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NWWC TUNA REPORT: Pursuing the Northwest's offshore torpedoes
UPDATED Jan. 3, 2010 / 9:30 a.m

Blackmouth Report GraphicARLINGTON, Wash - The albacore tuna fishery off the Washington and Oregon coasts has become big business. Small wonder: the Pacific Northwest has the best albacore fishery in the world. Widen the scope to include the rest of the West Coast and you have perhaps the richest tuna grounds in the world.

The Northwest Wild Country Tuna Report - sponsored by Tuna Dog Offshore, Ballyhood International, Fish Trap and the Oregon Tuna Classic - is your one-stop information center for the tuna ports in Washington and Oregon, and your jumping-off point for the big-game tuna ports along the West Coast.

Secret Island draws first blood: Tuna Time!
TUNA REPORT: Secret Island finds albacore 86 miles out of Newport
POSTED June 28, 2010 / 7:40 a.m.

NEWPORT, Ore. - Back-to-back calls from Bud Hosner of Big Tuna Marine and Del "Tuna Dog" Stephens - who had just spent two hours in the NWWC studio for our June 26 show - confirmed it: the first sport-caught albacore of the year was headed back to port, aboard the Secret Island.

Tron Bull, Chris Powers and the crew of the Garibaldi-based Secret Island connected with 10 silver bullets after a seek-and-destron mission took them all the way out to the 125 5 line, roughly 90 miles offshore.

8SEE THE FIRST TUNA OF THE SEASON and read the entire report on the SI's recent iFish thread.

8FOLLOW THE RECENT iFISH THREAD ON SSTs and the potential arrival of the first big waves of albacore to the Oregon fishery.

NW Wild Country host Joel Shangle on ESPN Outdoors
The "Year of the Super Cow" for long range fleet

NEW Jan. 3, 2009 / 9:30 a.m

Joel Blog MugSAN DIEGO - Heavy gear, ibuprofen, Gatorade and big, big, BIG coolers.

You’re going to need all four of them over the next three months as the “super cows” continue to show up in a stampede in the San Diego long-range tuna fishery. Boats like the Royal Polaris, Excel, Royal Star, Independence, Intrepid, American Angler and Qualifier 105 had already racked up over 330"cow" yellowfin (fish over 200 pounds) and 28 "super cows" (300-plus-pounders) as of this writing, which puts the fleet well within range of the record trophy-tuna haul of 2008-09, when 504 cows and 49 super-cows were bought into San Diego's long-range landings.

Welcome to the "Steroid Era of West Coast Tuna".

CHECK OUT MY NEW COLUMN on ESPNOutdoors.com early this week as I run you through the world's best trophy-tuna fishery.

Oregon Tuna Classic 2010 schedule banner
Oregon Tuna Classic announces 2010 derby lineup

NEW Dec. 12, 2009 / 9:30 a.m

PORTLAND – Start making your July & August albacore plans, tuna freaks: the Oregon Tuna Classic has just released the dates of its four 2010 events. The West Coast's most popular albcore-derby series kicks off July 17 in Newport, and continues to Ilwaco on July 31, Charleston on Aug. 14 and ends in Garibaldi on Sug. 28.

Registration and sponsorship information are available at the Oregon Tuna Classic website.

NWWC TUNA REPORT: Allstate's Brockmann signs on as OTC title sponsor
NEW Dec. 12, 2009 / 9:30 a.m

Blackmouth Report GraphicCORVALLIS, Ore. - Heading into the turn of the year, the West Coast's biggest albacore derby series has already secured a title sponsor. The 2010 Oregon Tuna Classic will proudly welcome Allstate agent Ron Brockmann as the title sponsor of the four-event series, which kicks off July 17 in Newport.

"We feel very fortunate to have a title sponsor who not only gives of his financial resources but someone who is involved as well," OTC organizers announced. "Ron was on a team last year that fished all the events and when he had time was helping with the setup and take down on those weekends."


