With new fish, come great new stories of life at sea from our fishing families, and Pilar Martinelli kindly shared a recap of the recent month long trip off the coast of Vancouver Island that her husband Bruce took with his deckhands Mitch and Gary. Here are some great tales in Pilar’s own words:
While in the past, BR (Before Rex), I was known to join the crew of the Tantrum for the offshore hunt for albacore, nowadays it’s a better bet to stay home and entertain an active 5-year-old on land versus endless days at sea. Thankfully we now have Starlink to stay connected and even see each other’s faces at times, which is an amazing gift for this family on these long trips. It’s a huge upgrade from the spotty satellite phone connection that habitually dropped calls, which we dealt with over the years.
This season Bruce left a couple weeks behind “schedule” because of the US/Canada treaty that went unsigned. This kept each fleet limited to staying in their own waters and outside the 200-mile line. Bruce’s strong work ethic drives him to be one of the first of the fleet out in search for tuna. “Fish wait for nobody” is one of his favourite sayings. Generally, fisherman fish in groups so that they can cover more ground looking for the elusive albacore. To me it seems incredibly daunting to go looking in the vast open ocean when you are the only boat. Call Bruce determined (or crazy) but there he is… first out of the gate, heading west in his quest to feed our needs for seared albacore loins and sushi. Thank you, Bruce!
(Photo courtesy of Bruce Martinelli: Deckhand Mitch with tuna)
The 2023 albacore season started off slow in early July, with fewer boats fishing and harder-to-catch-fish. Not to say that it is ever easy to find schools of biting albacore in the big open ocean, but some years are easier than others. Call it the cycle of nature: some good years and some bad years. However, neither the lack of fishing boats nor the elusive fish would deter our captain. He ran over 3500 nautical miles, as far as 500 miles offshore (Hawaii here we come!), at six very-slow-knots-an-hour for thirty days, all in the name of sushi.
(Photo courtesy of Bruce Martinelli: Deckhand Gary bringing in tuna)
It was slow going at times. Much of the time in fact. The crew managed to wear out a deck of cards playing endless games of crib in all the hours they went without a single fish. Bruce kept himself “entertained” looking for feed, birds, “jumpers” and whales… any sign of life that would attract albacore. On this particular trip, they saw many, many whales. Some pods of fin whales even joined the Tantrum in play, bow riding for over an hour; an extraordinary sight for even a seasoned fisherman of 37 years.
(Photo courtesy of Bruce Martinelli: Rows of frozen tuna within the boat hold)
In the end, Bruce and crew got it done, as they always do. A good load of hard-earned albacore was caught and we will once again feast on seared albacore and sashimi. We, the Martinelli Family, are incredibly grateful to Skipper Otto and its albacore-eating members for providing a steady and reliable market for our fish. It can be a maddening world with fish buyers and volatile markets, but with Skipper Otto we can count on fairness and accountability and for that we feel extremely blessed and thankful. Thank you for making it all possible, Skipper Otto – connecting us with the wonderful members that support this small, fishing family.
Written by: Pilar Martinelli
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