Tag Archives: tuna

Honolulu Fish Auction

The Sikuliaq is tied up at pier 35, just across the wharf from the Honolulu Fish Auction.  The Auction runs 6 days per week and as much as 100,000 pounds of fish can move through each day.  Beginning at 0100 boats arrive and offload the catch that they are delivering for the days auction.  At 0530 the auctioneer rings the brass bell to open the live auction and within a few moments fish are being sold.

Buyers from many different brokers, hotel restaurants,sushi bars, markets, etc. arrive and start inspecting the quality of the fish around 0430 and the live auction  starts around 0530.  As soon as the fish is purchased, a tag is placed on the fish to identify the buyer, the price per pound and a check is cut that day and sent to the fisherman.
All types of fish such as yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, mahi mahi, swordfish, wahoo, opah, and several bottomfish species such as paka paka , onaga are available to bid on.

Tours are available, or you can just come in and watch the action like I did.  If you go, remember to wear closed toed shoes.  Everyone is required to walk through a one half inch deep both of disinfectant as they enter.  It’s also climate controlled inside so bring a light jacket.

The fish are offloaded from the boats using big trailers they tow around with forklifts and brought over to the building.  They are weighed, sorted and tagged.  Once they have been purchased, the fish move out the far side of the building and are loaded into the buyer’s trucks.  Very efficient!

Above a tag shows the price paid was 2.40 per pound, the fish weighed 57 pounds and on the far right, almost out of the picture, shows who the buyer was.

Here’s another example:

Walking back to the ship, the skies opened up and we got a little wet.  It has been stormy and not so nice here the last few days, but it is a warm rain.

Our ship is nearly loaded and we will be casting off sometime soon.  Have a good week.

TT

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The Fishing

WAS INSANE!  Each buoy that we recovered looked like a fish tank underneath.  Mostly Mahi Mahi, but also a few Wahoo (ono), Yellowfin Tuna (ahi) and a few very nice Rainbow Runners.

We would approach the buoy, hook into it, recover it on deck through the A-frame and start recovering the mooring line onto our deck winch.  The line recovery usually takes 2.5-3.5 hours and is the time we were able to catch some fish.   We had just snatched thier home, so they all transfered over to the stern of our boat to follow us.

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We’ve never really been given a chance to fish during a live operation before.  Normally we put out handlines when we are steaming between stations or doing surveys.  We are loaded with trolling gear, but had precious few jigs for use with a rod and reel.

The next two photos show and brand new Shimano Butterfly jig after one day of use.  The fish violated everything we had and they eventually broke off all of our jigs.

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A little improvising was in order.  We raided the butter knives and made some new jigs down in the machine shop.  We caught a lot of fish with these! 

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I’ve been getting lots of questions about what we are going to do with all of the fish we caught.   First off, the galley made some fabulous meals with it as it was fresh. However we still have a whole bunch in the freezer.

The rest of it will be used something like this:
1. Put on a fork
2. Put in mouth
3. Chew and swallow
4. Repeat

Nothing goes to waste.

Most of the operational photos I have are on a memory stick and will have to wait until I can sit at a computer.

TT

TAO Buoy Service

We are currently just S. of the equator about 200 miles W. of the Galapagos Islands servicing a string of TAO Buoys ( stands for Ocean, atmosphere something, something).  The normal plan is to recover in the morning and deploy one in the afternoon / evening.   These buoys are LOADED with schools of fish,  mostly Mahis.  We’ve been eating really good!

Pictures and more details when better Internet is available.   Oh, lest I forget. ….it’s hotter than hell down here.  Good thing I stocked up on the Gold Bond.

Wind in your face, you’re in the right place

I pre-wrote the following post in case the internet sucked up here in the Gulf of Alaska. The internet has been barley working. The weather has been rough and we are getting our butts kicked. We are almost to Station Papa and should be setting out two new moorings and retrieving another over the next two days. Will update as soon as possible. Happy New Year!

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(This is the Gorge Power House on the Skagit River in Newhalem, WA where my gradfather was the chief machinist. My grandparents moved here when the highway ended in Newhalem a long long time ago).