Meghan leans into it

NWWC TUNA REPORT: Record numbers come out for Ilwaco OTC
NEWAug. 4, 2009 / 11:30 a.m

Del MugILWACO, Wash. - The merchants on the Ilwaco boardwalk are still recuperating from the wave that just came through town.

A record 78 teams registered for the second leg of the Oregon Tuna Classic, and teams of fishermen rode that wave into town late last week as they prepared for the Saturday morning shotgun start. A long line of boats filtered out of the Ilwaco channel in the 5:00 a.m. darkness, resembling a Christmas-boat parade as they made their way to the starting line. Once roll call was complete and everyone was in position, I gave the Coast Guard the word and the crew of a 47-foot motor lifeboat fired a parachute flare into the sky, signaling it was time to fish.

8CLICK HERE to read Del's full report on the first annual Ilwaco leg of the OTC.

NWWC TUNA REPORT: After the catch: tuna care 101
NEW July 21, 2009 / 4:40 p.m

Blackmouth Report GraphicGARIBALDI, Ore. - Even though the albacore tuna limit in tuna is the definition of “generous”, that doesn’t mean that every tuna trip has to result in a deck loaded with dead albacore.

“We need to be responsible fisherman,” says Oregon Tuna Classic organizer Del Stephens. “Only catch as many fish as you can use.”

Andy SchneiderThat seems like an obvious statement, but don’t let a wide-open bite determine how many fish your going to catch. Instead, pick a reasonable number of fish that your crew and you can handle, and aim for that goal.

8CLICK HERE for Andy Schneider's quick-hitter "Tuna Care 101", with critical information about preserving your albacore after the catch.

NWWC TUNA REPORT: Light-tackle puts the "Woo hoo" back in tuna!
NEW July 21, 2009 / 4:40 p.m

Blackmouth Report GraphicGARIBALDI, Ore. - Light-tackle fishing is a way to really start having fun when albacore are on the bite. 

When you’ve had enough long, hard days on the water – made even longer by a marathon at the fish-cleaning station – pick up a spinning rod and start having some fun again. 

Andy SchneiderYou’re not going to put anywhere near the number of fish in the boat as you did trolling clones, cedar plugs and X-Raps simply because of the length of time it takes to bring an albacore to gaff, but you’ll have much more fun!

8CLICK HERE to read Andy Schneider's tips on how to "run and gun" for albacore off the Oregon and Washington coasts.

Green Water Hawg
Green-water hawg hits deck off Garibaldi ...

NEW July 20, 2009 / 3:30 p.m

Blackmouth Report GraphicGARIBALDI, Ore. - The blue water off the Oregon coast has moved offshore more than 40 miles, but that doesn't mean the albacore have gone with it. 

With a favorable forecast predicted for Saturday, I was able to reschedule a day of 'bucking hay' and rounded up a crew with my good friend Tom VanderPlaat and his future son-in-law, Chris.  We pulled into Garibaldi at 4:45 and it wasn't a minute too soon, since a precession of coho anglers pulled in immediately after us and backed the ramp up to the road. 

We headed across a smooth bar, dropped the crab pots, aimed the boat West and hit the throttle ... then immediately pulled the throttle back.  The ocean wasn't rough, but it wasn't smooth either, and we made an average of 16 knots west.

Andy SchneiderGo green: Things didn't start looking "fishy" 'til we hit the 124 45 line (approximately 33 nautical miles from shore). We put some clones out and proceeded to troll west at 8 knots.  We had water temperature (60-degrees), we had birds, we had debris in the water, but we didn't have the blue water that us albacore fisherman crave - in fact the water was still very, very green. I realized that blue water was probably outside of my range and that we would just have to pursue these tuna in the green water.

8CLICK HERE to find out how Schneider and crew did fishing the green water. 

