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Old 08-22-2011, 08:27 PM   #1
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Deception Pass, WA and Astoria, OR Fishing

OK, so I'm working in the area around NAS Whidbey Island today checking their precision radar approaches.* I needed to fly 16 approaches to their runways so I have a little time to look around at all the great scenery, including Deception Pass.* I fly over the pass about every 8 minutes and see this trawler setting up what looks like a fishing net across the west end of the pass on the ebb tide.* It looks like it's restricting 2/3 of the pass by the time he gets it stretched out and makes me wonder a few things...

1. Is it legal to restrict passage of other boats by stretching out a net like this?

2. Is it a common or effective way to catch fish in that location?

3. WTH was he fishing for, salmon?

Earlier in the day, I was flying near Astoria, OR and was amazed at the number of angler boats out near the mouth of the Columbia River (south of the airport and still within the river)* They were all south of the marked channel and working in a concentrated area.* The cargo ship in the picture was anchored out of the channel.)* Most, if not all, were trolling slowly, so I assumed they were salmon fishing.* Any idea if this is correct?

*

Apologies for the poor quality shots.* They were taken with my cellphone while reaching across the cockpit.


-- Edited by FlyWright on Monday 22nd of August 2011 08:31:46 PM
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:50 PM   #2
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RE: Deception Pass, WA and Astoria, OR Fishing

Quote:
FlyWright wrote:
*

1. Is it legal to restrict passage of other boats by stretching out a net like this?

2. Is it a common or effective way to catch fish in that location?

3. WTH was he fishing for, salmon?

*
1. Yes

2. Yes

3. Yes
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Old 08-22-2011, 09:25 PM   #3
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Deception Pass, WA and Astoria, OR Fishing

First of all, the boat you saw was not a trawler.* So far as I know, trawling is a fishing method that is not used in the PNW.* You need to go to places like*the Gulf of Mexico or the North Sea and maybe the Bering Sea and open Pacific*if you want to see trawlers.* In our coastal waters you get five basic kinds of fishing boats--- trollers (a totally different animal than a trawler), gillnetters, purse seiners, long-liners, and crabbers.* Many of the commercial fishboats are combination boats that can be set up to do several things depending on the season.* Gillnet boats and purse seiners are often set up for crabbing, for example.

The net you saw at Deception Pass was a gill net and it is an extremely effective way to catch salmon. It and purse seining are the two most common and productive ways of fishing in the PNW. As Carey said, this kind of net fishing is totally legal. In fact, if there is a "right of way" to be had in this instance, it belongs to the fisherman, not the boaters going past. While we have not seen this for a number of years, it used to be that the tribal salmon fishermen in Bellingham Bay would set so many gillnets in sections of the bay*it was like negotiating a slalom course to get through them in a boat.

The net hangs like a curtain from the float line on top of the water. The fishing boat, mostly bow pickers in this region, under-run the net periodically to remove the salmon that get caught in the mesh. It's called a gill net because the fish swim into it and their gills prevent them from backing out of it. The net is carried on a large drum on the boat and in the case of a bow picker is paid out by backing the boat up. Large floats at each end provide a visual indication of the net's location and length. The fishing boat generally hangs out near one end of the net between under-runs and if the net is set in the vicinity of other boat traffic usually runs to warn approaching boats of the net's location if it appears they might get too close.

The nets are usually placed with one end near the shore as illustrated in your photo.* This is because salmon don't want to expend energy fighting strong currents, so they tend to follow the contours of the shoreline and keep to water where the current is weakest.* A lot of salmon pass through Deception Pass on their way to two different rivers that have their mouths not far from the Pass: the Skagit and the Stillaguamish.

The end of the summer, beginning of fall marks the return of several salmon runs. Kings, silvers, sockeye, and pinks are all coming back or starting to right now. There was a huge amount of commercial fish boat activity around the fuel dock yesterday in Squalicum Marina in Bellingham and driving home along Chuckanut Drive overlooking Padilla Bay we saw numerous commercial boats getting into position for what I assume is an opening coming up.

We got our Arima back from the Yamaha shop a few days before I left for London and Oslo the other week and we're hoping to get in a day of king fishing this coming weekend as the summer recreational king fishing season ends August 31 in the waters we fish in. However we will be trolling for kings using downriggers and lures. Not nearly as effective or productive as net fishing, but it's better than not fishing at all :-)


-- Edited by Marin on Monday 22nd of August 2011 09:40:06 PM
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Old 08-22-2011, 10:07 PM   #4
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RE: Deception Pass, WA and Astoria, OR Fishing

Frequently there's not much to add after Marin posts but I observe that the gill net set extremely close to Deception Pass is not in the way of passing boats. The boat traffic passes very close to the island in the center foreground. And legal or not the guy would be mad to set his net in front of the passing boats as many boaters don't know the difference between seagulls and little white floats holding up an expensive net. It would cost him big time.

I see there still is that float in Bowman Bay where we've tied several times. I've run through the pass, spent the night at the Bowman Bay float and struck out for Lopez Is in the morning several times.
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Old 08-23-2011, 01:57 PM   #5
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RE: Deception Pass, WA and Astoria, OR Fishing

Eric,

We spent the night at that float on Bowman Bay a week ago.* It's a nice spot and it filled up for the night.

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Old 08-23-2011, 06:01 PM   #6
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RE: Deception Pass, WA and Astoria, OR Fishing

Thanks for the responses, guys. It's not legal for us to use gill nets in California, so I wasn't familiar with the 'netiquette'.

As we overflew the area, I was eyeing Bowman Bay as a nice possible anchorage. But then, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of nice anchorages throughout the area.

When I get home this weekend, I hope to wet a line in pursuit of salmon on the CA Delta. We haven't had a full fishing season for a couple years and the fall run fish are starting to show up now. No trolling for me, though. I'll have to drop the hook and set back some kwikfish and blades. Not as productive as trolling, but nearly so. I'll enjoy just being on the water again!!
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Old 08-23-2011, 06:18 PM   #7
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RE: Deception Pass, WA and Astoria, OR Fishing

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FlyWright wrote:
It's not legal for us to use gill nets in California, so I wasn't familiar with the 'netiquette'.
It's not legal for recreational fishermen to use gillnets here, but it's a totally legal fishing method for the commercial guys and the native tribes (which I guess fall in the catagory of commercial.)
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Old 08-24-2011, 07:05 AM   #8
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RE: Deception Pass, WA and Astoria, OR Fishing

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Marin wrote:...*and the native tribes (which I guess fall in the catagory of commercial.)
*When I was a liveaboard on the Lake Union ship canal in Ballard it was an annual event to watch the pandemonium that followed the Indian's setting their gill nets across the channel at night. They staggered the nets across the canal from the locks almost to the Ballard bridge and in the spirit of good community relations they lighted the ends of the net with glow sticks.

I suspect they made more money from damage claims against the boaters who got fouled in the invisible barriers each night than they ever made from fishing. The shouting and swearing and zooming around of net tender's boats was amazing to watch.
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:56 PM   #9
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RE: Deception Pass, WA and Astoria, OR Fishing

Quote:
Marin wrote:
It's not legal for recreational fishermen to use gillnets here, but it's a totally legal fishing method for the commercial guys and the native tribes (which I guess fall in the catagory of commercial.)
*Actually tribal fishing in Washington*falls into "in common with" as defined by the Bolt decision.* Basically they get half and the non-tribal commercial and sport fishers get the other half.
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