My two favorite things to do when I’m off the ship include fishing and riding my new (to me) Harley.

One of the common sayings when fishing with live bait (anchovies) for tuna was “Wind in your face, your in the right place”. By dropping your bait over the rail on the windward side, the boat would drift away from your bait rather than over the top of it if you were on the leeward side. To help rookies remember the proper side, the saying went “wind at your back, no fish in your sack”.

Since selling my boat last summer and shipping out on the Thomas G. Thompson, I haven’t had too many opportunities to get on a good tuna trip. Luckily for me, my former first mate, Marlin Mike, has kept my freezer fully stocked with fresh fish. I am very thankful for that.

The ISO KALA….I sure do miss her!
ISO KALA Overnight Running

Last summer I bought a 1999 Harley Electra Glide from my Uncle and have been having a blast riding it all over the place. One great advantage to the mariner life is that when you are home, you can do things mid-week when everyone else is at work. Riding my bike during the week has allowed me to avoid crowds on weekends. I love to crank up the tunes and get some wind in my face on the open road.

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Totally unrelated:
I nearly forgot to mention that I happened to be at the University Bookstore in Seattle a couple months back and saw Mick Fleetwood of the band Fleetwood Mack:
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South Pacific Fishing Report

Fishing sucks.

The end.

Really that’s how the report should read but there really is more to the story.  One day out of Nouméa we went through an enormous school of yellowfin tuna feeding and birds diving.  The ship steamed right through the middle without even slowing down.  I watched some really nice tuna feeding as we cruised through.  Our one handline never got touched.

A few days later in St. Georges Straight, Solomon Islands, we were on station recovering a science mooring in a downpour.  The tunas were feeding a couple hundred yards off the stern as we worked away.  I think its God’s perfect torture for a fisherman.  Tease him while he can’t put out a line.

A few days later in the Bismark Sea, Papa New Guinea, while sitting on a CTD station a very large blue or black marlin jumped three times not 100 yards off of our port side as if to say “piss off, you can’t catch me”.

  The next day while steaming towards Vitiaz Straight , Papa New Guinea on a beautiful evening, I again put out the handlines while steaming 12 knots.  A nice marlin whacked one of the jigs a few times before we watched him fade away. 

  Twenty minutes later a very nice bull mahi mahi was hooked.  I was able to gain some line while the fish was skiing on the surface.  When the fish was able to get his head down, I couldn’t hold any line even wearing gloves.  The line would rip right out of my hands.  One of the other guys hailed the bridge on the squak box to please slow down.  Our new (new to the ship) chief mate didn’t know what to do and it took a couple minutes for him to start slowing down.  Just as the ship slowed, the mahi came loose and got away.

  The next day, after a long day of recovering two science moorings in blistering humid heat, I decided to take the night off from fishing and enjoy an evening of air conditioning.  One of my shipmates set out a few lines and one got worked by a nice marlin.  The marlin got away with the hook and jig.
 
  We’ve been putting our hooks in the water and getting some action, but this science group planned their whole cruise around hauling ass at flank speed from station to station and our opportunities have been fairly limited unless we want to fish at 12 knots (not really…six would be better).  If we had a week or two down here with a sport boat, I think you could put up some pretty impressive catch numbers on a mixed bag of game fish.

A very special mention goes out the very rare oarfish that made an appearance off of stern one afternoon as we were just about to bring the last item onboard from a science mooring.  As we looked into the water at the deep color of the instrument, it appeared there was a wad of line tangled in it.  As we brought the instrument closer the was slowly unfurled itself and slowly swam away just five or six feet below the surface.  I could see all of the vibrant reds, blues and silver colors and the long fin that runs along the back.  This one was 12′-15′ in length.  They can get up to 40′ in length.  Not much is really known about them and it is very rare to see one alive.  We’re pretty lucky I suppose, even if we have no “meat in the box”.

  Hopefully the next fishing report will have some fish pictures to go with it.  Until then, stay classy.