NWWC TUNA REPORT: Newport FINALLY gets their Tuna Classic!
NEW July 20, 2009 / 11:30 a.m

Blackmouth Report GraphicNEWPORT, Ore. - Four years of blowout finally turned into a day of albacore fishing July 18 in Newport as the 2009 Oregon Tuna Classic kicked off.

The first scheduled leg of the West Coast's biggest albacore derby series has been a victim of Mother Nature for the past three years, but despite a "sporty" ocean and 15-mile fog bank that limited visibility to 1/2 mile of Newport on derby morning, 56 teams blasted off Saturday morning.

8CLICK HERE for the story, and final results from the kickoff to the 2009 Oregon Tuna Classic.

Oregon Tuna Classic banner
Ilwaco event added to 2009 OTC lineup

NEW June 22, 2009 / 9:30 a.m

CHARLESTON, Ore. – The Pacific Northwest tuna season is right around the corner, with internet chat forums beginning to buzz with rumors of the first albacore of the season off the Oregon and Washington coasts. Consequently, the pace of registrations has begun to pick up for the Oregon Tuna Classic, the West Coast’s premier four-event albacore derby series.

“Registration and sponsorships are a little ahead of last year’s,” said Del Stephens, organizer of the OTC. “Despite the tough economy, people are rallying to support the cause.”

That cause – and the sole reason the OTC exists – is  “Reelin’ in Hunger”: The OTC benefits the Oregon Food Bank and Ducks Unlimited. Since 2006, over 25,700 pounds of fish and $83,000 dollars have been donated to the Oregon Food Bank through the OTC events. Those donations helped the Oregon Food Bank purchase six pounds of food for every dollar donated, equivalent to a contribution weight of over 498,000 pounds.

Now going into its fifth year, the OTC has positioned itself for another record year of donations and support for the fight against hunger in the Beaver State.

“People really understand what (the OTC) is all about now,” Stephens said. “There’s still plenty of excitement about the individual derbies, but now there’s more emphasis from the communities on what those derbies are really for. There’s more emphasis on the cause.”

OTC registration details: The four-event Oregon Tuna Classic kicks off July 18 in Newport, Ore., and continues on to Ilwaco, Wash. Aug. 1 for the first OTC event ever held in the Evergreen State. The series continues in Charleston, Ore. Aug. 15, and culminates in Garibaldi on Aug. 29.

Versus TV personality Tred Barta is scheduled to be present at the Garibaldi event, and will tentatively shoot two episodes of his hit show “The Best and Worst of Tred Barta” during the OTC.

Registration is ongoing for all four events. Entry fee is $250 per event, or $600 if you pre-register for all four events. Registration information and online registration are available at www.oregontunaclassic.org/registration.

NWWC Countdown to Tuna Graphic
Awaiting the kickoff of the Pacific Northwest albacore season
POSTED June 7, 2009 / 9:30 p.m.

The summer is here and each year there’s always a contest to see who will catch the first albacore off the Oregon coast: when will someone land the first tuna? It’s like the official start of the Oregon and Washington offshore tuna season when it happens.

Del Stephens Blog MugThe seasoned offshore fishermen will tell you albacore have been out there all along, but in the last five years, the traditional salmon fisheries have struggled, leaving offshore fishermen looking for something else to chase. Five years ago on a nice ocean, and in a place like Tuna Town off Depoe Bay, you would’ve been lucky to count half a dozen boats trolling for albacore.

Last summer on a nice ocean in August, you might’ve had a few times where you were forced to change directions to keep from running into another boat.

8 CLICK HERE for the rest of "Tuna Dog" Stephens' blog on Pacific Northwest albacore.

8 CLICK HERE to view the iFish thread on when/where the first tuna of the season will be caught.

X CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast of Del Stephens Q&A on the Pacific Northwest albacore fishery on the June 6 version of Northwest Wild Country.

