FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When are the seasons?
Tuna usually show up in July and stick around into October.
We start running bottom fishing trips in April and quit in October and it is almost always good, no matter when you go.
Salmon fishing generally begins in June and it looks like the 2021 Coho season will start on 6/28 and the Chinook season will likely start a in mid-June.
Halibut is generally a May fishery with only one or two days a week.
How long are the trips?
Tuna trips last around 8-12 hours. If we “plug” the boat (fill the boxes with tuna) early, they can be shorter.
Salmon and bottom fishing trips are usually 6-8 hours.
What time do we leave the dock?
We usually leave somewhere between 6-9 AM, depending on the tides and daylight. A big ebb tide can keep us from crossing the bar for a few hours. We pick every boat call by what the tide is doing as safety comes first.
How do you fish for salmon?
We generally troll for salmon, but will also have fly fishing and jigging gear available for those who want to try something different.
Do you cancel many trips due to weather?
We cancel around 25% of our tuna trips due to weather. If it is not safe, we don't go. If we cancel due to weather, you will get a full refund.
Salmon and bottom fishing trips cancel around 10% of the time, as the fishing grounds are much closer to shore.
Do I need a fishing license to catch tuna?
Yes. You need an OR or WA saltwater fishing license. You can buy WA online and print it up here: fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/#/login
Where do we get our fish cleaned?
If you want Sportsman's Cannery to process your fish you need to call in advance and make a reservation. You can reach them at (360) 642-3340.
If you don't make a reservation, there is a decent chance they won't be able to process your fish for a few days.
As we usually do not get back to the dock super early, you usually have to wait to pick up your tuna the next day. Salmon, halibut and bottom fish can often be processed the same day.
They do a great job canning tuna and can ship your tuna to you after it is canned.
Unfortunately, there is no public cleaning station in Ilwaco, so you either have to take your fish to the cannery or take them home whole.
On salmon trips we can gut and gill your fish for you, but other than that, we don't clean fish on the boats.
What safety equipment do you have?
We have all of the safety equipment needed for an offshore run. We have an 8 man SOLAS A life raft, an EPIRB, life jackets, AIS and top of the line electronics and communications equipment. We even have XM Radio if you want to catch the big game while fishing.
How do we split up the fish?
For tuna and bottom fishing we split our fish up six ways, so everyone gets an equal share. For halibut and salmon if you catch a big fish, we will mark it and the person who caught it takes it home.
How long is the run out to the tuna grounds?
Anywhere from 1.5-3 hours. Our boats are fast boats with a 27 knot cruise, so you spend more time fishing and less time running.
Will you teach us how to catch tuna?
Yes. A lot of people go fishing with us to learn how to catch tuna on their own boat. We will do our best to show you everything we know about catching tuna. There are no secrets on our boats. We want everyone to learn how to catch tuna.
Do I need to know how to tie any knots?
No, but if you know the Palomar knot, you will be ahead of the pack. When it goes wide open and everyone has fish on, it is all we can do to keep up gaffing, bleeding, and tying on new hooks (a lot of hooks get swallowed or destroyed). If you know the Palomar, you can grab a hook, tie it on, and be back in the action in seconds. We will GLADLY teach you this knot before we leave the dock or you can try and learn it on your own. The Palomar is a very easy knot and it only takes a few tries before you master it. For a 15 minute time investment you can learn a great knot.
Do you jig for tuna?
Yes. If you are interested in jigging, we have a number of rods set up for working iron. We have both conventional Accurates and Accurate SR-12 spinning reels, the Rolex of spinning reels. We will do our best to teach you how to fish iron, as it can be a productive way to catch tuna.
How far offshore will we go?
It depends. Sometimes tuna are as close as 20 miles offshore, other days we run as far as 80 miles offshore.
Salmon trips are generally a few miles offshore and a short run.
Bottom fish and halibut trips are usually an hour or so run.
Will we catch anything other than albacore tuna?
Probably not, but you never know. We have caught a 99 lb Opah (image above), yellowtail, some big Mako sharks, and bluefin tuna. People have caught marlin and swordfish in the area near where we fish. In 2019 we started seeing marlin and big bluefin tuna, so they are definitely out there.
Can I bring my own tackle?
Yes. It is your trip and your boat for the day. If you have that special rod and reel that you really, really love, bring it along and we will rig it up for you and see how it does.
