For a few years now I've wanted to go chase some tuna in Oregon. I've seen boats come back to the dock and heard their stories about how they had to quit fishing after only a couple of hours because their arms were so tired. My brother and I were pretty bummed when we found out that it wasn't tuna time quite yet when we were over there for the reunion (see previous post). We went home with the resignation that we'd probably have to wait till some other time to do the tuna thing.
I was paying attention to the fishing reports, and lo and behold two weeks after we got back home, it was tuna time. I must have been moping around the house pouting about it, because my wife (who was about to earn some serious brownie points) said 5 of my favorite words: "Honey, why don't you go?" I think sometimes that slips out of her mouth before she realizes it and she regrets it later, but it always makes my day, and I think that's what she's going for. But anyway I didn't argue with her and soon had concocted a pretty good plan (or pretty stupid, I'm not sure which). But I also got my brother Robert to go along with it. We didn't want to make life too hard for our wives so this was to be as quick a trip as possible, strictly fishing, no nonsense....or sleeping. Neither of us could miss work on that Friday. So we planned to leave after work, drive the 8 hours to Depoe Bay Oregon, sleep somewhere in our car, fish Saturday, and drive home that night (I know, stupid right?).
I think we left at around 3:00 or 4:00 pm and booked it to the coast. We got there around midnight and parked in a campground parking lot that I had actually slept in before on a previous trip. We were both pretty tired so we didn't waste any time getting comfortable and settling in for the night, and by that I mean tipping our seats back - not exactly the Hilton. Around an hour later I heard a car door and saw a flashlight shining on my car. Being the brave guy that I am I pretended that I didn't notice and acted asleep. After the dude/Chester-the-molester/alien with the flashlight left, I hoped we would be left in peace. However, 20 minutes later more flashlights came and this time somebody knocked on my window. Turns out "Chester-the-molester" was actually the camp host who had called the sheriff on us for failing to register with him. So after being strip searched and water boarded (I may be embellishing just a tad here), the sheriff politely asked us to leave, and so we tucked our tails and did as we were told. We found a new parking lot to sleep in, this one highly recommended by the sheriff himself. I think I finally got to sleep somewhere around 3:00 am. Needless to say I was VERY angry when my alarm clock rang 2 hours later, but we were excited for what lay ahead so we got up anyway.
We pulled out of the dock bright and early at 6:00 am and started the 30 mile boat ride, which turns out, takes a good two hours. Being the prepared guy I am, I was wearing my normal hiking shoes and regular khaki pants. I regretted this decision about 5 minutes into the trip. I sat on the back deck of the boat. The spray from the bow had me dripping wet in no time, but I couldn't go inside the cabin because that would make me sea sick and then I'd have to worry about "spray" coming from my mouth, so there I sat in the wind and spray getting wet and cold for two hours. We finally slowed down and the deckhands started to get the gear ready. I went inside for what couldn't have been more than thirty seconds to take an other Dramamine, and as I was swallowing I heard, "FISH ON!" I hadn't even realized we were fishing yet and we had our first fish on!
Robert and I hurried up and picked out our rods and got them in the water and a few minutes later mine doubled over (Robert's probably did too, but I was distracted by this point) and line started screaming out. I managed to get it out of the rod holder and began battling my first albacore ever!
It took a few minutes but we were using 80 lb braid on heavy action Shimano rods so we could put the mustard to them pretty well. Pretty soon I saw color and called for the gaff and in short order there was a whole bunch of tuna fish sandwiches flopping on the deck at my feet.
Here's a few things that I learned about tuna:
1. They have WAY more blood than other fish and they're not afraid to share.
2. Their body is too stiff to flop around like a normal fish, they just beat their tail really fast without moving the rest of their body.
3. They have little rudders back by their tail that they can move from side to side.
4. If you try to hold one that doesn't want to be held, it will try to shake your arm out of the socket (See the picture below. Note how blurry my hand is, that's not a camera trick, plus I have my "Don't shake my arm off!" face on).
That morning ended up being one of the most exciting I've had. There were times when we would hook 4 or 5 fish at a time, so people were chasing their fish all around the back of the boat trying not to tangle with the next guy. I also figured out a trick to catch a few more fish; when somebody would hook a fish, they yelled "FISH ON!" the captain would then put the boat in neutral and the boat would glide to a stop, but if I reeled just right and kept my lure going the same speed, I could sometimes get bites on the surface right next the boat where I could watch the whole thing. It was the coolest top-water bite ever!
I ended the day with 13 fish landed, one that broke off, one that I let the guy next to me reel in because I'm nice, and one that bit while I was barfing so I was in no state to reel it in (the guy next to me got another freebie). For the boat we ended up with just shy of 60 fish landed. They were all pretty much the same size, from probably 15 to 25 lbs, though my bro got one that was a little bigger (or he was holding it just right, I'm not sure which).
To top it off, the boat ride itself was actually pretty awesome. We saw a few big blue sharks cruising the surface, a pair of orcas, and breaching humpback whales on the trip back to the harbor, though I actually missed the humpbacks because I was sleeping (tired out from a combination of sleep deprivation, fighting fish, and showing everybody what was inside my stomach).
Before started this adventure I decided it would be a good idea to try and get a picture holding two of them in each hand and one in my teeth. Don't tell my dentist, but I gave it a shot. You can't really tell from the picture but it was actually pretty tough to pull off. Bear in mind I'm holding 40 lbs of fish in each hand and 20 lbs in my teeth. Was it worth it? I submit that it was.
So to make a long story even longer, by 7:00 pm we had all our fish cleaned and packed up and headed home. I almost creamed a dear outside of Portland, took a couple wrong turns along the way, and got pulled over just outside of Lewiston for speeding, but that was about par for our adventure. By 4:00 am (now Sunday morning) I was tucked safely in bed. I was tired, so I went to sleep.
Here's a little video I put together:
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