Howdy everyone! Tuna is still a thing out this way and every chance the ocean gives us to get out and fish we are seeing a lot of people bringing in a LOT of albacore! Rockfish remains good to very good, but the lingcod bite is still slow. Crabbing remains poor locally with Winchester Bay being the best bet for a limit of dungeness. We are seeing a few salmon locally and a lot of bait-fish in our bay, but once again Winchester Bay is outperforming us. Darn you Winchester Bay! Just kidding, everyone gets their turn at having a good season that outshines most others.
The Oregon Department of Fraud, I mean Fish and Wildlife recently closed cabezon to all boat fishermen as we somehow reached the quota for the year in record time. In addition to this, all copper, quillback, and China rockfish are to be returned, unharmed, to the sea after catching them from a boat as we have purportedly reached our limit of those as well. If you catch one from shore you may keep it but I personally have never seen or heard of a quillback or China rockfish being caught from the shore; but hey, if your fishing pole is long enough and you have enough line why not. You have possibly already gathered that I am extremely skeptical of this supposed limit being reached. This year was the longest, most protracted blow the ocean has seen in a long time, if not on record. For the first five months there was minimal participation in recreational fishing because the ocean just wouldn't let us play. When the ocean finally did allow us to get out safely and in any numbers the tuna bite opened wide and most of the sport fleet concentrated on that fishery. All in all I would say there was no more than a couple months of decent ocean fishing where rockfish were targeted and any serious effort was put forth. Yet with all of this we have somehow reached our quota. I'm going to remain a non-believer on this one.
Going back to tuna now. The extremely warm waters (for here anyway) and the currents that accompany them are still bringing in exotic pelagic species and we are still seeing dorado, and bluefin with reports of billfish jumping out there as well. These species are all being caught incidentally as we troll for albacore and while the bluefin being caught are generally in the eight to fifteen pound range. One can't help but wonder if there are monsters lurking further below the water where we are not running our gear.
Bluefin tuna can and have reached up to about a thousand pounds and ten feet in length. The ones on our side of the coast are Pacific bluefin while the ones on the other side of the country are Atlantic bluefin. Like duh, I had to read to figure that out. It seems these two are pretty much the same but the Pacific variety are considered a subspecies of the Atlantic variety.
The Pacific bluefin spawn in the Philippine Sea and in the Sea of Japan and will reach maturity at about five years of age. While it is not specifically known how long these critters live, it is likely 15- to 26-years old. Its kind of hard to catch and tag these suckers and raising them in captivity is not a thing, so this accounts for the uncertainty on their longevity. These highly migratory fish spawn from April to August and will bear between five and twenty five MILLION eggs, yes million.
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The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) registered all tackle bluefin was caught on rod and reel by a Donna Pascoe in February 2014. And you know, she lets everyone know about it. Heck, if I catch a twenty pound lingcod or a three pound surfperch I'll strut around for days. So I have no doubt that while Donna did an amazing thing, she no longer gets invited fishing or to family functions.
The accompanied picture to this article is a gentleman that caught a bluefin tuna this season on Chinook Charters out of Charleston. The main way to tell the difference from an albacore are the shorter pectoral fins and generally a stubbier, fuller body, but the fins are the main telltale sign.
If you catch one of these amazing fish just know that Japan consumes over 80 percent of the worlds catch and seven months ago a 618 pound specimen sold for 3.1 million dollars. That means your ten pound fish is theoretically worth over fifty thousand dollars if you consider that the 3.1 million dollar fish equates to $5,016 a pound. Yeah, chew it slowly and kick yourself for not knowing people in Japan.
Whether you are eating a several thousand dollar meal off of paper plates with Rice-a-Roni as a side or just walking along the beach, I hope to see you out there!
Rob Gensorek is the owner of Basin Tackle www.basintackle.net in the Charleston Marina and can be reached by phone at (541) 888-FISH, by Facebook at Basin Tackle Charleston, or e-mail at email@example.com. Robs fishing reports can be heard daily on several radio stations including KRSB Best Country 103 out of Roseburg and his Basin Tackle Outdoor Show can be heard Wednesdays at 3 p.m. on kwro.com. In addition to all this he sometimes actually gets out and catches a fish or two.