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Tuna thrill anglers for one week

On Oregon Waters by Larry Ellis, author badge,

smell like fish. I smell like fish and I'm proud of it. When every feral cat in the neighborhood starts looking at me like Meow Mix on two legs, that's walking verification that I've been spending lots of quality time at the Port of Brookings Harbor's fish-cleaning station. I mean, my shoes are constantly at risk of losing their soles.

For seven straight days, anglers were making the 'royal albascore' while fishing anywhere between 23 and 30 miles out of the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Last Saturday was the best day, when Brookings port samplers counted way over 400 tuna. The number was probably easily over 500 because port samplers cannot count every single tuna that meets the sharpened end of a fillet knife. After all, port samplers are not ubiquitous, like the fog that was blanketing the port toward the end of last week.

Debra Coyle of Brookings caught this 27 1/2 pound albacore while fishing 25 miles out of the Port of Brookings. Photo by Larry Ellis
Debra Coyle of Brookings caught this 27 1/2 pound albacore while fishing 25 miles out of the Port of Brookings last week.

Anyway, I remember walking into the Brookings fillet station being knee deep in tuna carcasses, and loving every second of it. Everywhere you looked, faces were beaming with weary smiles of delight. Some folks caught one or two albacore, while others caught 15 or more.

I was expecting the arrival of the tuna. Any time you have a large projection of salmon that spends most of their time in 100 fathoms of water and 17 miles from shore, that's usually an indicator that perfect 62-degree tuna water is heading our way, and with tuna water of course comes tuna, which is what happened last Saturday and the week previously.

Then as expected, comes the wind, which usually cools off that ideal tuna water below 62 degrees, or pushes it further out to sea. But according to the Terrafin Web site, that tuna water wasn't budging one bit. If anything, it was like Godzilla, a monster of warm water waiting to encroach even further toward shore.

According to the Terrafin stats, there is a wall of hot water backing up that 62-degree water, which means that if the wind dies down, which is what it is expected to happen this weekend and maybe even into next week, anglers fishing out of the Port of Brookings Harbor just might expect to tie into more tuna in the next several weeks.

Disclaimer: I use the words "might", "may" and "could" a lot when I get out my crystal apple and start making predictions.

If it were up to me, I would post Terrafin chlorophyll and sea surface temperatures (SST) every day, but that's not in the cards. So here's what I was seeing on the Terrafin Web site early Friday a.m., the time when my fishing report must be turned in.

At 9:35 p.m., Thursday, Terrafin was only getting a one-star picture on sea surface temperatures, which says that the fog was making it difficult to get a clear satellite photograph. Even then, there was a patch of 62-degree water 32 miles from shore paralleling Brookings'


But early at 11:01 a.m., there was a 2-star photo showing 64-degree water only 26 miles from the Port of Brookings Harbor. And the National Weather Service was predicting less than 5 knot winds 15 miles from shore for today and into next week, with 11- to 14- knot winds out about

27 miles. 11-knot winds are definitely doable, but 14 knots are pushing the envelope.


With warm seas and a southwest swell predicted, and especially with all this fog, there is an extreme likelihood that 62-degree water could encroach upon the shoreline as close as 15 miles. But that's yet to be seen.

But there's also a thing called chlorophyll, which tells you where the clean, blue water is, and chlorophyll readings have remained remarkably stationary all week, with blue water visible about 27 miles from Brookings.

And due to the remarkable stability of the chlorophyll and SST readings, I would expect tuna water to be within range of the sport boat community some time this weekend or into next week. That's with a little bit of luck. And we all could use some of that stuff.

Larry Astell from Jacksonville, Oregon whacked this Chinook in the ocean last week while fishing 120 feet on-the-wire out of the Port of Brookings Harbor, photo by Larry Ellis
Larry Astell from Jacksonville, Oregon whacked this Chinook in the ocean last week while fishing 120 feet on-the-wire out of the Port of Brookings Harbor. Photos by the author

We do need to catch a break in reduced wind, and as everybody knows, the weather can turn good or bad on any moment's notice. Being an optimist, I'm hoping for the weather to turn good.

What everyone is hoping for is for the winds to die down to 10 knots or below approximately 27 miles offshore at some point. If that scenario occurs, anglers will again be knocking the socks off of the albacore.

In the interim, this weekend's and next week's forecast of 5-knot winds close to the Port of Brookings, combined with a 2- to 3-foot swell should give bottom fishermen all the lingcod and rockfish that they can handle.

Folks in the Brookings area definitely live in fishing Heaven don't-cha-know?

And there's no "might", "may" or "could" about that!

Tight lines!

Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the weekly fishing columnist for "On the Water" for the Curry Coastal Pilot Newspaper. He particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise. On the Water by Larry Ellis is posted with permission of the Curry Coastal Pilot of Brookings, Oregon.

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