Thursday, July 26, 2012

See More Aquarium

Another day at an aquarium- this time at the Oregon Aquarium at Newport, Oregon. This aquarium has a small tropical section but is primarily dedicated to species of the North West. And the first and only aquarium where we have seen and been able to touch live abalone- worth the price of admission all by itself! Very nice day! Here are some images from the day.....

Friday, July 20, 2012

Marilyn's Birthday 2012

Whoa! What a busy day we planned for Marilyn's birthday yesterday. Got up early and ventured out onto the clamming mud flats of the Siuslaw River and got us a mess of softshells, called Bay Clams here or Mud Clams. We did pretty well and had the flats to ourselves because this is a tough row to hoe! Walking on the flats is hard enough but if you stop moving you sink even further and become stuck big time. It only took us an hour to get our clams but we were physically drained after that. So we brought the clams home and cleaned them up and steamed them for chowder. Rested just a bit then, headed off for the crabbing dock. I made a stop at the Sportsman tackle shop on the way and picked up a big package I had secretly arranged for a day earlier. I carried it out much to Marilyn's shock and awe and she played let-me-guess until we reached the dock where she opened it up. Marilyn-sized crab traps- three of them- the number each person is permitted to use. She loves crabs and she loves crabbing but the three larger ring traps we throw are too heavy for her especially on the retrieve, so this remedied that issue. And to show me how it's done, she promptly caught 5 keepers in the next couple hours before the tide started running too hard to fish. How many did I catch in the same time period??? Ah, that would be zero! Tons of crabs, but not a one keeper for me. That's my girl!  Now home again to do up the crabs, then off again to town to the Waterfront Deport for dinner. The Depot is a very small riverside restaurant- very nice, and very excellent food at very reasonable prices. Fine dining at value prices on the water- an excellent combination. Derek and Karin had first suggested it and then plenty of locals we met on the docks all said to be sure to eat there before leaving town. Good suggestions all!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Florence Oregon Overview

Another busy day!  A stroll downtown. Some shopping (for bait!)  Crabbing on the dunes pier where the crabs were running big today. Followed up by some "hot-dogging" on the dunes with the atv and a long ride seaside where, among other things, we collected some kelp for "seaweed projects."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Scouting and Sea Lions

The scouting mission for our new venue in the Florence area of the Oregon coast is off to a good start. We took a short drive on the vast dunes that are available for atv riding, we found a super crabbing dock and a pier to fish from even for rockfish, checked in at the visitor's center and the sporting goods store (for local knowledge), and went up the bay to look for a good spot for clamming when the tides are right. We also bumped up the coast a few miles and stopped in at the Cave of the Sea Lions, which we entered instead of just scouted because the live feed in the cave which you can see from the gift shop showed lots of the Stellar Sea Lions in the cave including some bulls- a situation not generally expected this time of year. It was a day of dense fog, and the cave is dark to begin with. Since flash photography is not allowed, the combination of low light, pounding waves, rapidly moving sea lions, and the foggy clarity of the air in and out of the cave made for some less than ideal photos, but that's what I wound up with. This time of year, the sea lions are usually all outside the cave on the rocks and the bulls are offshore more, so this was a great opportunity.

If you come here to see this, the largest sea cave in America, be prepared for a 200 foot down elevator ride into the cave which smells very strongly of processed fish. Not processed fish as in fish sticks; I'm talking processed as in sea lion poop. How indelicate. But very real. It is also very loud in the cave- from the pounding waves and the roaring of the sea lions which is very loud when there are a lot of them in the cave.

Today is a damp and rainy and chilly day on the coast so I don't think we will come out of the shoots gangbusters today, but hopefully things will improve in the next day or two and we can get to our planned outdoor activities.

Here's some more from the visit to the Sea Lion Cave:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Looking For Chinook

A nine hour day on the bay with a guide and another guy that I got paired up with to fish for the day produced only one salmon bite and as luck would have it, it was not my turn on the rod. We fished three rods on troll and alternated hours for "bite" and when it came at 2:30 in the afternoon, it was the other guy's turn. That bite produced a 34 pound, wild, male Chinook (King Salmon). It was an epic battle and took a chase through a field of other boats who were scrambling to get out of the way fast enough. I don't think that fish ever would have been landed without the chase- just too strong! It was a thing of beauty in the net, on the deck and in the cooler, which by the way wasn't quite big enough to lay it in there flat (and this was a big cooler). I've been trying to catch my first Chinook since 2007 and for the time being that mission goes unfulfilled. But I felt particularly fortunate to be on about the only boat that landed a fish on this day, and for my partner, who was on his first ever salmon trip- it was sooooo exciting and I enjoyed the experience immensely. Can't help wishing there could have been one more good bite- but maybe next time!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Going Rogue

Don't worry! This isn't the story of Sarah Palin by the same name: Going Rogue. Not at all. This is about history. This is about a river runs through it. This is about a natural water park. This is about jet boating on the mighty Rogue River. We've been here for more than a week already- musseling, fishing, crabbing and sight-seeing. This added a whole new dimension to our local tour.

