With the start of the many sportsmen's shows throughout the Northwest, the quest for new and return clients is spurring charter boat operators to put their best foot forward.

To varying degrees, charter operations out of Ilwaco have a wide choice of locations to peddle their wares. Monroe, Seattle, Puyallup and Spokane are some of the larger shows in Washington, while shows in Portland and Redmond round out the Northwest circuit.

Having worked many of these shows, I can say with authority that they are heavily attended by potential clients shopping for rods, reels, lures and just about anything else having to do without outdoor recreation. Serious-minded charter boat fishermen use this gathering of charter houses to book "show specials" and, more importantly, fishing dates.

Picking the right date to go sturgeon fishing plays a big part in being successful, especially if you meet with your favorite charter boat operator and pick a date based on his local knowledge and minus tides in the areas that you wish to fish.

If you are an albacore fisherman you might want to check for slack or near slack tides at 3 a.m. or whenever your vessel is scheduled to cross the Columbia bar during darkness.

These are all questions that you should ask before booking a trip for a good fishing experience. Believe me, attendees at these shows are "cherry picking" the best tides and the weekends. This is going to be a short sturgeon season, with the opening on May 10 and a closure date of June 24.

When talking salmon, this season we will be restricted to fishing Sunday through Thursday and the ocean will be closed Friday and Saturday. Most companies will try to book tuna and bottom fishing on the days closed to salmon.

My biased favorite is Sea Sport Fishing Charters, which will be operating the Big Dipper, of which I'm the skipper. (Toll-free 1-866-211-6611, personal cell 360 244-0570, home 665-3573.)

If you are looking for a six-pack boat fishing experience, two of the best are the vessel Net Prophet run by Paul Knowles, 642-2150, and the Sea Quest skippered by Tim Harrel of Sea Breeze Charters 1-800-204-9125 or 642-2300.

All the charter boats in the Port of Ilwaco do a great job and are skippered by captains with Merchant Marine licenses and are insured and inspected.

A complete list of Ilwaco charters, vessels, and captains is also being published.

Wolf-killing rule contestedAssociated Press reports that environmental groups have sued to block a federal rule that would allow state wildlife agents to kill more endangered gray wolves in the Northern Rockies. Federal officials want to empower state wildlife agencies to kill off packs of wolves in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, if they are having a major impact on big game herds, particularly elk.

The Nail-Polish CaperThe violation of the toes, better known as the Nail-Polish Caper to "federal agents," which took place in Sunset Sands on Jan. 12, is drawing to a close. Through the use of DNA samples, forensic science and good old-fashioned detective work, another culprit has been exposed. While not wanting to reveal her full name before sentencing, we can say that her husband's name is John, their last name is Bentley and she is of Latino heritage. One last suspect is at large.

Ron Malast is captain of the charter boat Big Dipper operating out of Sea Sport Fishing Charters in Ilwaco, 665-2573.

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