Every year the fleet anxiously awaits the arrival of the Albacore tuna. Late winter and into the Spring fishermen (Captains and Deck Hands) will be working on their boats doing maintenance and repairs to get ready for the roughly four-month season coming up. As they watch the warm water get closer, on the sea surface temperature maps, they will take turns going out for a few days at a time scouting for fish.
Make sure to check out The Fleet Gallery to see the dock in action.
Once somebody catches a few of the early arrivals, the fleet gets excited ready to work long hours and long days for the next four months. They stock up their boats with fuel and groceries, say their goodbyes to families and friends and head west. These fishermen love what they do; they are connected to the ocean. They work hard long days as preparations start well before first light as they check refrigeration and make sure the previous days’ catch are frozen and looking good. The jigs go out at first light – most boats trolling 10 to 12 at a time.
They eat breakfast and wait. Sometimes the bite comes early and sometimes later on – no one seems to know exactly why Albacore feed when they do (lot’s of speculation of course). Once the bite comes, it may last an hour or may last most of the day, it may bring a handful of fish or it may bring a couple hundred. Once the fish start coming there is a lot of work in gently handling the fish and getting them cooled down and into refrigeration to freeze.
The quality of fish can be directly tied to the time it takes to cool the Albacore (as they are a warmblood fish coming out of the ocean at 60 to 70 degrees) and get them frozen. Frozen at Sea (FAS) Albacore represents some of the finest fish the ocean has to offer. And Oregon Seafoods has great relationships with boats that take great care of their fish. The fishermen will usually stay out until their fish holds are full, for some that may be 12 tons and for some that may be up to 30 tons depending on the size of their boat and the size of the fish hold. When fishing is good, they may fill up in 9 or 10 days to up to 3 weeks or so. Once full, they head for the dock.