The Washington Tuna Classic 2016

Tuna fishing is a little like getting bit by a tick: It gets under your skin and you hope you don’t get the “disease”…

If it weren’t for my former on-air partner, Seattle Seahawk Pro-Bowler Robbie Tobeck and SaltPatrol.com’s John Keizer, my tuna condition would likely have not progressed from acute through chronic to terminal. However, my condition has now degenerated to advanced bait tank installations and after running my Weldcraft for the first time out of Westport over the Grays Harbor Bar I’ve now been observed by my wife ordering extra rod holders and cedar plugs on line. Terminal dude…Terminal.

Like others that suffer from a debilitating condition, it’s often helpful to seek comfort in the company of others with a similar affliction. So it should come as no surprise that a support group meeting should be in order. In this case the “support group” is known as the Washington Tuna Classic where nearly 70 angling teams seek to feed their addiction and feed others by donating all fish caught in this event to Northwest Harvest and the Wounded Warrior Project.

Preparing for a tuna run is a bit of an undertaking with fuel, ice and live anchovies and getting ready for a tuna tourney adds quite a bit to the equation. Regardless, the successful offshore run starts with a pile of preparation the evening before.

The evening before the Washington Tuna Classic the boat is in the harbor, fueled, iced and in tuna mode!

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After we pick up our load of live bait, we wait on the starting line for our check-in with Washington Tuna Classic Tournament Control and we’re underway!

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35 miles offshore, we drop the outriggers get  the gear down and get to searching for birds and jumpers.

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Having the bait tank in the middle of the deck is a huge advantage and allows a quick conversion from trolling to a vertical presentation with live bait and jigs!

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We managed to convert one of our trolling bites to a bait stop, ending up with five tuna on board. Heading into the weigh-in dock, it sounded like the entire fleet experienced tough fishing conditions and an even tougher tuna bite!

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Our five albacore put us on the board and we were hoping for a top ten finish among the 70 angling teams competing in this event! Left to right, Team Evinrude is Robbie Tobeck, John Keizer, myself and Donald Auman.

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At the Award Ceremony, MC’d very expertly by Kevin Lanier, the leaderboard was revealed and Team Evinrude ended up with a 9th place finish with our five fish bag of 103.70 pounds!

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The 2016 Washington Tuna Classic Champs are team Reel Broke with a total of 127.38 pounds of tuna!

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Of course, no WTC podium would be complete without Mark Coleman’s Team All Rivers & Saltwater Charters and they finished a strong second with 125.5 pounds!

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A big thanks to Mitch King and all of the volunteers that make the Washington Tuna Classic the great event that it has become! 

Also, if it weren’t for John Keizer, Robbie Tobeck and Donald Auman we would not have enjoyed the success we experienced during this event. It was the first time that I had run my boat offshore for tuna and I’m fairly certain it won’t be the last.

The only way to ensure that you won’t get infected by the tuna disease is to stay inland and not venture out into the warm, cobalt blue water, far beyond…

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Defiance Bait Tank Installation

After his Seattle Boat Show tuna seminar, Defiance Marine Pro-staffer Tommy “Cornfed” Donlin stuck his big ‘ol head into my boat which was on display at the show.

“Where are you gonna put your live bait Nelly?”

“How about this transom fishbox? I should be able to make it flow…”

Cornfed shook his head “You put anchovies in that square box and they’re gonna die before you get to the grounds. You’ve got to have a circular flow to keep them swimming, healthy and the tank has to be round so they can’t hit corners and injure themselves.”

Donlin is a well-known pain in the neck but I knew he was right and heck, there are a number of reasons beyond live anchovy fishing for tuna to install a live well. Shrimping, crabbing, live bait fishing for lingcod and even halibut are great reasons to install a tank. Also, let’s not forget the prospect of jigging herring and putting up your own trays of bait or even fishing them fresh!

Defiance Marine’s DNA is saturated with blue water angling and a quality bait tank is as vital to the tuna fisherman as the downrigger is to the salmon angler. Fortunately, Defiance is recognized as the finest bait tank available and not all that hard for the do-it-yourselfer to install!

First off you’ll need to get organized and get your parts list together including a sheet of one-inch Starboard for the mount. Tank water supply is 1″ and required an 1500GPH livewell pump. The drain is 1 1/2″ and you’ll need a shutoff or seacock valve. Thanks to Harbor Marine at the Port of Everett, it’s a one-stop shop!

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This is the very definition of a “measure twice, cut once” project and it’s vital to make a cardboard template of the tank footprint for an accurate installation.

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Once you’ve got your template, lay it on the deck in your desired location and take a good look around, above and most importantly, UNDER the location!

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The best way to look under your chosen location is to pull up the deck floor which, you’ll have to do anyway to run the electrical and plumbing. On my Weldcraft, I had to plan around a deck support but that will add to the strength of the mount.

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With the deck floor section out of the boat, it’s template time and a jigsaw drill to position the deck plate that will allow access for the plumbing to the tank.