Crash Test graphic

May 30: Tred Barta promotes Oregon Tuna Classic: "I'm gonna be there!"
NEW May 31, 2009 / 12:10 p.m

Tred Barta NWWC May 30
SEATTLE - Leave it to Capt. Tred Barta to arrange the perfect setup for some of the most inspirational radio we've done in 6 years of Wild Country.

When the first few notes of "Gonna Fly Now" - the theme from the movie "Rocky" - filtered through my headphones at 7 a.m., May 30, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Wild Country producer Curtis Crabtree had just informed me in my talkback: "Tred picked his own intro music. This is what he wanted me to play."

Gonna Fly Now, indeed.

X CLICK HERE to listen to the full podcast.

NWWC TUNA REPORT: Safety key for new tuna fishermen off OR, WA
NEW June 1, 2009 / 11:30 a.m

Blackmouth Report GraphicGARIBALDI, Ore. - The first step in making a successful trip out into the Pacific Ocean for tuna starts long before you even fire up your motors.

“When do you go and when do you not go?”

Andy SchneiderThat’s the question that Del Stephens gets asked a lot.

Stephens, who runs Tuna Dog Offshore, has lots of experience running long distances in the Pacific, and has a lot of hard-earned respect for the ever-changing ocean. Stephens recommends looking at the whole picture when planning a trip, from checking multiple ocean and weather forecasts, crew capabilities, boat capabilities and fuel range of his boat.

8 CLICK HERE to read Andy Schneider's story on safety essentials for tuna.

NWWC TUNA REPORT: Getting geared for early-season albacore
NEW June 1, 2009 / 11:30 a.m

Blackmouth Report GraphicGARIBALDI, Ore. - Is Oregon the “Albacore Capital of the World”? 

Del Stephens with Tuna Dog Offshore seems to think so.

 “Were else can you find the amount of Albacore we have so close to port?” Stephens asks. “It’s not California, it’s Oregon.”

And at no time is that more apparent then early in the season, when full-on albacore onslaughts are common for properly geared boats.

Andy Schneider“The early season fishing is extraordinary,” says Stephens.  “It’s the early season fishing that gets folks addicted to this tuna craze.  Doubles, triples, quads and large numbers of fish; it all happens early in the season.” 

The reason? Simple: albacore are on a heavy feed, and haven’t encountered anything that remotely resembles a cedar plug.

8 CLICK HERE to read Andy Schneider's story on early-season albacore techniques

Oregon Tuna Classic banner
Ilwaco event added to 2009 OTC lineup

NEW April 26, 2009 / 9:30 a.m

Blackmouth Report GraphicILWACO, Wash - It's been awfully easy to say "OTC" when referring to the Oregon Tuna Classic. But, maybe now we'll have to refer to this rapidly-growing tournament series as the "OWTC".

Tournament organizers have added an OTC trail stop in southwest Washington, bringing one of the West Coast's biggest tuna competitions across the Columbia River to the Port of Ilwaco on Aug. 1.

The new Iwaco leg is the second event in the 2009 OTC: the series kicks off in Newport, Ore. on July 18, stops in Ilwaco, and then proceeds to Charleston, Ore. on Aug. 15 and Garibaldo, Ore. on Aug. 29.

8 CLICK HERE for entry information to all OTC events.

SHOW REVIEW: Barta talks Pacific NW tuna on March 14 Wild Country
POSTED March 15, 2009 / 12:40 p.m

Tred Barta March 14 guest

SEATTLE, Wash. - Love him for his honesty or hate him for his brashness, there's no denying that Tred Barta knows a thing or two about tuna fishing. So when Barta proclaims the Pacific Northwest albacore fishery is "one of the most exciting in the world", it's time to sit up and take notice.

The unsinkable host of "The Best & Worst of Tred Barta" brought 30 minutes of high-octane tuna enthusiasm to the Northwest Wild Country airwaves this spring.

X CHECK OUT Part I of our 30-minute interview with Hurricane Barta here. You'll find Part II of II in the WildCast Center.


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