Albacore Tuna (Thunnus alalunga) are the nomads of the Pacific Ocean .  They travel the Pacific spawning in the Northern Pacific during the summer.  The seasonal weather patterns over the Northern Pacific and the presence or absence of El Nino or La Nina determine the migration patterns of albacore tuna.  Schools of migrating tuna appear closer to the Oregon Coast during periods of El Nino and further offshore during La Nina.  The seasonal emergence of the California Current determines how close tuna migrate to the Oregon Coast

  Commercial Fishing for albacore tuna off of the Oregon Coast did not begin until 1936 when 40, 000 pounds were landed.  The number of albacore tuna caught continued to increase until 1944 when 22 ½ million pounds were landed.  Ten years later the landing had fallen to less than ½ million pounds.  Since 1954 the number of albacore landed in Oregon had increased but have not approached the number of albacore landed prior to 1944.  Albacore tuna begin arriving about July and remain through September.  The width of the California Current is the limiting factor that determines how close albacore tuna migrate to the Oregon Coast .  In some years they come as close as 10 miles to shore but typically not any closer than 30 to 70 miles offshore.  Albacore that are 30 to 40 miles from shore are at the limit for a day trip.  The spirit of the adventurer is embodied in tuna anglers who venture beyond the limit.  At this point in their migration an albacore tuna may weigh as much as 40 pounds but normally weigh between 13 to 20 pounds each.  Albacore tuna that weigh less than 12 pounds are referred to as peanuts.

  Not only does the moon control the various phases of the tide but it also influences the feeding cycle of albacore tuna.  The dynamics of the Diel Vertical Migration are in force in response to the lunar cycle as the marine organisms ascend to the surface to feed during the dark phase of the moon.  Albacore tuna find forage fish more easily during the dark phase of the moon than during the light of a full moon.  Schools of forage fish are easily located by the luminescence they create as the school swims through the water.  The marine organisms associated with the Diel Vertical Migration do not ascend to the surface during the light of a full moon.  The light from a full moon diminishes luminescence making it more difficult for albacore tuna to locate schools of forage fish.  Albacore tuna feed aggressively during the early morning hours and in the late afternoon driving schools of forage fish to the surface.  During the full moon albacore feed later into the day.  At midday albacore cruise the depths in search of schools of forage fish.

  Albacore are found in water where the temperature ranges from 58 to 65 degrees with the ideal temperature ranging from 60.5 to 65 degrees.  They are also found along the break line where the water changes color from blue green to blue.  Seabirds diving on forage fish often betray the presence of albacore. Seabirds often rest on the water after feeding heavily on forage fish driven toward the surface by schools Albacore tuna.  Feeding seagulls indicate that tuna are feeding just under the surface of the water while diving birds indicate that tuna are feeding in deeper water. 

  Albacore tuna can often be seen feeding on forage fish in the early morning hours when the surface of the ocean is calm.  Troll for albacore tuna between 5 and 8 knots using lures that imitate a crippled forage fish such as tuna jigs (darker colored jigs in low light conditions and lighter colored jigs in bright sunlight), chrome lures or Rapala type lures of any color that resemble anchovies, sardines or herring.  Trolling with hand lines is the most productive method used to catch albacore tuna.  It is the most common method used by commercial fishermen.  Commercial fishermen troll tuna jigs at the surface during the morning and afternoon bite and deeper during midday .  To fish for deep feeding albacore tuna, commercial fishermen add 2 to 8 pound round ball sinkers to the hand lines.  Commercial fishermen use 200 pound test strength line sold in marine supply stores as tuna cord.  The hand lines are attached to cleats on the back of the boat with rubber snubbers using tuna cord.  Tuna jigs are trolled at various lengths behind the boat usually from 30 to 60 feet.  Troll the shortest line to the longest from the middle of the transom from the inside out.  The shortest lines are trolled on the inside to prevent the lines from tangling while turning the boat.  To land albacore hooked on hand lines pull the albacore onboard without gaffing them.  Use the speed of the albacore to your advantage by skipping them across the surface of the water and flipping them onboard.  Trolling with hand lines is nonstop action as the boat rarely stops.  

  Trolling with terminal tackle is another popular method used to locate schools of albacore tuna.   Use trolling rods equipped with roller guides and a large capacity reel loaded with 50 pound Dacron line to bring the albacore to gaff.  Tie a barrel swivel between the main line and the leader.  For a leader use a 6 foot length of 100 pound test fluorocarbon leader line tied to a tuna jig.  Fish for schooled albacore using a medium sized jigging rod with a fast tip equipped with a high speed level wind reel with a drag system that can be depended on to slow down a speeding silver bullet and filled with 30 pound test monofilament line.  Start fishing as soon as 58 degree water is encountered.  Albacore tuna that are hooked on rod and reel must be brought to gaff.  The hooked albacore is generally accompanied to the boat by the rest of the school.  Loose the hooked albacore and there is a good chance the school will also be lost.  As the hooked albacore approaches the boat have the other members of the fishing party cast lures to the schooling albacore.  To hold the school to the boat, hook another albacore before gaffing the first albacore or bring the hooked albacore near the boat without landing it.  This is where the fun begins, standby for a line smoking run that fulfills your wildest expectations about albacore fishing.  The thrill of an albacore burning line can drive a sane person mad.  Some albacore sound after the initial line blistering run.  Keep the rod tip up at all times using the power of the rod to tire the albacore.  Pull the rod up and reel down when the fish is not taking line.  Pump the albacore to the boat.  When bringing the albacore to gaff, put the reel in free spool and hold the fish by applying pressure to the spool with your thumb just in case the fish makes one last surging run for freedom.  Once the albacore is on deck, brain spike and bleed it immediately by cutting through the gillrakers and put it on ice.  Brain spiking means just that.  Stick a sharp pointed object into the center of the soft flesh above the eyes.  Brain spiking paralyzes the albacore preventing the albacore from damaging its flesh by thrashing about.  Troll for deep schooling albacore tuna using downriggers to present the tuna jigs to the albacore.  The presence of albacore near the boat provides the fly fishermen with the opportunity of fishing for one of the fastest fish in the sea.

  Fly fish for albacore using a 9 to 11 weight fly rod with a compatible saltwater reel filled with 150 yards of 20 pound test braided Dacron backing and a weight forward 10–weight intermediate sinking line or floating line with a sink tip.  Albacore cannot resist imitations of anchovies, herring or needlefish patterned flies tied with large eyes to size a 1 to 3 hook fished beneath the surface.  Whatever your motivation – when the spirit of adventure calls – fishing for albacore fills the bill.

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