Longlining is one of the oldest styles of fishing. Longline gear has a groundline that is anchored to the bottom. Off this ground line baited hooks are suspended from gangions (a short line). Spaced along this groundline are both weights and floats, suspending the baited hook just above the ocean floor. By fishing this way, the baits are elevated above the predation range of small invertebrates such as sand fleas and sun stars. It also minimizes contact with the ocean floor and is less destructive to the habitat structure. The line is left to soak for several hours and then retrieved. Fish are landed one at a time and cared for one at a time. Full retention is our goal. We are always looking for ways to minimize by-catch. Image courtesy of SeaSwap Alaska.
We troll for two different pelagic species: Albacore Tuna and Chinook Salmon. In trolling for Albacore tuna, jigs (fishing lures) are fixed to the boat and trolled at approximately 6 knots, nearly skipping them on the surface where the tuna feed. Fish are retrieved by hand on these lines and are then promptly stunned, bled, and slush iced to bring the core temperature down to 35 degrees within 2 hours of landing. Once they are cold, fish are iced in layers in the hold of the boat. Due to our small boats and our small capacity, Port Orford tuna trips are short; consisting of 72 hours at most.
Salmon trolling is a bit different from tuna. Salmon swim at different depths, so we use wire lines suspended from Hydraulic gurdies (winches). At the bottom of this line is a large lead cannonball to position the lures, suspended from leaders, at various depths. This spreads the gear throughout the water column. Salmon are brought to the surface, played by hand, netted, stunned, bled, cleaned, and iced promptly. Port Orford fishermen also participate in the Collaborative Research on Oregon Ocean Salmon (CROOS) project which studies spatial and temporal distribution of salmon stocks to be able to harvest abundant stocks and avoid weak stocks.
Jigging is done for nearshore rockfish, lingcod, and cabezon. It is rod and reel: one line, one hook, and one fisherman. Rockfish species have a swim bladder, and suffer from barotrauma when they are pulled up from depth. To promote survival of fish released through our local conservation effort to release large pregnant females, fishermen use a 16 gauge hypodermic needle to release pressure on the swim bladder, considerably improving the survival rate of these fish.