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With the hole cut in the template and the deck floor, we need to trim the template to now fit INSIDE the tank as that’s how it’s going to mount to your deck.

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Lay the template on the Starboard and start making a whole pile of white plastic dust! Make sure you’ve got a fairly accurate fit to the inside of the tank bottom!

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Once you’ve cut the Starboard to fit, it’s time to drill and tap 1/4″ x 20 (threads per inch) hardware into the perimeter of the tank. Four or five will do the trick!

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Time to take all your work back to the boat, cut that nice 1 1/2″ drain hole above the waterline, finish it with a SS hose barb through hull. Add the livewell pump to your water pickup, run the hoses forward and through the deck plate.

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Being careful not to kink the hoses, lay the floor plate back down and fasten it back in place.

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To lay flat on the deck, the Starboard mounting board’s center hole has to be larger than the mount ring of the deck plate. Use the existing deck floor bolt pattern to hold down the deck plate and you’ll have to get one-inch longer hardware to reach!

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Lay the tank down to make the plumbing & electrical connections and you’re almost there! Again, take care that excess hose does not kink!

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Stand the tank up, pop in your perimeter hardware and launch the boat! Test the system for leaks and you now have a 50 gallon bait tank installed!!!

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Removing the tank takes all of five minutes and the only way you’ll know it was there is the plastic deck plate and a wet ring where the tank was…

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I didn’t go into great detail on the transom plumbing aspect because each boat is different and let’s just say that climbing into the transom was not pretty…

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This summer with all the North of Falcon “noise” going on, we’re going to have to be a bit more versatile to get our days on the water. My Defiance Marine bait tank is a HUGE step in that direction!

Give them a call and whatever you do, DON”T tell them TOMMY DONLIN sent you!!!

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

 

Northwest Outdoor Report

Last Clam Dig of 2012 Scheduled
The tradition of digging razor clams on New Year’s Eve continues as WDFW just tentatively scheduled the last razor clam dig of 2012 for December 28th thru the 31st on the Washington Coast. Twin Harbors Beach will open on the 28th and then Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, and Long Beach will open up on Saturday. On Sunday and Monday Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks, and Copalis Beaches will be open to razor clam digging. As many as 20,000 people typically descend on the Washington coast for razor clam openers providing a huge economic boost to small coastal communities.

Dismal Spring Chinook Run Forecast for Columbia River
State, federal, and tribal biologists completed their forecast for Columbia River spring Chinook last week and things don’t look all that rosy for 2013. They forecast a run of just 141,000 upriver springers for the Columbia, the poorest in 6 years. While slightly down from 2012 the Willamatte forecast came in at 59,845 spring Chinook, which is down slightly from last year’s run of just over 65,000. Last year’s spring Chinook run forecast was 314,000 fish and the actual run came in well under escapement at just 203,100 fish. Anglers flock to the Columbia every year starting in early March for a chance to catch what many consider to be the best eating fish on the West Coast.

San Juan Blackmouth Still Good, Brant Numbers Looking Good
Kevin John at Holiday Sports (360-757-4361) in Burlington reports good numbers of blackmouth being caught in the islands when anglers can get out. He says high winds have kept most boats off the water, but when the wind lay’s down the fishing has been very good. Kevin said the Rosario Strait has been the most productive area and the average size has been 8 to 12 pounds. Small spoons like Coho Killers and Kingfisher Lite’s in green or purple with UV on them have been the go-to lure so far. He also reported that biologists will make another flight next week to determine whether the brant season will open in mid-January. He seems to think it will, since brant numbers appear to be up overall over last year.

Puget Sound Shrimpers Get Quota Boost in 2013
The state Fish and Wildlife Commission voted last Saturday to increase the recreational spot shrimp quota to 70% of the overall non-tribal catch in Puget Sound. The increase translates to more days on the water for prawners in 2013. Sport shrimpers in south-central Puget Sound had just two days on the water last season compared to 51 days in 2003. This year, the season will increase to five days in south-central Puget Sound. In the San Juan Islands the spot shrimp season will increase from 6 days last season to 32 days. Shrimpers should check out the WDFW website for a full rundown of the upcoming Puget Sound shrimp season.

Sky and Snoqualmie Steelhead Showing in Flurries
The fishing counter at Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville is reporting steelhead showing up at the hatchery areas on both the Skykomish and the Snoqualmie in flurries and that no big numbers of steelhead have really showed up yet. Most of the fish have been taken later in the morning and they recommend covering as much water from the bank as possible. Three Rivers Marine custom jigs have been taking a lot of fish and they also recommend using a new product called Hevi-Beads, which seems to be working well in very high pressure areas like Reiter Ponds.

Lewis and Elochoman Kicking out Steelhead
Chase Sick from Bob’s Sporting Goods (360-425-3870) in Longview is reporting good steelhead fishing on the East Fork of the Lewis River and also over on the Elochoman River near Cathlamet. Chase says the go-to rig so far this winter has been jigs in either peach or pink under a float. He says any jig with a shrimp color seems to be getting the job done. The best jigs so far have been John’s Jigs and AeroJigs. He expects good fishing to continue for hatchery fish until the wild steelhead show up in February.

