By Ken Chamberlain
This summer I went on two pelagic trips that launched from Tillamook County. The trips were made August 19 and September 12 with Garibaldi Fishing Charters. On each I was the sole birding guest along with 5-6 fishermen seeking albacore tuna.
The trips are entirely unguided -- you are solely responsible for finding and identifying the birds. I can recommend them only for folks who have made several prior guided pelagic trips. Being the sole observer I'm certain that I missed some birds. That said, I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to find and identify the birds by myself. I also wanted to see these birds in Tillamook County where there currently are no guided pelagic birding trips offered.
My first trip was made on the 53-foot vessel "Norwester" with Captain Mick Buell. Mick was very friendly and interested in having birders aboard. The Norwester is a very stable vessel from which to bird.
The trip left the dock at 5 am and motored approximately 2 hours out through the dark and foggy dawn to about 33 miles off Barview Jetty. Birding was mostly done while the boat motored along trolling for tuna at about 7 knots. When tuna were hooked the boat was stopped to fight the fish. At these "bait stops" both live and dead bait fish were thrown overboard as chum for the tuna. The chum attracted birds as well as tuna.
Mick was willing to alter course to investigate birds working bait. This often payed off with a tuna bite or two.
Birds seen included:
Orca (Killer Whales)
We returned to Garibaldi at about 5 pm, making it about a 12-hour trip.
My second trip was made in the 46 foot vessel "D&D", captained by Lance Fletcher. The D&D was a bit less stable for birding.
We left the dock at 5am then motored through the dark and dawn until about 8:30 am when we were about 54 miles west of Barview Jetty.
Again we both trolled and had bait stops. We ranged from 40 to 54 miles out all day, returning at 6 pm for a 13 hour day.
I was able to add:
Fin or Sei Whale, I could not identify which.
Pelagic trips with Garibaldi Fishing Charters were $175. They can be reached at (503) 322-0007. Albacore tuna season usually runs in August and September.
Additional Photos Below (Also see Ken's gallery)
all photos by Ken Chamberlain