How many fish does the boat hold?
It all depends on the size of the fish. Our goal is 30 tuna a day, but when the fish are smaller, we can hold more.
Will my cell phone work offshore?
Maybe. Verizon works out to about 20 miles for voice and 35 or so for texting- we also have an Iridium GO for satellite texting.
Should I take seasickness medicine?
Yes. Unless you are 100% sure you do not get seasick, ask your doctor to prescribe you something or take an over the counter seasickness medication. Take it at least an hour BEFORE you get on the boat. If you wait until you are seasick, it is too late.
Scopolamine patches seem to work the best, but you need to take it at least 4 hours before you get on the boat.
Is there anything I can do to avoid seasickness?
Yes. Do not drink alcohol the night before. Hangovers and boats do not mix. You will have a miserable time and probably get seasick if you drink too much the night before.
What do I need to bring?
1. A WA or OR fishing license and a salmon tag for salmon trips.
2. comfortable clothes. Many folks like to wear rain gear and rubber boots. Tuna fishing can be messy and bloody. There is a saying that “tuna clothes are forever”, meaning that you will likely never wear them anywhere but tuna fishing again.
3. Your lunch and beverages.
4. Bring some big coolers, but leave them in your vehicle- no hard sided coolers are allowed on the boat.
What shouldn't I bring on the boat?
NO GLASS BOTTLES. NO COOLERS (except small, soft sided coolers). Too much stuff. You are only on the boat for 10-12 hours. There is no need to bring a bunch of stuff. We try to keep the boats free of clutter, as it gets in the way of fishing. You don't need to bring anything that won't fit in a small soft sided bag or backpack. DO NOT wear dark soled shoes, as they will mar the deck.
Can we drink on the boat?
Yes. Keep it in moderation. If you think getting drunk is part of fishing, we are not the charter for you. Tuna fishing is a fast paced sport with lots of sharp hooks and gaffs flying around, so you need to be on top of your game.
Does it cost more for live bait?
No. The price of bait is covered in price of the charter. We buy a lot of bait. We usually carry around two scoops per person- more than any other charter boat. The more bait you have, the more fish you catch.
Do you ever run fly fishing tuna trips?
In order to catch albacore on a fly, you have to get them going on bait first. Once we get the fish going on bait you are more than welcome to fly fish. We have a tuna rigged fly rod on board or you can bring yours. It is not easy to catch albacore tuna on a fly, but we have had pretty good luck doing it when the conditions are right. We have a top of the line fly rig (12 wt Sage and Nautilus Silver King) available for you to use if you don't want to bring your own gear. We also have a selection of proven flies for you to use.
What do I do with all of the tuna?
On a good day you could end up with 5-6 20 lb tuna per person. The boat is "plugged" (full boxes) with around 30 fish. Make sure that you bring plenty of coolers, but leave them in your car or truck until we are done.
If you would like your fish processed, you need to call Sportsman's Cannery before the trip at 360-642-3340 and make a reservation. They are located on the dock and do a great job. You will need to call them a day or two in advance and let them know how many fish you want to bring in. They get real busy and can only handle so many fish, so call early.
Do we get to choose which boat we fish on?
Yes. When you book your trip you can choose between the Honey Badger and Shake N Bake via our online booking.
Can I get out of the elements?
Yes. Both boats have seating out of the elements so you don't get wet while we are running.
What can we do to catch more tuna?
Will you teach me how to catch tuna on my own boat?
Yes. If your goal is to learn how to catch tuna on your own, we will do our best to show you how to find and catch tuna. We will show you how to read a SST chart (Sea Surface Temperature), chlorophyl chart, and general tips for finding tuna. We want everyone to leave the boat a better fisherman.
I am a first timer, can I get extra help?
Yes. Hundreds of people have caught their first tuna on Shake N Bake. We consider teaching the art of tuna fishing to be part of our job. Reading and familiarizing yourself with Livebait 101 will go a long way to making sure you have a productive day.
Tuna fishing terms:
"WFO" = Wide Fucking Open fishing where every bait gets bit.
"Fresh One" = What you yell when you hook up on live bait, meaning you have a fresh fish.
Transom = The stern of the boat and the best place to put your bait in the water.
"Plugged" = Full fish boxes and no more room for fish.