Friday, August 17, 2007

Too Rough to Land Bluefin

TAG's George Shillinger sent this update from New Zealand...

Well, it's sunny today -- a miracle in very grey Greymouth!
Up until today, we've had tons of rain. Unfortunately, in spite of the recent clear weather, the ocean has been extremely rough. It's been way too rough to enable us to fish. The Greymouth docks are lined with charter boats filled with frustrated skippers and their crew members -- everyone is rather glum about the weather and the slow fishing so far.

Our partner vessel, the Cerveza, went out with one full charter -- it was too crowded for us to join -- and returned empty-handed. Around eight vessels braved the difficult conditions during a one-day weather window. Only one boat landed a fish, which was taken by sea back to Westport, 70 miles north. The fish was an impressive giant Pacific bluefin, about 660 pounds (300 kilograms). A few other giant bluefin were lost at the wire -- sad stories all round. The photo above shows what a tuna looks like when it's on the was taken last year.

Almost all of the boats were out for less than 24 hours, and many of the charter passengers became very seasick during the journey. Although the weather in town is breezy and chilly, offshore in the trench the winds are raging at 20+ knots now, and predicted to rise to 40+ knots by tomorrow morning, accompanied by a large swell from the southwest. The outlook for Saturday is a front that will sweep through from the northwest and be followed by southwesterly winds of 25 knots. The good news is that another high pressure area is coming. It's due to arrive sometime during the weekend. This may very well be our first (and potentially last) real weather window -- we are really hoping!

We've collected 2 DNA samples -- one from a Pacific bluefin and one from a southern bluefin) and have given sample vials to several of the local sport and commercial captains to get samples for us. We also have been collecting images and anecdotes from the local fisherman about bluefin. Now we just need some good weather and good fishing!

I will try to send a few photos of Greymouth and the infamous "Greymouth Bar." The bar was absolutely stunningly ferocious earlier this week....people often watch from land to see if any boats capsize. I tried to capture it all on video.

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