How does a fisherman find albacore in the middle of nowhere? It’s not all by guess and by gory, but the vastness of the South Pacific Ocean makes you appreciate finding any fish at all let alone a boatload. We call it “getting located”. First of all, the band of ocean with the right temperature for albacore is between 35 and 45 degrees South latitude. Secondly, the albacore hunt for bait….krill sauries, squid, etc. and birds prey on bait schools. With long range radars, we scan the horizon for birds feeding. The temperature gauges read off the underwater degrees in the hundredths. A sharp jump can mean an edge where bait schools congregate and albacore lurk. The sea is laced with roadways of current. Bait meander along, feeding on phytoplankton and other microscopic organisms. Often these critters rise to the surface in upwellings caused by underwater pinnacles or currents.
Albacore spend most of their time in the thermo cline layer, down thirty to fifty fathoms on average which is approximately 180 to 300 feet deep. When an albacore sees feed on the surface, it can accelerate quickly to 30 miles an hour and attack. We observe albacore swimming in front and under the boat with sonar and fathometers. The picture illustrates albeit poorly, a school of albacore we call a “worm” between 10 and 20 fathoms. The darkest red and brown areas depict the highest density of fish. When the meter stacks three or more worms on top of each other, we call it a “condo”. If you observe a condo, get ready. They will be climbing on.
One of the most important fish finders is the array of radios with which to flap your jaws with other fisherman cruising around the same area. Many eyes and ears help locate the fish. We all talk on channel on the VHF and other bands designated as the reporting channels on VHF and SSB. Amongst ourselves, small groups of boats team up and work closely hour by hour. Usually there is a fleet wide morning and evening report on the SSB scheduled so that the marketing director in San Diego could communicate with both his directors at sea and dispense general fleet news as to delivery options and price negotiations. At sea, the fleet relays the average catches for the day, weather concerns, and general BS. Sometimes major caterwauling breaks out, sometimes humor, sometimes great sea stories. We often listened to Arnold ZK1DB for his south pacific weather report from Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. We helped Arnold identify a boat foundering on the inimitable Beverage Reef. This is the same nasty reef which sunk my dreamboat, the brigantine Yankee. The weather report from Arnold was very important to the sailboaters cruising across the Polynesia to Figi.
Labels: "worms" on the fathometer