2019 albacore catch blows old record out of the water

Oregon

Recreational anglers have pulled in 6.6 fish per trip this season on average

OREGON COAST (KOIN) — The Northwest is seeing a big comeback after two lackluster years of albacore tuna fishing. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the 2019 season has the “highest overall recreational landings ever observed in Oregon.”

The total albacore catch through Sept. 15 is estimated at more than 100,000 fish. Compare that to 2012 (the next best year) when 63,167 recreational albacore were landed.

albacore odfw graph
This graph shows the albacore catch from previous years. Until now, 2012 had the best catch (ODFW)

Pacific City saw some of the best albacore fishing during the first week of September. Anglers there hauled in 9.28 tuna on average.

According to ODFW’s report, Depoe Bay has been seeing an average of 5.3 tuna per angler. That’s right in the realm that Loren Goddard, co-owner of Dockside Charters, ranks as “good.” He said he’s happy when customers go home with four to eight fish.

albacore tuna dockside
Dockside Charters in Depoe Bay says the number of albacore close to shore has made for many successful fishing trips this season (courtesy Dockside Charters).

Prime time for albacore normally starts in July and lasts into mid-September, Goddard said. This year, the fish could stick around for another month.

“I think we’re going to keep seeing the fish here well into October,” he said. “Just need the weather to cooperate.”

The improvement in the number of albacore comes after two hard years for charters. In 2018, the total catch for the season was around 25,000 fish. Goddard said Dockside Charters canceled more trips than not last year. The weather was bad and the fish were far out to sea. Goddard said the commercial fishers were going some 200 miles offshore, something that’s not possible for recreational fishers doing day trips.

Contrast that to earlier this week when Goddard said their charters were fishing about 19.5 miles offshore, which saves the company money on gas and gives fishers more time for, well, fishing.

That paid off on Saturday when “The Tacklebuster” put 101 fish on deck for seven anglers.

Warmer water is one reason the fish are coming closer to shore, according to Eric Schindler of ODFW.

“That’s not necessarily good for some other things,” Schindler said. “But for albacore that warm water does tend to bring the fish in closer and more accessible.”

Anglers are also seeing a lot of smaller tuna, which is actually a good sign for the future.

“We’re looking at a very good chance that next year’s gonna be very good,” Schindler said. “So we’ve got a good, strong year class coming in with a lot of fish that hopefully will show back up off the coast here and hopefully we’ll have good weather again next year.”

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