Originally, the mail boats were rowed by oar, towed by horse and man for the intent purpose of getting mail from the coast to the village of Agnes. Later they tried outboard engines but the swiftness of the river and the shallowness at times of the year made the run difficult at best. Eventually a jet pump was put into service, then a double, and now triple jet engines (with about 1500 horse power) are in service and function not only as mail boats but a wild ride on the Rogue complete with rapid running, 360 degree spins and "break checks" that drench the paying customers on the ride. All in the name of good fun, which it certainly is. Again, though, don't worry! The mail is in a "dry bag" as were my cameras (most of the time).

The boats can do 50 mph and it doesn't matter whether that is upstream or down in the calm or in the rapids. Those boats have big power! They only need 6 inches of water even fully loaded to travel the river. They navigate the waterway much like an air boat would buzz through the Everglades.

We saw wildlife: ospreys, eagles, otters, fish, deer (no bears on this run). Scenery is outstanding. No water park offers more thrills. And we got all this on the ONLY sunny day we have had since we are here. Big time fun.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Here Fishy Fishy

I've been deep sea fishing and boating for more than 50 years now and I have, no matter the conditions, never gotten sea sick. The record is still intact but it darn near ended today. Went out with Five Star Charters out of Gold Beach, Oregon. They are a wonderful family operated charter company! The six o'clock departure left the dock in a heavy fog. Very heavy. That's been how every day here has started so far so it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. The port seas were dead calm. But the minute we left the safety of the harbor and passed the end of the rock jetties that protect it, it was obvious conditions on the outside were quite different. It wasn't windy there but there was a large and building swell that I will call "confused."  You never knew where it was rolling into the boat from or how high the swell would be. I felt fine for about 20 minutes on the way out to the fishing ground, and maybe I would have been fine all day, no telling, but when the guy fishing next to me began his full day of hurling, it got harder and harder for me to keep from wolfing my own cookies, if you get my drift. At one point I felt sooo bad I handed my pole to the captain and dropped to my knees to hang the head over the rail. But fortunately the feeling passed and I got back to fishing. It pretty much came and went all day, but everything stayed down. Oh yea!

I took my limit in Ling Cod with the largest one of the day, and my seven fish limit of Rockfish (a mixed aggregate of colorful varieties). I was the only one of the six on board that got both limits for the day. I caught a few species that because there was no bag limit at this time had to be released and a few of them were ginormous; that's a word, right?. That's the way it goes. Now when the slide show comes your way, the astute observer will note pictures at the dock.....and then more pictures back at the dock. Because looking through a view finder while out there riding the swell up and down would have been a critical and record ending error on my part and I just didn't do it.

Elsewhere in this post- a picture or two from the spit where I have been surf fishing for perch (I got a 3 1/2 pounder the other night which is huge for that species. Camera was back at the rig.

And we have a few shots from Myers Beach (which always makes me think of Myers Fork, Chickenites). We go there pretty much daily at low tide for musseling, then bring home our limit and put them in the smoker and finish them with homemade chili oil and vacuum packing. Some good!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


 It was one heck of a day on the crab dock! Because the crabbing was poor here in Oregon and the males were offshore (they are the only crabs you can keep here) we decided to drive the 55 miles back down to Crescent City in California and fish from the public crab dock there, where both female and male legal size crabs may be taken. It was low tide- not the usual tide for crabbing, but we went down EARLY and had the pier to ourselves. It was a good move. The slack tide in the heavy fog was a real producer and crabs were coming up 5 or 6 to a haul. We limited out on Dungeness crabs at 20 (that ain't easy) and caught two reds to go with them. 100 dollars worth of crab from the boats, 200 from the wholesalers and 300 from the seafood markets. Satisfying! And tasty! We estimate we threw back 60 some crabs that were just barely undersized. What a fun day! Crab in the freezer!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Welcome To Oregon

Our first full day in Oregon we were out scouting. Down to the fishing dock in Gold Beach to see the boats and line up some deep sea fishing excursions for Rockfish, Ling Cod and King Salmon on the Rogue River. The up the coast a bit to check out the possible crabbing docks and then south a few miles to look for clams and "mussel beach." Still looking for the clams, but the mussels were just great. Found a few fishing spots for surf perch as well, so hopefully we start hitting it hard. It was a super first full day in Oregon.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Crabs and Trees of Mystery

Well paint me blue and call me Babe! Before moving up the coast to begin 6 weeks in Oregon, we made our first try at catching our own California Dungeness Crabs...,success! The keepers went in the pot for a "test" and were given the complete seal of approval. And speaking of seal- sometimes it is hard to keep the trap baited because the seals and sea lions come and steal the fish right out of the trap. A few people were using wire boxes to keep the bait protected, but that didn't work very well as the critters just smashed them with their noses and took the fish. Still, it was a win some, lose some proposition and in the end we all got a piece of the pie, uh....crab.

We also visited Trees of Mystery and the best Indian Museum I have ever seen. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are represented as 30,000 pound figures outside the gift shop entrance and Paul speaks "live" with people as they go in and out of the museum and shop. Neato!