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Boating over “the bar?” Harrowing account of a Columbia River tragedy

FISHING — "Even as a retired cop, Lonn Sweeney didn't expect to save anyone's life June 20 when he piloted his 24-foot Duckworth ocean hardtop, Teresa D, over the Columbia River bar, but he was certainly prepared for it," writes Oregon outdoor scribe Bill Monroe in a story of tragedy and lessons learned.

  • The story is a must-read for anyone planning to pilot a a fishing boat over the infamous rough water caused by the surge of the Columbia River meeting the tides of the Pacific Ocean.

"And at least some of the five survivors from a capsizing on the world's trademark-for-treachery ocean crossing owe their lives to his caution – a lesson learned on the cusp of a predicted stellar coastwide ocean salmon season and record run past Buoy 10," Monroe reported.

Lt. Scott McGrew, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard station at Cape Disappointment, said the accident is under investigation. He credited Sweeney and his crew with saving lives before his 47-footers could get to the scene.

Washington sets 2014 salmon fishing seasons

FISHING — State and tribal co-managers have agreed on a package of salmon fisheries that meets conservation goals for wild salmon populations and provides fishing opportunities on healthy stocks, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department just announced.

Washington’s 2014 salmon fishing seasons were finalized Wednesday during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s  meeting in Vancouver. The regulations cover salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, Washington’s ocean and coastal areas and the Columbia River.

Recreational salmon fisheries will vary by area.

Read on for details from the WDFW:

Westport anglers allowed 2 chinook starting Sunday

SALMON FISHING — Starting Sunday, Aug. 4, anglers fishing in ocean waters off Westport can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

With that change, anglers will be allowed to keep two chinook per day in ocean waters off Westport (Marine Area 2), LaPush (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4). Those fishing Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will continue to be limited to one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

All ocean areas are open to salmon fishing seven days a week. Wild coho must be released in all four areas.

Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the department previously limited anglers off Westport to one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit to ensure that the fisheries would remain open for the entire season.

"Fishing for chinook out of Westport has been really good recently, and we’re keeping a close watch on the pace of the catch.  It appears now that enough of the quota for the Westport area remains to allow anglers two chinook per day," Pattillo said.

Ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 30 in marine areas 1 and 2, and through Sept. 22 in marine areas 3 and 4.

Pattillo said fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season and will announce any other changes on WDFW’s website.

Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum size limits and area catch guidelines, is available in the WDFW Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.

Ocean chinook quotas likely lower than 2012

FISHING — Anglers fishing along the Washington coast will likely see a lower catch quota for chinook salmon this year, while the quota for coho is expected to be similar to last season, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Monday night.

Three options for ocean salmon fisheries approved today by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) anticipate a lower abundance of lower Columbia River hatchery chinook in the ocean, but an increase in Columbia River hatchery coho. The PFMC establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.

Read on for details about the three options for  2013 salmon fisheries package the council will consider in April.

Angler reels in 117-pound halibut to lead Wesport derby

OCEAN FISHING — There was no contest for last week’s Westport "Catch of the Week."  

Daryle Baker of Port Angeles landed a 117-pound halibut in the near-shore area off Westport on May 30, easily assuming the lead for the $1,000 biggest Halibut of the year prize from the Westport Charterboat Association.

The near-shore area continues to be open seven days a week until the poundage quota is met.

The early chinook season begins Saturday, June 9, for hatchery chinook only. The All Species Salmon season



Westport crab-fest is a feast of fun

Feeling crabby?  Head to the Washington Coast.

The 25th Annual Westport Crab Races and Crab Feed is set for April 21-22.

Tap a leggy crab of good breeding and put it on the race course against other competitiors.

Or soak a crab pot for a chance at winning cash prizes. Thanks to the Washington Dungeness Crab Fishermen’s Association, the Westport Marina has been seeded with ocean-sized Dungeness for the Saturday and Sunday Crab Derby, with a top prize of $1,000.

Some people come just to feast on crab, which is served a variety of ways.

I notice the promoters still offer the option of hot dogs for kids.

Get all the info here.

Or call the Westport/Grayland Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Center toll free, (800) 345-6223.

Angler enjoys close call in quest for “grander” marlin

OCEAN FISHING — A three-decade quest to reel in a marlin weighing more than 1,000 pounds ended spectacularly for businessman Bob Rich Jr. this fall in the Black Marlin Classic catch-and-release tournament off Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

If you've never experienced the power of these massive but speedy fish, watch this video of Rich reeling in the acrobatic monster. See deck hands cut it off ALMOST before it inflicted damage to the boat.

Read on for a more detailed account of Rich and his fishing experience.

Trawlers waste 104 tons of Alaska halibut — in one week

OCEAN FISHING — Last week I reported that Alaska is considering yet another cutback on the halibut limits for sportfishermen.

Here's part of the reason: one commercial cod fishing trawler alone had to dump 43 percent of its recent catch because it was halibut during a closed season.  That's just one boat in one week.

Read on for the Blog report by Anchorage outdoor writer Craig Medred.

U.S. starting to curb appetite for overfishing

OCEAN FISHERIES — Forty stocks of fish populations are subject to overfishing in U.S. waters, but progress is being made to rebuild stocks and reduce overfishing, federal officials say.

The number of fish populations being fished at too high of a level at the end of 2010 was up by two from 2009, according to an annual report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Among the stocks being overfished are cod in the Northeast, red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific bluefin tuna off the West coast.

But officials said many key populations of fish have shown improvement over the years. Twenty-one stocks have been rebuilt to healthy levels since 2000, and three key stocks in the Northeast — Georges Bank haddock, Atlantic pollock and spiny dogfish — reached healthy levels in 2010, said Eric Schwab, the head of NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

“We are turning a corner as we see important fish stocks rebounding,” Schwab said in a statement.

Salmon fishing excellent as ocean seasons open

SALMON FISHING — Washington's coastal hatchery chinook salmon season kicked into high gear last week with good fishing reports coming in from Puget Sound to Ilwaco.

Read on for the update by Mark Yuasa of the Seattle Times.

Washington opens halibut fishing one day, June 30

OCEAN FISHING — Washington anglers will get another day of halibut fishing, as the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has announced a June 30 fishery in marine areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay).  

Washington halibut anglers get one more day: June 16

OCEAN FISHING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has announced it will reopen the recreational halibut fishery in Marine Areas 3 and 4 (Neah Bay and La Push) to recreational halibut fishing for one day on June 16.