Albacore Fishing Tagged Albacore Travels 14,582 Miles In 380 Days! Have you ever wondered where albacore migrate to (and from)? What about the depth they swim and feed at? How fast do they grow? Well, here is some information that I think youll find interesting. On August 21, 2007 I caught a tagged albacore on a nameless cattle boat about 100 miles out of San Diego. An alert fellow fisherman pointed it out to me shortly after the fish was gaffed said it was worth some bucks so Id better keep an eye on it. I ask the deckies to save the fish whole so I could turn it in. The spaghetti tag offered a $500 reward and gave me an 800 number to call in order to turn in the fish and collect the reward. I called it in and they sent a person up to Orange County from their La Jolla headquarters the next day to pick up the fish. I had a check in my hand about 10 days later. They turned out to be the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) working in cooperation with The American Fishermens Research Foundation since 2001 on a project to study the migratory patterns, and temperature, and depth preferences of juvenile North Pacific albacore. They are hoping to learn more about the structure of the albacore stock in the Northeast Pacific, information which is critical to developing accurate population estimates. Then over the next several months they sent me more information on the program and some websites to preview some of the things that they are doing. Some very interesting stuff. There were two types of tags on the fish. The first was a spaghetti tag that was behind the dorsal fin. It had call 1-800- xxxx for a $500 Reward for turning the fish in to NOAA. Spagettii Tag The second tag they used is called an archival tag and is a little larger than an AA battery with a 2 antenna coming out of the top. The tag records depth, water temperature, visceral temperature and light level every 60 seconds. Archival Tag In The Fish Close-up of the tag. Main body of tag is 3" long and 1.6oz. The tag has to be removed from the fish in order to retrieve the data, hence the $500 reward. (Its now $1000). The tag is inserted into the albacore just about at the anal opening and then sewn shut. The antenna trails outside of the body of the fish. There is a video clip on how they do it at AMERICAN FISHERMEN'S RESEARCH FOUNDATION Archivial Tag That Was Used Here is the retrieved information about the fish that I caught. It was tagged on August 6, 2006 off of the mouth of the Columbia River. It wandered around for a bit and then headed west towards Hawaii. It then headed south, did a loop-de-loop, and then headed about Â¾s of the way down the Baja Peninsula. It then came back up to the San Diego area where I caught him. His (he was a male) voyage took 380 days and covered 14,582 miles (38.37 miles per day). His fork length increased by 5.5 (from 29.5 inches to 35 inches) and he put on 12.6 pounds (from 19#s to 31.7#s) Map Of Where The Tagged Fish Traveled Only 3 tags were recovered in 2007, mine and 2 others. All 3 were tagged off the mouth of the Columbia River during 2006. Fish #063 was captured by a sport boat out of San Diego. He took about the same route as my fish did, but traveled a little further west. Fish #64 was the one I caught. The third fish, #65, did totally opposite of the other two fish. He hung around off the coast of Washington for a while then he just hauled-ass for Japan where he was caught by a Thailand commercial trawler. As of the end of 2007, only 23 tags were recovered out of the nearly 500 that were deployed over a four year period. For some reason I always had thought that there were two separate schools of albacore. One that went north and covered Northern California, Oregon and Washington and a second school that traveled south towards Southern California and Mexico. The map of their tracks shows a totally different story. Now for the depth and temperature charts. They are not available at this time. The data is still being analyzed. Apparently the head honcho of the albacore tagging project is in the process of writing a paper on the subject but is some time away from completing it. Take a look at the websites below and it will give some idea of what the depth and temperature charts look like. Here is what little information I was able to find out about. In general the fish have been found to stay at surface temperatures between 59 and 64 degrees F and do their dives during the day and stay near the surface at night. In general, their internal temperature is higher than the water temperature and spikes when he is feeding. At this time it is not known if there are trends between their behavior at the coast and their behavior offshore. That information will come out with the paper that is being written. Here are two websites that will give you a lot more detailed information on tagging fish that youll find interesting. Albacore Archival Tagging - SWFSC AMERICAN FISHERMEN'S RESEARCH FOUNDATION This would make an interesting article for one of the fishing magazines, so if you have any contacts you might forward this information on to them. The reward for these tags has just been increased to $1000, so keep your eyes open.