Friday, August 20, 2010

Fishing update: Water like blueberry Kool-Aid

Apparently Mom has night watch. She sent this at 1:41 am today.

Howdy ...

We're just now going over 'The Cobb' ... Cobb Seamount. 44 48 x 130 52 Very interesting! This seamount rises to only 18 fathoms (108 ft) below the surface of the sea & is surrounded by depths to 1413 fathoms.

A friend and I were fantasizing that with enough engineering and effort, we could create our own island by attaching cables to the 18 fathom spot and hooking that cable to something that floats! ? or maybe tons of rock on top of the spot?

Well, we're heading offshore. Not our first choice, but if you want to catch fish you must go where they are .. and they're NOT on the beach (close to shore) this year. We have about 5 more days of day & night running to get out there & we hope the fish are still there by then!

Water is still cold here but is the right kind of water. Very clear and clean and a light shade of blue that reminds me of a blueberry sno-cone or Kool-Aid.

There are a lot of us going. As one guy said, 'everyone who CAN go IS going ... 'I'm not sure if this will influence Harv's idea of a smaller boat. I don't know if it'd have the range to do this.

Anyway! We saw the sun come up today. The first time this season! Weather is getting better out here as we pull away from the coastal winds. We're still quartering into the NW swells, though.

I heard part of a story ... a skipper on a charter boat (known as 'pukers' as they haul tourists out to fish and the tourists DO 'puke')...

Anyway, this skipper, when going past the Coast Guard station, gave the Coasties a rude one-finger salute ... and promptly fell overboard. I don't know who pulled him out. ... the cops and Coasties were waiting for him when his boat got to the dock. Must have been drunk, you think?

Pepper is thrilled to be fishing again. When fish are pulled aboard he prances around the back deck like he's the Top Dog at the Westminster (sp?) dog show.

Well, that's about it. We brought two kitchen trash bags full of books. Those and the sat radio are keeping us relatively sane.

- Judy

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Update from my folks at sea...

From an email Mom sent a couple of days ago. (So you know - Harv is my dad, the Captain. Pepper is my folk's black standard poodle.)

Hope all is going well onshore. I guess inland it's been really hot. We sure hope it cools down, as that heat creates winds out here.

This is day 8 on this trip. So far this summer the weather has been really rotten. Small Craft Advisory always, except on those occasions it's gotten stronger and was blowing Gale force. Big swells, big wind chop.

When weather's like that I think it's like riding down a gravel road in the back of a dump truck. Bouncy & noisy.

Harv was saying today we've not seen sunrise or sunset for two months ... overcast always ... no sun or patches of blue sky. Day just goes from black of night to grey of day and then back to black. Some foggy, foggy days. TODAY, though, it's only blowing 15 or so and we saw a bit of the sky and had a couple of hours of sun!

Before we left the dock both Pepper and Harv wound up in the water. A boat was pumping out its fish hold and created a layer of foamy bubbles on the water and Pepper mistook those bubbles for something solid, I guess. He just stepped right onto them and of course wound up going down thru them.

Harv was getting off the boat and his foot caught on a cleat, twisted his leg and he wound up falling backwards between the dock and the boat. He hit his head HARD on the boat but luckily wasn't knocked out, so he surfaced and a guy on another boat ran over and he and I pulled H. out. Pretty scary. If he'd been knocked out I'm not sure what would have happened.

Fishing's been slow since the beginning of this trip but better the past couple of days. We've been getting some 12 lb fish which are the size we want to take home.

The past couple of days there have been sharks around the boat in the mornings ...a group of 10 footers one day and somewhat smaller ones the next. Harv thinks they were blue sharks. We haven't seen any of those huge Humboldt squid.

A couple of days ago we heard there are big scores about a thousand miles offshore. We pointed our bow that way a couple of times then turned it back. It'd take us a week of day and night running to get there ... with only two of us on the boat, that's pretty exhausting.

If we had a crystal ball & knew the fish would stay there we'd probably go. Since we don't, unfortunately, we're not going, I guess. Some friends took off that direction and we wish them luck ... and wish us luck here also. We're only a hundred or so miles from the coast.

Re: big scores. Since there are only two of us on the boat, and some boats have 4 or more people, I figure a 4-person boat has to catch twice as much as us to be even with us. right? As a friend said to us, "You guys do great for an old man and a midget." I guess he was intending that to be a compliment. :-]

Got a call yesterday and Dad said they'd be in to Ilwaco in a couple of days.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A letter to

Another article about mercury in albacore that ignores the differences between troll-caught and long-lined fish. So here's my response:

Articles concerning mercury in fish often overlook the difference between troll-caught and long-lined fish. And it's an important difference to those of us making a living catching tuna. Many articles tend to oversimplify (leading to uninformative conclusions) or list the tuna types in a thick not-so-enlightening paragraph. Both of these approaches do little to help consumers make an informed decision on what kind of albacore to buy – while at the same time pass on incorrect information that hurts family fishing businesses like ours.

Challenges like off-shore corporations, cheap foreign labor, unsustainable fishing regulations outside US waters … they’re hitting our industry hard. But our jobs are made even harder when articles and news reports continue to muddy the waters concerning albacore and mercury. Troll-caught albacore and long-lined albacore do not have the same levels of mercury. Troll-caught albacore is lower mercury.

Writers and reporters can easily differentiate between types of albacore by asking two simple questions.

What species of tuna are you talking about?

Albacore tuna is actually one of several species of what we familiarly lump together as ‘tuna’. Often writers lump all tuna species together and cry, “mercury - stay away!” But this is like warning consumers from the entire nightshade family because belladonna is poisonous, forgetting that the tomatoes we love to eat or the petunias we put into pretty flower baskets are part of the same family.

Once you’ve determined the fish you’re talking about is albacore tuna, it’s time to learn a little more.

How is the albacore tuna caught?

If it is caught by long-line, it will most likely not say so on the can. These albacore are caught on long long lines full of hooks that are left to sit deeper down in the ocean. Long-lining results in by-catch and fish with higher mercury levels. Some cans may say ‘line caught’, but unless it also states that it is U.S. in origin they most likely mean long-line.

Troll-caught albacore: these albacore are caught one-at-a-time by hook-and-line by people like my parents, who are at sea right now standing on the back deck of their boat waiting for the fish-online bell to ring. Their lures skitter near the surface of the ocean, attracting young albacore who have not had time to accumulate as much mercury in their bodies. Bycatch is almost nonexistent. The Marine Sustainability Council has rated our fishery sustainable.

How can you know if the albacore tuna is troll-caught?

1. Look for the MSC logo on the cans (ours will have them son)

2. Look for the words ‘troll-caught’ or ‘caught one-at-a-time by hook-and-line’

3. Look for albacore caught by US fishermen

4. Look for a higher fat content in the fish

5. Look for albacore canned in micro (or custom) canneries

For more information:

On troll-fishing

On mercury, selenium and a mercury/albacore study done specifically on troll-caught albacore (FDA studies do not factor in catch-methods)