July 2015

July 2015
July 2015
July 2015
July 2015
July 2015
July 2015

Tuna Time 

Thirty to forty miles off the west coast of Vancouver Island exists a fishery so exciting, so cutting edge, that it has quickly become the season end passion of many anglers. There is a six-week window that commences around the middle of August when thousands of Albacore Tuna pass along our offshore waters, within easy reach of our substantial fleet of large fully equipped vessels. For many this is the highlight of the season, and it’s not just about the fishing, but the entire experience.

The adventure starts with a final check of Terrafin websites, the up-dated weather forecast, a hearty breakfast and an early dawn, and a first light departure from Newton Cove Resort in Esperanza Inlet, only fifteen minutes from the open ocean and ideally located to access the tuna fishing grounds. As we travel westward together towards the offshore waters, with never less than two boats, the rugged coastal shoreline slowly fades into the distance. The water changes from its’ inshore emerald green to a deep clear piercing aqua blue. Albatross with six-foot wingspans are gliding effortlessly across the surface only inches above the swells, searching for bait fish. Mega pods of dolphins are dropping by for frequent visits and majestic Humpback whales can provide extra entertainment at any moment. Sunfish will also frequently appear drifting across the surface riding the warm water currents north. The pace begins to slow as the immense body of water below and its rhythmic movements relax you into a trance like state. We are looking for five key signs: correct water temperature; 13-18 degrees Celsius (56-65 degrees Fahrenheit), chlorophyll concentrations (the “Blue Water”), surface activity such as feeding birds, bait fish; a variety of sardines, mackerel, shrimp, squid and of course the frenzied feeding Albacore Tuna. We always have one driver and a deck hand, ensuring that we have two sets of eyes constantly scanning the horizon for these signs.

To enhance our chances of harvesting the tuna we spread out and set the gear to cover a multitude of depths. Be prepared to deal with the full-spectrum of fishing conditions and to address them with an arsenal of lure choices varying in color, size and style. Large crankbait type diving plugs like X Rap Magnum Rapalas and top water lures such as Zukers, Jet Heads and Tuna Feathers work well. We generally troll at 6 to 8 mph with at least two top-water lures and two sub-surface lures.

Keep in mind that Albacore may tend not to strike larger lure sizes and as a rule, darker colors work best early in the morning, on dark days, and in the evenings. As the day brightens, lighter coloured lures become the better producers. As the sun continues to grow stronger, try running the diving plugs deeper in the water. Additionally, as the wind begins to blow and ocean conditions become choppy, Tuna Feathers may become less effective as they spend too much time skipping across the surface. This is a good time to consider switching over to heavier types of jigs.

When we get on the fish the helm commences a figure eight pattern and calls the other boats over to where the action is. It’s important to communicate and co-operate with others in the area. When the action starts, it happens fast, very fast.
It is not unusual for three reels to start screaming at once. It can be utter mayhem; the rush most avid anglers spend a lifetime waiting to experience.

Even though the tuna seem to have five times the strength and ten times the tenacity of a chrome 25lb Chinook, guests somehow manage to bring these relentless torpedoes close enough to the boat to succumb them to the gaff. Once onboard they are instantly bled and submerged into large coolers filled with a concoction of salt ice and seawater for twenty to thirty minutes. When sufficiently chilled, the prized catch is removed and placed on ice for the journey home.

Albacore Tuna is one of our favourite eating fish, whether it be lightly seared or consumed raw with a drizzle of soy and wasabi after being flash frozen for 24hours. The texture, combined with the taste, is like none other. A hard earned, hard fought delicacy for sure.

