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Bud Neville's Blog

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010
He scores!
Thursday, October 07, 2010

Tuna scene

Finally, some tuna! Unfortunately for many of the boats that traditionally chase albacore, conditions appear to favor the north end of the state again this season. Last year this time, the best tuna bite was even farther north, off of Eureka, Crescent City and Southern Oregon. This year, the tuna water push has arrived for anglers out of Fort Bragg and Shelter Cove as well.

But fair is fair; bottomfishing is closed for these ports, so the arrival of some tuna is sure to perk up the landing activity.

To the south, some tuna success has arrived for San Francisco anglers fishing on board the Bass Tub. While the action wasn’t stellar, the decks were bloodied. Now calling his boat the “Tuna Tub” in jest, Captain Erik Anfinson said they spent the day fishing between the Gumdrop and Pioneer seamounts.

For Monterey Bay based boats, the tuna have remained frustratingly offshore. Get ’em in closer, and each of the three major landings will launch tuna assaults.

This past week turned stellar along the north coast as a surge of warm water pushed in to Shelter Cove, where rumors had it tuna were caught within four miles of the beach. Down at Fort Bragg, Captain Randy Thornton stuck a fishing rod over the rail on the Telstar while on a bird watching trip and boated two to 20 pounds, losing a small one at boatside, all within a half hour of fishing. With rockfish, salmon and crabbing season closed, the tuna will spur a nice bit of business if they stick around.

“It figures. The fuel dock closes, and now I’m going to be burning 60 gallons of fuel per trip,” said Thornton. He’s rigged up a diesel transportation system with his pickup. “At least fuel will be about 40 cents per gallon cheaper!”

Eureka anglers hit the fish about a week before, but weren’t looking after Shelter Cove’s bite went off, choosing instead to run south to the sure thing off the Lost Coast.

Last year, Captain Trent Slate on the Bite Me didn’t get tuna bit at all until he booked a trip on a Central California charter boat. This year, he’s landing albacore within 10 miles of the Shelter Cove launch. His trip out over the weekend produced 15 fish, averaging 15 pounds, but up to 22 pounds.

A few years have passed since Central California has enjoyed a reasonable albacore season. Oddly enough, these recent years of cold water temperatures has made tuna fishing tough, but the flip side is that the cold water has lead to some of the richest years of ocean productivity ever recorded. That’s great for ocean salmon survival, and for the health of all of our nearshore fisheries. It’s no secret that great tuna years don’t usually coincide with great salmon years, but we got short changed on both sides this year, at least south of Point Arena.

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