LIFE ALONG THE
Tuna Fishing adventures off west coast Vancouver Island
by Bradley Wolvergreen Thomas
So we did it, twice. Maru, baby! I have been helping Captain Dave McRae, and Deck Boss Tony Tone on the Kuroshio this summer. Even better we started out of Victoria and traveled up the west coast of the Island to Ucluelet. We loaded up two large fish totes with ice and went 40 miles offshore to fish Albacore tuna then delivered it fresh for sale at Steveston public fish market, and off the dock in Victoria, twice. And on the second trip, fish sales paid for fuel. I think that pretty much constitutes the definition of the coolest thing I have ever done in my life. It was an achievement well worthy of a foot note in some future book on B.C. Coastal history. Even better nobody actually thought we could pull it off, and we did.
Cleaning tuna on the dock in Victoria in front of 30 tourist was awesome. I had learned how to clean one by watching videos on You Tube the night before. At the dock in Steveston we sold to a lot of Chinese Canadians, so I get to use my university degree in Chinese.
In Victoria someone asked why they had never seen a whole fresh tuna before, and I explained that no one before us had a boat fast enough or balls big enough to do it. The Kuroshio is half the size of the average tuna boat, 35 feet long and goes three times as fast, 25 knots. Our previous experience commercial fishing has been what is called Sea food Harvesting and consists of fishing right next to the rocks in areas of swells and strong tides, all winter long on B.C.ís north coast and the Haida Gwaii. Scuba divers are on the bottom in 20 to 30 feet of water raking up sea urchins and filling bags that are hoisted and loaded onto the deck of the boat. Which are all unloaded live onto packers or trucks waiting at the dock, everyday. Other commercial fishermen donít consider us in their league. About 80 per cent of the fleet was tied up at the dock for bad weather, so we went out anyways.
I have never been that far offshore before. The water is saltier, and stings your eyes. I saw my first sun fish, albatross, fin whale, shark and a third subspecies of Orca called offshore killer whales. They are smaller than transients and residents, and have rounded worn down teeth from chewing on shark skin. I called them Hobbit killer whales. Their dorsal fins are narrower. I initially thought they were sharks.
Catching our first tuna was a little anticlimactic. But the second one was awesome. I canít express how much fun it is listening to a tuna bang around on the aluminum deck. Or having a tuna try to swim to the bottom of the cooling slush, and see the tail waving in the air until it works its way down to where strawberry smoothies are spraying all over you and the deck.
In a day and a half we were averaging 30 fish, sold in Victoria for $60 each and in Steveston $100. The only complaints from the public were that they were too big, and could we find a smaller one. A complete trip is six days, including travel, fishing, sales and cleaning the boat, by the end of it my cheeks hurt from smiling. Eating a fresh barbequed fillet of Kuroshio tuna, Kuroshio coho salmon, Kingpinís prawns, Momís homemade bread, and our Lantzville garden home grown organic vegetables has to be the best meal of my life.
Our second fish is on film and posted it on Wolvergreen You Tube. Photos of the trips are also posted on the Bradley Wolvergreen Thomas Facebook page.
See you at the beach, it is there all year long.