The pacific northwest saw some of the best albacore tuna catch of the decade this past year, a welcome change amidst climate uncertainty.
Fishermen along the Washington and Oregon coasts reported some of the best albacore tuna fishing in years, along with some unusual sightings and bycatch. Earlier this summer, a fisherman reeled in a 92-pound bluefin tuna off the coast of Washington, destroying the previous record set in 2014 – by more than 50 pounds, no less.
The albacore are coming closer to shore than before, sometimes within 30 miles of the docks, resulting in a huge boon for recreational fishermen and guides. One local said he spotted tuna less than 15 miles from shore, an unprecedented distance considering albacore are often found between 40 and 80 miles offshore.
Many fishermen believe this is the result of warmer offshore water, which can dictate where the albacore travel. Many have also seen Pacific blue marlin and striped marlin off the Washington coast, which are more often caught in the warmer waters of the Baja California coast. Additionally, there have been increased landings of bluefin, big eye tuna, mako sharks, and mahi-mahi, all of which are more commonly caught in the South Pacific. The appearance of these warm-weather fish leads many to believe warming waters are the reason for the windfall.
As of late August, Oregon was on track to set a new seasonal record for recreational albacore landings, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said. Long-term local guides have said this is the best fishing they’ve seen in more than 20 years of working. There is no set daily limit for albacore in Washington, meaning fishermen are encouraged to catch as many as they’d like.