Fish & Feathers: Read the 'rips' to improve your fishing

Different water colors show a "rip" that formed off the mouth of the Columbia River this past Sunday. It was particularly nasty, being filled with kelp, pieces of wood and a lot of grass. It moved north at about 1.5 knots and was to be avoided by fishing boats of all sizes.

For those of you fishing the Columbia River or the Pacific Ocean for salmon, learning to fish "rips" can greatly enhance your productivity.

Plankton gathers along temperature boundaries, setting up a food chain that draws bait to the area. Plankton tends to concentrate on the cool side of the rip. The higher nutrient content there provides plankton with a food source. When you identify a rip while trolling, cross the rip, watch the water temperature on your depth finder and you will see the difference in temperature.

Temperature boundaries can act as a "wall" when the temperature on one size falls within a game fish's comfort range and that on the other side does not. Game fish will tend to move along these edges when they encounter them instead of crossing them. Watch for birds feeling in the rip, it's a dead giveaway for success.

Sturgeon fishery won't reopen hereThe sturgeon fishery in the lower Columbia below the power lines will not reopen in 2006. WDFW determined that there were only 400 fish left in the quota and that will be added to next year's quota. Catch and release fishing for sturgeon is still allowed.

Halibut season reopens in Ilwaco Aug. 4Recreational halibut fishing will reopen in Ilwaco at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 4, until the quota is projected to be attained. The fishery will be open three days per week, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

There is sufficient quota to reopen the Columbia River (Ilwaco) recreational halibut fishery for the first weekend in August. Beginning this year, the Pacific Fishery Management Council's Catch Sharing Plan for halibut was revised to split the halibut quota into two portions - 70 percent for the fishery opening on May 1 and 30 percent for an additional fishing opportunity beginning the first Friday in August, Aug. 4.

However, there may not be enough quota to remain open during the second weekend in August. Following the Aug. 4 to 6 opener, fishery managers will produce a catch estimate and determine whether there is sufficient quota to continue the fishery during the second weekend in August. The department will update its Web site and recreational fishing hotline with the new season information as soon as it is available.

It is unlawful to retain or possess any bottomfish in Area 1, except sablefish or Pacific cod, with a halibut onboard.

Eating fish outweighs risksThe latest study released by the American Heart Association says, "If you are still balancing the risks and benefits of eating fish, stop. There is no contest."

Fish, especially fatty fish, is good for you. For most people, the experts say, the benefits outweigh any drawbacks related to concerns about toxic materials in fish.

In the latest studies of fish related health benefits, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, researchers found that eating fish rich in omega-3 reduced risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of age related blindness. The research confirms similar earlier findings. Seafoods with the highest omega-3 ratings are salmon, oysters, halibut and fresh tuna.

Fish Facts• This year's mainstream Columbia River adult summer Chinook salmon sport catch, 4,800 is the largest since 1968.

• Number of shad kept from the mainstream Lower Columbia River set a new sport fish record of 170,000 fish. The old record was 165,000 fish in 2005.

• Last month's total of hatchery steelhead kept from Lower Columbia River mainstream (2,300) fish was high for that month since 3,000 fish in June of 1973.

Nautical Trivia & PhrasesRank and File - The generic man in ranks. Comes from the terms for a military formation, where a rank is a row (crosswise) and a file is a column (lengthwise) within the formation.

Piping - Boatswains have been in charge of the deck force since the days of sail. Setting sails, heaving lines and hoisting anchors require a coordinated team effort and boatswains used whistle signals to order the coordinated actions. When visitors were hoisted aboard or over the side, the pipe was used to order "Hoist Away" or "Avast heaving." In time, piping became a naval honor on shore as well as at sea.

Ron Malast is owner/operator of the charter boat Big Dipper, operating out of Ilwaco 665-3573,

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