Unveiled and christened, here’s Tailgunner:

Here’s a bunch of shots, without all the blah blah blah.

Clippercraft sport fisher pilot house

As wonderful as it was to have the boat complete, it was still only partly “finished” in that it needed a good saturation of tuna blood to bring it to her final state. The skies cleared, the wind died, and in August, a crew was put together to get out on the grounds to see how she could do fishing. The crew consisted of Don, whom I took my first albie trip with, and Matt, a WTC team-mate.

Her first trip would be to Westport, following the tournament and solid fish reports. 38 miles offshore, we drop our first rod in the drink when the water looks right, and scarcely get the second lure in the water when the reel begins to scream. We set down right on top of them!

westport tuna 2010

At the end of the day, the body count is 22 albacore, 2 tired crew, and one very happy builder.

To confirm the results, a second trip was planned in early September to see if it was just a fluke, or if this boat really is tuned and ready for medium range offshore fishing. We decide to run out of Ilwaco this time, testing different grounds and following above average reports.

I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. We then have a rather harrowing experience crossing the Columbia River bar in swells and occasional breaking waves from 6 to 8 feet and some larger. She performs flawlessly in huge waves, toughing out conditions most smaller boats would have foundered or at least shipped water in. We were safe and comfortable, getting back to port once the bar mellowed out a bit.

She’s a consistent performer, getting fuel economies at and above 5 NMPG, bringing in loads of fish well over 400lbs, and pleasing all who ride in her. There will be changes such as the addition of trim tabs, handrails, some paint repair on the bottom paint, pump system reconfiguration, and other wear and tear items, but that’s to be expected in any boat used at these levels.

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