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Albacore Tuna
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Estevan Tuna
Products were once
available in Victoria
at The Market on
Yates and The
Market on
Millstream stores,
but not now due to
low 2016 catches.
 

Tuna Report 2015


Tuna fishing on MV Estevan for the 2015 season

In general, the 2015 fleet landings are lower by at least 20% and the fish are about 20% smaller. Different year classes of fish follow the currents of our coastal zones chasing plankton forage, so each year may bring a different average size of fish.

We were lucky, at least for July. On our first trip out of Victoria, we headed out through Juan de Fuca Strait to the US - Canada border area known as The Fence. The first day, really not being ready and expecting to catch little, we leisurely set about untangling and setting the lines. As soon as we set them about 11 am, the tuna started to bite non-stop... We had 266 that day and it went on like that for the rest of the month, some days hitting close to 300. I remember one evening when the crew pulled 175 just before pitch dark at 11 pm. Our average for most of the month was around 200 fish.

We were pretty cocky by then, and Tristan and Rex had some bulging biceps to show for all the hard work. Towards the end of July fishing fell off, days of 20 or so, then one of four measly fish. We were nearly full with the second load anyway and had heard reports of fish being caught off Triangle Island and Queen Charlotte Sound. So we unloaded in Victoria, and I took the boat up the inside of the island while the crew, in a lucky twist of timing that rarely happens in fishing, had a couple of days off to enjoy the festivities on the BC Day long weekend.

We took off from Comox dock on the holiday Monday night after weaving down the quay through the throngs out to enjoy the fireworks (gee thanks Comox, what a send-off!) and started up Johnstone Strait for Triangle Island. Of course by then fishing had slacked off, and we started off for Haida Gwaii. The fishing was pretty paltry, an outcome borne out by the water temperature charts, so we backtracked to Triangle Island, then ran down the outside of Vancouver Island, hit some fish off Clayquot Sound for a day or two and ended up right back at the Fence. Six hundred nautical miles circumventing Vancouver Island with a side trip nearly to Haida Gwaii, and the fishing turned out to be best in the area we had left over two weeks before. After 50 years in the fishing business, I know better than to chase fish that are already caught and landed. Well, this time I forgot!
Fishing from the third week of August to the end of September was the more usual grind, marked by engine repairs and bad weather (Ukie was hopping - finally catching up to its flashy sister Tofino) and yes, even a few tuna. Rex jumped ship to return to university, and Tristan and I ground out two more partial trips.

All in all the season was favourable due to a cracking good start, with the bonus that I got the injectors changed on my main engine with the expert assistance from Erik Larsen of Larsen Diesel. Nothing like breaking down during fishing season to focus the mind and get a hard, dirty job done!

In ending, I just have to comment on the plethora of marine life we observed this fishing season---whales, plankton, fish, birds---fantastic! I don't know whether it's due to the particular currents this year or the rewards of the stringent conservation efforts of Canada and US for the last decade, but the ocean was very much alive this summer. At night, drifting around with our lights on to avoid being hit by freighters and other vessels, we were entertained by huge schools of baby sharks roiling about just under the surface of the lit ocean. Whales breached and dolphins frolicked. It is really a privilege to witness such enthralling signs of sea life around a vessel adrift on the "wine-dark sea".

This is a quick recap of three months of Albacore fishing offshore, some good, some not so good, but always interesting.

From the crew of MV Estevan,

Bruce, Tristan, and Rex.

Tuna Report 2016

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Tuna fishing in the Estevan cockpit.
Pulling tuna out on the Pacific Ocean

Frozen tuna in fish hold.
Frozen Tuna in the fish boat Estevan


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