Fly Fishing for Albacore Tuna: Part 1

Have you heard that albacore tuna can be caught on the fly off the Washington/Oregon coast during the summer and early fall months? Have you ever wondered what such a trip would be like? As many of you know, I captain a charter boat that specializes in single day trips for albacore tuna, and over the last few years I have been offering fly fishing trips for these amazing fish. Most people here are aware of this, but many have no idea how such a trip goes down, what to expect, what to bring etc. My goal with this article is to give the reader a basic understanding of how to book such a trip, what to bring, and what to expect during your day. I get asked an awful lot of questions about these trips so I thought maybe a basic rundown of a typical day of fly fishing for albacore would help people have a better understanding.


I am a captain for All Rivers and Saltwater Charters. This is a company that owns 4 six pack boats out of Westport, WA and while we run trips for lingcod, rockfish, halibut and salmon at certain points of the year, our specialty is single day albacore trips. This is not a fly fishing company by any means, but the owners have been very good about embracing my desire to open up albacore as a legitimate fly rod fishery, and happily allow me to run fly fishing trips when requested. Each and every year I run more and more albacore fly fishing trips, with many people from this very forum joining me for these adventures, but for those who have never experienced this trip I wanted to help you understand what makes this so special, what to expect, and maybe help you decide if this is a trip you'd like to partake in.



Capt Nick Clayton.jpg



How to Book

So the easiest way to book a fly fishing trip with me is to get on the ARSC website, allriversguideservice.com and either send them a message through their site, or call them directly. Merry, one half of the husband and wife combo who own the company, handles all of the bookings. I am essentially an independent contractor who is contracted to run one of their four boats. So she books the trips, and I physically run them. I don't set pricing, I don't have access to the schedule to check for availability or anything like that. This is their business, I am just a small part of it. It's also worth pointing out that these fly fishing trips don't benefit me financially. My goal here is not to promote myself and drum up a bunch of business that benefits me. My goal since the start of this thing is to just share this awesome fishery with as many fly anglers as possible because I think it's rad. That's it.

Quite frankly, from a work perspective, it makes no difference if fly trips are booked or not. This albacore fishery is super popular, and by the time the season really gets rolling my boat will end up booked 7 days a week through the entire season, so whether it's fly trips or standard gear trips, I will be working no matter what. Just want to be upfront about that. I highly enjoy the fly trips that I do book, since I am an obsessed saltwater fly fisherman. But the benefit to me is nothing more than fun factor. I just want people to understand that for me this is simply about being able to share what I think is an awesome trip with people, many of whom aren't super familiar with the fishery.


What to bring

Its important to understand what you should bring along with you when you book a day of fly fishing for tuna, so I will try to cover everything as best I can.

When you book a trip with ARSC (All Rivers and Saltwater Charters) you will receive a confirmation email filled with all sorts of information, including what you should bring. Unfortunately this email gets sent out only to anyone who actually books a trip, so if you are the party leader booking a trip for a full boat, the other members of your party won't receive this email unless its forwarded to them by the party leader.

The first thing you should bring is a cooler to bring home any catch. One of the biggest benefits of albacore fishing of any type is that these fish are delicious! You'll most definitely want to keep your catch as cool and fresh as possible until processing. While there is no state set retention limit in Wa state, we as a company are shooting for 6-8 fish per person max when the fishing is at its best. This is a lot of meat, and its important to keep this meat as cold as possible for the best finished product, so bring a cooler capable of holding a fair amount of ice and fish until you can get home and process it.

As for what to bring with you on the boat, I recommend the following: Rain gear and boots. I recommend wearing some sort of raingear, preferably bib style. The rain gear is definitely not for rain. Being on a relatively small boat on the ocean can be very wet. Albacore also tend to bleed a lot. This leads to a scenario where having some sort of protection over your clothes is important. You don't want to be wet, cold, and bloody for an entire day. Wear some decent bibs and rain boots. A rain jacket is semi optional. Most days you won't really want to wear a rain jacket, but when its nasty and wet out it is nice to have upper layer of protection. Out of all the things recommended to bring with you, I think bibs and boots are the most important. Trust me on this.

Other things you should bring are lunch/food items and beverages. As a company we do not provide lunch/beverages so bring anything you wish to eat/drink along with you. We have a seat box cooler and can keep anything you bring on ice. Alcohol is fine, but glass bottles are not encouraged for obvious reasons. While I can't have people stumbling drunk on the water, I most definitely can understand the desire to bring a few beers along. What's better than a cold beer on the water after all?

l always recommend dressing warmer than you think you might need, and in layers. Its always preferred to shed layers as needed rather than wish you had other stuff to put on. While this fishery takes place during the warmer months of the year, it can still get awfully cold on the water. Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it when it comes to warmth.

Polarized sunglasses are recommended but not absolutely required. Its nice to have some eye protection, and more so its nice to be able to see what's happening in the water and polarized glasses help tremendously to this end.


defiance.jpg

Defiance 290 Guadalupe.

Our boats are plenty roomy, but I do like to remind people to not go overboard with what they bring. I recommend showing up in your rain gear, as its easier to put it on before getting on the boat and things can start off quite quickly once we get out there so its best to be ready. Ideally everything else fits in a single backpack/dry bag or something of the sort, which will be stored in the bow out of the elements. Coolers, for the most part, are not allowed onboard unless its a small, lunchbox sized cooler. We simply don't have the room to store larger coolers. I also highly encourage fly anglers, if possible, to bring their rods/reels rigged and ready and ideally stored in reel on, hard rod cases. We have a plethora of rod holders onboard but they are not designed for fly rods so while in transit to the tuna grounds rods will need to ride up in the bow. I have developed a method of storing loose fly rods where they are protected and out of the way, but its definitely preferred to bring rods pre rigged in hard cases not only for ultimate protection, but also because this way the rods are ready to fish quickly. Many days we encounter fish right away when we get offshore, and being able to pull rods out and quickly get lines in the water is a big advantage.
About author
Nick Clayton
Owner/Captain of South Sound Skiffs saltwater fly fishing guide service specializing in fly fishing for sea run cutthroat in Puget Sound from a boat.

Captain for All Rivers and Saltwater Charters running a charter boat on the Pacific Ocean out of Westport, WA targeting lingcod, Halibut, Rockfish, salmon, and albacore Tuna

Lives in Hansville, WA

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