Up the Beach — Time for offshore breezes, fine fishing and a great escape


Ah, summer sun accompanied by cooling offshore breezes — a perfect time to go down to the old Ocean Shores Marina to hang over the railing and gawk at the Quinault gillnetters, pleasure craft, dinkies, dories, and other assorted craft. It does make one envious of those who can enjoy such days on the salt water.

Fine fishing

Fishing hasn’t been good just on the rivers this summer. Ocean fishers are still bringing in Kings and cohos, bottom fish and rock fish. As the summer weather begins its morph into early fall, the tuna are coming in. Makes one remember when Ray Sundquist operated the 50-foot Sundy for tuna out of his office at the golf course’s Misfit Restaurant. This season’s Tuna Classic at Ilwaco recently brought out 45 teams of fishers who brought in 10,640 pounds of Albacore tuna in two days.

Blue Fin problem

Tsunami debris news recently includes information on the finding of radioactive contamination in blue fin tuna. It’s the first time that a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity for such a long distance. This specie can grow up to 10 feet and weigh 1,000 pounds. They spawn in Japan and are abundant in the waters of California, Mexico and the tip of the Baja peninsula. Blue fin in a thin slice of sushi can run as high as $24 American at classy restaurants in Japan.

The National Academy of Science study results have shown that Fukushima Daiichi reactors damaged by the March 2011earthquake and tsunami are the source of the radiation. Tissue samples contained two radioactive substances; cesium 134 and cosium 137, are 10 times higher than in previous catches. Alice Chang of the Associated Press said that, “Even so, that is far below the safe-to-eat limits set by the U.S. and Japanese governments.”

All of which just goes to show — eat local fishers’ catches. How can you beat the taste of ocean fresh tuna without the blue fin problem?

Sturgeon and Stellars

One thing local fishers are not going after is Grays Harbor estuary sturgeon. Both yellow and green sturgeon inhabits the estuary and the Chehalis River. For those who decide to go after these behemoths of fish, make sure you have a catch Record Card along and that you know the difference between yellow and green sturgeon, as the later is off limits. The green has barbs near the mouth and vents between the pelvic fins.

One of the largest sturgeon reported this year was a 12-foot, four-inch, catch and release sturgeon in British Columbia, Canada. It had a girth of 53 inches and weighed 500 kilograms or 1102 lb 4.9810 oz.

This summer, sturgeon fishing in the Columbia River has been a hot topic. The declining Columbia River stocks have been a matter of concern for the last several years. This year saw a quota cutback. If the downward slide continues, a moratorium will be considered.

The members of the old Grays Harbor Fish enhancement group that existed for 22 years would be familiar with the current discussions. The number one consideration for the local folks of the river is protecting spawning areas and re-arranging fishing seasons in those areas, according to Cindy LeFleur, WDFW director of resource and policy in Vancouver.

Stellar sea lions are also a consideration as they really, really like sturgeon. The huge population of Stellars outside the South Jetty may have discovered a good place for their fishing plans. The Stellars account for 97 percent of the depredation of white sturgeon in the Columbia. Local fishers have noticed the increase in the Grays Harbor Stellar population, along with the huge increase in the population of Brown pelicans in the same area.

Seven-gilled shark

The recent landing of a seven-gilled shark in the Ocean Shores Marina, reminds the beachers that his huge shark also loves the Grays Harbor estuary. These monsters have their own beauty. Their near navy-blue back and sides are a contrast to their salmon-colored bellies.

The Willapa Bay flap over charter fishing for seven-gills has certainly brought forth a curiosity of the little known local critter. Russ Vetter, NOAA director of Fishery Resources for the Southwest Science Center, was one person not happy about the newly advertised sports fishery. His biggest concern is that this species has only one or two pups a year and could easily be overfished.

Seabird survey team

The news that training by the COASST (Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team) at Cannon Beach, Ore. has some local chests puffed out. The citizen-in-science program that collects data on marine bird carcasses for scientists was begun in Ocean Shores with volunteers from the Interpretive Center helping to develop a COASST manual and work out the kinks in the University of Washington’s new program.

Gypsy moths

Another sure sign of fall is the appearance of the bright green and orange gypsy moth traps hanging in trees and bushes along side of North Beach roads. These traps are used to detect the invasive gypsy moth that hitched a ride on foreign ships from foreign ports. In the caterpillar form, the moth strips trees and plants of leaves, making them more susceptible to disease.

Gypsy moths attack more than 500 species of trees and plants. But those little buggers are caught in the non-toxic traps that contain a sex pheromone that attracts the male moths. Traps will be checked every two weeks until they are taken down in October. If found, the area will be aggressively treated with summer trapping and spring eradication efforts.

More tsunami debris coming

Dan Ayers, the local coastal shellfish lead biologist, reminds folks that it isn’t long until clam digging season.

And, a reminder that coastal beaches are experiencing an increase in marine debris, likely resulting from the March 2011 tsunami that devastated Japan and claimed nearly 16,000 lives. Tsunami debris may show up on our shores intermittently during the next several years.

The Washington State Marine Debris Task Force – a group of state agencies led by the state Military Department’s Emergency Management Division – has established a marine debris information listserv for Washington residents and coastal visitors. To join, click on http://www.ecy.wa.gov/maillist.html and choose “marine/tsunami debris”

The Marine Debris Task Force is urging people who encounter potentially hazardous marine debris along the Washington coast to use its toll-free reporting and information line, 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278).

• Report oil and hazardous items to the National Response Center and Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) by pressing “1.”

• Report large floating debris items that might pose a boating or navigation hazard by pressing “2.”

• Get instructions for reporting debris that is not large or hazardous.

With options 1 and 2, callers will be connected to a live person who can dispatch responders.

Hazardous materials to watch out for include spilled oil, drums and barrels, fuel tanks and gas cylinders, chemical totes and other containers with unknown fluids. Do not touch or attempt to move such items. General marine debris, such as plastic bottles, Styrofoam and floats or buoys, is not considered hazardous.

People are encouraged to remove and dispose of small nonhazardous debris items.

Beachgoers and boaters are asked, if possible, to take photos of marine debris suspected to be from the Japanese tsunami, to note the location, and to email the information to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov. If an item appears to have sentimental value to those who owned it, NOAA requests people move the item to a safe place before emailing information.

Great Escape

Old time beach kids remember this is the best time of year to find a good pigweed patch, chop their way into the center, build a fort, stock it with comics and purloined food, and kick out the little kids. It is the place to escape mothers keen on haircuts and school clothes.

You may not have a pigweed patch around your place as they are going the way of the dodo due to knotweed eradication but it is certain that many adults wish they still had their own pigweed patch to escape the cares of the world. But, don’t despair.

You can still go down to the dock and buy a big hunk of albacore tuna and enjoy a meal fit for a king and start planning for razor clam season.

Gene Woodwick may be reached at genewoodwick@coastaccess.com.