I was fishing out of Neah Bay on Sat. evening. We arrived at Neah bay mid morning on Sat and we were off the dock at 11AM. The plan was to fish for tuna and salmon spending Sat. night out on the ocean. The swell, weather and wind predictions were perfect for a night on the deep seas. However, having never done that before, I was a bit nervous. Still with a high quality boat, twin engines, plenty of fuel and an abundance of redundant safety gear, I knew we'd be just fine.
We motored out to the south end of the "prairie" (the large 400' deep area just N of the Juan de fuca canyon and about 30 mile off shore) and pissed away several hours fishing for salmon. We caught tons of wild coho, a few hatchery coho and a couple of small kings (released the kings). Around 3-4PM, we quit salmon fishing and motored west another 30 miles or so. It was overcast and we never got to really blue water but the water clarity got better once we were out around the 3000' contour about 1/2 way between Nitnat Canyon and Juan de Fuca Canyon (maybe a little closer to Juan de Fuca). It took awhile but we got our lines in the water around 6:30PM. After that we pointed south.
After about 7:30, the bite came on and it was wide open until dark. We didn't troll for more than about 10-15 mins between 7:30 and 9:00 without a hit. I even had one hit as I was holding a rod in my hand just prior to putting in in the rod holder. We finished up around 9/9:30 PM with a quadruple and landed all 4 (with just 3 guys on board). We only had 4 lines out but they all were hit within 10s of each other. It was "zing - Fish on", "zing - Double", "zing - triple", "zing - quadruple"! All before I could get into the cabin to slow down.
Being "amateurs" at this tuna game (my 3rd trip for tuna), we wound up only able to stow 13 fish on board at which time we decided to call it quits. We had space and ice for maybe two or three more but it was dark and we wanted to eat dinner. We didn't bring out enough ice and coolers to take on more fish. We had 3 coolers plus the fish boxes in the floor but one of the coolers had food and drinks for humans in it and we didn't feel like emptying that out for more fish. I'm confident we could have caught 2-3 times that many if we kept fishing or stayed out far to fish more in the AM. Next time I bring more coolers and more ice.
After dinner, we decided to motor at 6kts back towards Tatoosh. That would get us to "Blue Dot" (a 300' plateau about 30 miles offshore) by about 4AM and we could finish out out salmon limit there. We took shifts at the wheel while the other two guys slept.
The ocean was very calm (2' swells at 16s, 4MPH wind) and being out all night was very special. We turned off the running lights a few times just to look around in complete darkness. The phosphorescence in the wake of the engines was awesome. At times it was so bright, you'd swear we had led lighting under the engine bracket. We saw jellyfish and squid flashing around us. The milk way and night sky were beautiful and one of us saw a super bright meteor while the others were sleeping. We had a great time just being out on the ocean in the dark. On the way in, we passed about 6-10 boats from the commercial fleet of salmon fishers. They were drifting and asleep on the "prairie" waiting for the morning light to get going again.
I took a 10:30PM-2AM shift at the wheel and caught a couple hours of sleep between 2 and 4AM (when we arrived at blue dot). We drifted for and hour or so and started fishing around 5/5:30 when the dim light of a 6:19 sunrise started to appear. We started a troll with two flasher/hootchie combos down deep (200' or so) and one diver/flasher/hootchie or bait rig up higher (50-60' deep). I picked up a nice 17lb king on a green/glow hootchie on a green/glow flasher and we found some nice hatchery coho's and a smaller (8lb) king. We arrived back in port around 11AM with a nice, icy load of 13 albies, 4 coho and 2 kings.
Here's a few images of the adventure:
My buddy Brad working on cleaning up after the night time carnage.
The haul at the dock
A closer shot of the fish on the table
My buddy Nick - this was his first tuna trip so we needed the obligatory "glory shot"