Fish & Feathers: Sturgeon have arrived!

<I>RON MALAST photo</I><BR>Deck boss Wade Costner (L) and fisherman Gary Vandeilwert hold up a 54-pound sturgeon that won the pot for the day.

Just a little bit late, but surely welcomed, the sturgeon have finally arrived in the lower Columbia River. Plentiful catches of this ever more popular fish are being taken by recreational and charter boats alike, with local anglers crowding into Baker Bay and the bigger boats working the lower ends of Desdemona Flats. The fish are nearly white in color, indicating their recent arrival from the ocean. An angler on the charter boat Sara Kay of Pacific Salmon Charters, landed a 58-inch 44.5-pound fish to take the early lead in the Ilwaco Charter Association Sturgeon Derby. Tickets for this annual event are available for $3 and may be purchased at any of the charter offices or from derby representatives roaming the early morning docks. For those of you recreational fishers, remember that you may only use one barbless hook and the size limit is 45-60 inches, limit one fish per day and five per season and yes, the fish cops have been out in-force.

Halibut season (Ilwaco) remains open until the remainder of the quota is reached (only about 19 percent have been filled); rough offshore water has kept the effort to a minimum, but that is changing quickly.

Halibut season in Marine Areas 3 (La Push) an Area 4 (Neah Bay) will be open to halibut fishing off the north coast of Washington from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Thursday, June 16 and again on Saturday, June 18.

Bank anglers on the Washington side of the river near the Astoria Bridge have been turning out in force and occasionally scoring.

Nautical Phrases & TriviaChewing the Fat - "God made the vittles, but the devil made the cook," was a popular saying used by seafaring men in the last century when salted beef was staple diet aboard ship. This tough cured beef, suitable for long voyages when nothing else was as cheap, or would keep as well, required prolonged chewing to make it edible. Men often chewed one chunk for hours, just as if it were chewing gum and referred to this practice as "chewing the fat."

Ron Malast is owner/operator of the charter boat Big Dipper, charting through Pacific Salmon Charters out of Ilwaco 360 642-3466.

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