira had the idea of a jelly fish fly tied with material from a plastic grocery bag. Figure an 8 wt could handle a small one ;)

I'm game to cast a fly to anything out there. Some of the big blues pull pretty hard.
 

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In addition to the expense, the long boat ride out to the fishing grounds, and the need most times to chum the fish in order to get them stirred up to take flies, the biggest turn off for me is that once you have hooked one its more sheer work rather than fun. The fight is more like a tug of war or being hooked up to an 18 wheeler than the quick runs, jumps and sudden changes of direction that a steelhead provides. I am totally exhausted, rather than exhilarated, after landing three or four Albacore. I don't care to fly fish for Chinook for much the same reason and will purposely break any large one off that I hook inadvertently when steelhead fishing. I can understand how it might be exciting for others, but its just not my cup of tea. I'd rather catch 14-18" trout on a light weight rod.
 
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