Recreational tuna haul disappoints

Oregon's albacore tuna fishery that had been the fastest-growing quest among ocean anglers suffered its first setback in seven years this summer, when the recreational tuna fishery sagged.

This past season saw the lowest total catch since 2006 and the lowest catch rate per trip since 2005.

The total catch was just 21,416 tuna, about one-third of last year's catch of 63,167 tuna, says Brandon Ford, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Marine Program in Newport.

The 2.33-fish per angler, per day was also less than last year's rate of 3.94 fish per trip, Ford says.

The poor showing was due to several factors, including windy and rough seas that kept tuna anglers at bay and abundant food fish in the ocean that helped turn albacore interests away from lures, Ford says.

Also, ocean currents kept the warm water used by tuna farther out to sea, Ford says. Where anglers last year had to motor 20 to 30 miles offshore to find albacore, many tuna trippers had to venture as far as 50 miles offshore to find albacore, Ford says. That's farther than many pleasure boats can travel while still having enough gas to return to port.

But the commercial fleet that is used to running farther offshore did not suffer the same fate of the recreational fleet, according to ODFW statistics.

Commercial fishermen landed more than 8.3 million pounds of tuna this summer, down slightly from last year but higher than 2011, ODFW statistics show.

Another odd aspect of this summer's tuna fishery were the strange showings of dorado off the Oregon Coast, Ford says.

ODFW creel checkers at ports this summer confirmed the catch of five dorado, also known as mahi mahi, Ford says. Oregon's recreational tuna fleet usually stumbles onto one dorado every three to five years, Ford says.

Cabezon season extended

Ocean anglers likely will be able to fish for cabezon for the remainder of the year after a summer fishing season that saw anglers not reach this year's quota on these slow-growing bottomfish.

The recreational season on cabezon was set to close Sept. 30. But the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife extended the season because part of the quota remained unfilled as of last week.

Anglers will be able to keep one cabezon at least 16 inches long per day until the end of the year or the remainder of the quota is filled.

Cabezon are part of the seven-fish marine aggregate limit for species such as black and blue rockfish.

Also, bottomfish anglers now are allowed to fish at any depth they desire after Monday's scheduled lifting of the 30-fathom restriction.

Razor clamming opens

Razor clamming opened throughout the Oregon Coast on Tuesday after the annual closure on razor clam digging along Clatsop County beaches expired.

However, the taking of mussels remains closed from Yachats River mouth in Lincoln County to the California border because of elevated levels of paralytic shellfish toxins. The closure covers mussels on all beaches, rocks, jetties and bay entrances.

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