Fish & Feathers: Salmon, albacore and beyond!

<I>RON MALAST photo</I><BR>Anxious fishermen load charter boats for salmon opener.

The charter boats that fish albacore are gearing up and the first trips will take place on Saturday, July 23. There is a nice patch of 60.8 to 62.6 degree water sitting off our coast, west of the Columbia River; this water temperature is prime for albacore.

This highly popular sport and food fish is perhaps the most sought after member of the tuna family. The albacore's shape, combined with a powerful, crescent-shaped tail make the albacore one of the fastest fish in the ocean, they have been recorded going over 55 knots. Their speed and strength help them put up a tremendous battle when hooked. Albacore are the only tuna allowed by the Food and Drug Administration to be marketed as "white meat." Because of this distinction, albacore is the most prized tuna meat in the United States.

Three boats fishing albacore out of Pacific Salmon Charters (Stardust, Katie Marie and Big Dipper) have live bait tanks and two boats out of SeaBreeze Charters 642-2300 (Salty Dog and Anckey Street) use the following method. The technique is locate the school by fast trolling plugs and feathered jigs and then switch to live bait. Medium salmon rods and 30 to 40 pound line are standard albacore tackle.

The boats leave the harbor between 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. in the morning.

If you will be booking an albacore trip, remember to bring bib- type rain pants and rubber boots. For those out of town fishermen, it will be necessary to leave your fish at the cannery freezer overnight before they will butcher them.

Sturgeon Season ExtendedThe ongoing Columbia River sturgeon fishery downstream of Wauna power lines has been extended. The estuary was reopened July 15 through Monday, Aug. 15.

The major sturgeon derby is over and the overall winner of 60.20 pounds was caught on the charter boat Coho King, Captain Butch Smith, with the prize-winning angler being Bruce Hemmlmar. An additional sturgeon derby was started with one-third of the collected proceeds going to the winner.

Oregon bottom fish limit changes

Effective immediately, the limit for Oregon bottom fish has been changed from 10 to 5 fish. Oregon believes that the popularity of the sport is eating up the quota much too quickly. So in order to extend the season, they have cut the limit.

Salmon FishingOcean fishing for salmon has been slowed this past week by high winds limiting most recreational boaters, but larger boats, that have been able to make it out have scored. The fish are in a bit deeper water than usual (300 plus feet) but fish checkers and the Derby Booth say that the coho are averaging about 8 pounds and the Chinook 18 pounds, cleaned. Do not forget to purchase your Derby ticket before you leave the dock.

NASCAR TriviaThe gasoline used in NASCAR race cars is 112 octane.

Ron Malast is owner/operator of the charter boat Big Dipper running through Pacific Salmon Charters in Ilwaco, 642-3466.

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