Riding the Cowlitz Roller Coaster
Todd Daniels from Tall Tails Guide Service (206-437-8766) said he’s been getting close to his limit of steelhead every day on the Cowlitz River this past week and the fish have been big so far this winter. He’s been working hard to get his clients into fish though and says the bite has been far from spectacular. He said the majority of the fish are being caught very close to the Blue Creek Hatchery and that boaters should bring both yarnies and eggs along. Daniels said bank anglers have been scoring steelhead off and on with jigs under a float, but again nothing spectacular.

IGFA Certifies New World Record Yellowfin Tuna
The IGFA has officially approved the 427 pound yellowfin tuna caught by Guy Yocum on September 28th as the new all tackle world record and the 130 pound line class record. Guy was fishing aboard the El Suertudo (“The Lucky One”) about 100 miles from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico when the big tuna hooked up. It took Yocum approximately 50 minutes to land the huge yellowfin, which was hooked on a Mustad Demon circle hook. Yocum’s world record catch previously belonged to Mike Livingston, who caught a 405 pound yellowfin in 2010 fishing out of Magdalena Bay, Mexico. Since Yocum’s tuna was hooked using a Mustad hook it will qualify him for $1 million in the Mustad Hook-a-Million contest.

Chad Belding at Holiday Sports Next Week
Chad Belding of the popular and entertaining hunting show The Fowl Life on the Sportsman’s Channel will be at Holiday Sports in Burlington on December 29th from 2 to 4 p.m. to sign autographs and talk waterfowl hunting with fans of the show.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Sunglasses You Can Hide Behind

If you’re looking for a Chistmas gift for the sportsman in your life or just want some super cool shades look no further than Costa’s new lineup of polarized sunglasses in AP Realtree camo.

Costa’s camo series is available in their popular Fantail, Blackfin, Double Haul, and Zane frames and of course you can also get them with uber-schwanky 580P glass lenses for the ultimate in color enhancement and glare reduction.

Costa’s 580P glass allows maximum depth perception and light transmission in the early morning and late afternoon when animals and fish are most active and these lenses provide maximum glare reduction.

I know this firsthand because I wear them nearly every day on the ocean in Alaska and when I’m river fishing in Washington where it seems like we have “low light” conditions more often than not. Even on those rainy, drizzly days we’re famous for here in the Pacific Northwest it’s surprising how much glare is cast off the water.

Now I’m all fired up to try the new Costa Realtree camo shades in the duck blind and in the fern-choked blacktail woods of Washington. If they can give me even the slightest edge detecting an elusive blacktail buck in the early morning darkness I’m all over it.

If you haven’t done it already click on over to Costa AP Realtree Camo and snoop around. You can bet these sweet shades will be on my Christmas list!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

 

Time To Go Tuna Fishing!!

We talk on the show all the time about the tuna highway, targeting the warm water, and fishing the edges of the chlorophyll.  If your just listening to the show then you might not have any idea what we are talking about or where you can start looking for this type of information.  Hopefully this blog will clear that up for you and as always, if you do have additional questions, you can leave a question or comment at the end.

The first thing that tuna addicts like myself start looking for is the formation of what’s called the tuna highway.  As you can see on this chart below, albacore tuna that NW anglers target migrate the open ocean between the west coast of the US and Japan.  They arrive on our shores by following the flow of warm water currents to our shores.

While you might look at a sea surface temperature chart  and see the warm water off our coast due to runout from the Columbia and other river systems, the albacore don’t show up until that warm water connects to the warm water south of here.  Once that happens, we have what’s known as the tuna highway and it’s just a matter of time before the albacore show.

In the above example you can see the push of the warm water off the NW coast but it still hasn’t connected to the warmer water off the entral California coast.  In the example below, you can see a solid line of warm water all the way up. Once you see this, it’s time to start looking for a specific spot to target in you area.

Albacore prefer temperatures ranging from 58 to 64 degrees.  With this in mind, many people look for temp breaks, areas where the temp suddenly jumps, before deploying their gear and starting their troll.  The chart below shows the SST’s off the coast of Washington in a little more detail, keeping in mind that adult albacore also prefer depths of  at least 1,250 feet, look for good edges and  temperature breaks of a degree or more as places to start your search.

Once you an area with good temps targeted, the next thing you need to do is look at a chlorophyll chart.  Chlorophyll is a good indication of the amount of plankton, which is essentially the amount of food in the water in a given area.  If you can find a spot that has good concentrations of chlorophyll to match your temps then you have found an area where bait and fish should be concentrated.  You can often see a distinct line of blue and green water, if you do, target this area by trolling in and out and along the edges.

Websites like NOAA, Terrafin, and Ripcharts provide these SSTand Chlorophyll charts and a  special thanks to Terrafin for allowing the use of these charts in this blog.  Now go out and catch some TUNA!