Beta:

• Never, ever go off shore alone! Always travel with at least one other boat and stay in regular radio contact.
• Pay very close attention to the weather conditions and forecasts. If it is going to blow over 20 knots, stay inside and fish for salmon.
• Find a blog where avid Albacore Tuna fishermen exchange ideas, tips and techniques.
• For the serious tuna fisherman, subscribe to a satellite imagery website such as Terrafin or Seaview for up-to-date and changing current and water temperature conditions, as well as chlorophyll levels. We use these sites to identify three destination weigh points prior to departure each day.
• Take care of your catch! Tuna are warm blooded so they need to be bled immediately, put into a salt ice slur, and then kept on ice. This will require an abundance of storage space on board to ensure they are kept in prime condition. Once back at the dock, clean your catch immediately, then vacuum-pack and flash freeze it.
• Hire a professional, experienced tuna guide for a day or two to show you the ropes. Alternatively, stay at Newton Cove Resort with your own boat and follow us out for the day. We have an endless supply of shaved salt ice and the only Government approved fish processing facility in the area. We would be happy to show you a great Tuna Time!

Tight lines, be safe and Good Luck!

James Fisher & Gibran White
Nootka Marine Adventures Ltd.

 www. nootkamarineadventures.com
1 877 337 5464
Email: info@nootkamarineadventures.com

 

July 2015
Huxley’s Run: 

My 19-year-old daughter Neala watched from the car as I exited the Dollar Store with a kid’s dip net and a bucket in hand.

She didn’t say a word, but her look said everything: “What is the Wizard of Odd doing now? And is he going to embarrass me? Again?”

I had told her we were going for a walk and maybe look for some stranded salmon fry. “And then you’ll buy me lunch?” she asked.

I had been walking the Quinsam River in Campbell River for two weeks at the end of May and early June, and one particular pool had been separated from the main body of the river. Knowing that river as well as I do, I knew the river level might just reach it — eventually. Sometime in November. But it was May and the pool was quickly drying up. Algae was building up, sucking up the oxygen needed for a school of salmon fry that had been stranded there. The forecast for rain was drier than a popcorn fart. The pool’s temperature was rising.
Operation Dry Fry began.

I dipped the net in and let it settle to the bottom. I waited for the fry to swim over it and then lifted. The netted fry were transferred to a bucket of river water, warmed slightly on the sun-baked riverbank. Then they were gently emptied into the main body of the river.

My daugher Neala realized what we were doing and insisted in handling the net.

The net and the bucket cost me $3.98. We transferred 76 fry from the death pool to the river that day. The next day wife Wendy joined us and the two girls rescued at least another 40 or 50 more fry. The day after that, 40 or 50 succumbed to Operation Dry Fry — all from the same small pool.

I know some of the powers that be will frown on this effort, perhaps. Maybe of the opinion we should let nature take its course; that we don’t know enough about salmon rearing. But I knew, as most anglers of substance would know, that those fry were destined to smother, starve or boil to death. And I wasn’t about to let it happen.

And then I realized what a family outing it could be for others. How desperately it is needed with this early hot summer weather, no snow pack, and little in the way of precipitation expected. All across Vancouver Island and BC it could be a great salmon fry saving operation. It would only cost a few bucks and provide a valuable family outing.

So this is Operation Dry Fry and here are some tips to follow for you and your family.

First, net and bucket can be purchased, like I said, for about $3.98.

Secondly, locate a pool of water separated from the main stem of the river. Take a peek in and you will see the fry.
Thirdly, get the bucket of water ready and let it sit on warm rocks for a little. This will help the fry transition from the warmer pool water to the cooler river water.

Fourthly, leave the fry in the bucket for several minutes to help them acclimatize to the water. Don’t hover over them; they will swim frantically around, wasting much-need energy and causing them unneeded stress.
Fifthly, take the buck to the river in a back eddy of slow moving water. Slowly dip the bucket’s edge into the river, allowing the water to flow in.

Sixthly, the fry will swim against the flow of the water leaving the bucket. Slowly tip the bucket until they sense their freedom.

Don’t wait to get a bunch of fry, do it in groups of two to eight.

Try as hard as you can not to create a bunch of sediment by pouring the bucket out. This will stress the fry.
I do know that of the 200 or so fry we rescued, probably one to 10 might make it back. But without Operation Dry Fry, none of them would make it.

 

 

 

 

 

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