Anglers giddy as speedy albacore arrive in area

Anglers giddy as speedy albacore arrive in area
Anglers aboard the Reel Nast out of Moss Landing searched and found albacore tuna on Tuesday, returning home with six fish from nearly 60 miles offshore.

by Allen Bushnell

Monterey Bay anglers are exultant this week. For the first time in ten years we have albacore tuna in our area. Albacore, also known as “longfins” due to their winglike pectorals, are a much smaller grade of tuna than the mighty bluefin, but historically come in greater numbers and seem more willing to bite. Charter trips for albacore in years past would return from 15-hour trips with scores of 100-150 fish for the highliner boats from our area. For the past ten years, the longfins have moved in from the West as usual, but targeted feeding areas to the North, by Crescent City and Southern Oregon. Last week we received reports of albacore caught near the Channel Islands in Southern California, and the bite has been going on in southern Oregon since mid-July this year. This indicates a good portion of the schooling tuna are below us on the map, while the boats above us on the map were already enjoying very good albacore fishing, sometimes as close as 10 miles from shore. We were bracketed, which meant a very good chance of seeing those fish here in our local waters.
And, here they are! Arthur Melgoza, skipper of Reel Nasty Charters out of Moss Landing forayed out with a few friends on Tuesday on the hunt. They found the warm, deep blue tuna waters some 60 miles offshore west of Monterey. Trolling Mexican Flag tuna feathers at about seven knots, the crew managed to hook and boat six albies in the 10-12 pound range. On Wednesday, a much larger private sport boat headed out from Half Moon Bay. They found some spotty temperature breaks and landed at least one tuna early in the day, but did not hit the jackpot until later in the afternoon. The wind died down, allowing them to reach the Guide Seamount area where they found cool  water, light blue in color bordered by warm water in the 62-64 degree range that exhibited the deep clue clarity that screams ALBACORE!  After that it was a steady pick trolling up fish after fish. They pulled in the lines for the long ride home after boating 19 of the longfin speedsters.
The temperature break looks a little spotty in our area. Tuna chasers are expecting the break will become more defined as these next few weeks proceed. Sea surface temperature maps (SST) currently show a huge body of very warm water stretching from Central California all the way up to the Canadian border. The temp break becomes much more defined, and moves closer to shore as it tracks northward. It’s been mostly windy for the past few months, which is a somewhat abnormal seasonal weather pattern. All are hoping that pattern eases, allowing longer and quicker trips offshore. Lower winds can also serve to solidify the temp breaks and allow the band of warm tuna water to get closer to shore.  
With the giant bluefin tuna already out there just waiting to get picked off, and this new possibility of an actual ALBACORE season developing, we could be looking at an unprecedented tuna fishing frenzy on the Central Coast for now and possible lasting until December.

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