Fish & Feathers: Salmon Sensationalism!

A shark swallows a marine mammal. Considering how many endangered salmon are consumed by seals and sea lions, perhaps we should be encouraging more hungry sharks!

Anything to sell a newspaper? Well, I suppose that has been going on for centuries. Editors of most newspapers seem to have a knack for splashing the front page with "sensational" headlines to boost readership. They are aware that most readers read the headlines, scan a few following lines and think they know the whole story.

It is certainly evident in the case of salmon this year. Calls from California, Idaho, Salt Lake City and all over the Northwest attest to the fact that few readers pay attention to what they read. Newspapers all over the nation talk about salmon closures on the West Coast but few readers go deep enough into the article to get to the real "meat" of the story. Callers ask, "Is there going to be a salmon season in Ilwaco?" Even some of my best local friends ask the same question and it is evident that their reading ability is only skin deep.

The salmon problem this year originates in Northern California on the Klamath River, which has been mismanaged for the past decade. The "fish managers" have miscalculated water release schedules and ignored the seal and sea lion populations encamped at the river's mouth. Of course the fish managers blame over fishing as one of the major causes for the shortage of fish, while bypassing the sea lion menace. I called a friend of mine this past week who is a guide in the ocean off the California Coast, and he said that there are hundreds of these predatory animals living at the mouth of the Klamath that have severely impacted the fish runs for years.

The closures or cutbacks for the Northern California extending north to Cape Blanco in Oregon will certainly devastate the coastal communities, recreational and commercial fishermen. But fortunately they have little bearing on the Columbia area fishery.

The sturgeon season which opens, for all practical purposes, May 12 should be a good one, allowing for all the snow pack in the mountains. It should provide enough fresh water runoff to keep the crabs close to the mouth of the river; thus allowing sturgeon fishermen to fish a larger portion of the river than last year.

The salmon season scheduled to open July 4, in the ocean should carry a quota, allowing fishing into the Labor Day weekend.

The cold water barrier moving towards the Northwest this summer should contrast nicely with the traditional warm water to create a contrast line for tuna. This will provide an excellent season. If you have not fished albacore with live bait, you are missing the boat.

The forecast for halibut season, which opens May 1, appears to be very optimistic, with an expanded quota issued of about 30 percent by the International Halibut Commission. In the Ilwaco area, halibut fishing will be allowed seven days a week.

So get your fishing gear in order, tune up your engines, pick out your favorite rock or call your local charter office and let's get ready for an outstanding season of fishing out of Ilwaco.

Nautical TermsLog, Log Book - A record of all activities of the boat and conditions. In the early days of sailing ships, the ship's records were written on shingles cut from logs. These shingles were hinged and opened like a book. The record was called a "log book." Later on, when paper was readily available and bound into books, the record maintained its name.

Longitude - North and south circles pointing true north, measuring distance east and west 180 degrees from the prime meridian at Greenwich, England. The International Date Line is longitudinal.

Coast Guard Facts - It costs approximately $1,200 per hour for the USCG to operate a 47-foot motor lifeboat, while a helicopter or cutter can cost between $9,000 and $12,000 per hour.

Ron Malast is the owner and captain of the Ilwaco charter boat Big Dipper, 665-3573.

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