Washington Coast Fishing Villages
By Barry Murray
Anthropologists, economists, and psychoanalysts, all seem to be fascinated by those of us who fish from a costal river bank in less than favorable weather conditions of wintertime Western Washington.
It doesn't seem to make much sense to the ‘-ists’ crowd that people actually can enjoy the abuse of ‘wetting a line’ in cold weather, hoping to take home something for dinner that may have cost more than simply buying Atlantic Salmon raised in a fish farm in Chile in their local supermarket.
Apparently the ‘ists’s’ share a love of unnaturally raised chicken, pork, and veal. Or have a taste for beef that has spent it’s lifetime standing in a foot of manure. The keyword for their studies should be, “unnatural.”
Half of the value of half-freezing, with raindrops making their inventible way down a hard to protect collar, is that those of us who have lived the life, standing on a bank, seem to have a connectivity with our world, and with each other. Witness the random act of kindness of Bobby asking a recreational fisherman in Westport about the cost of an out-of-state licensee (reasonable), and her being gifted a ‘fresh caught’ salmon that was cooked — in a Chinese style bamboo steamer— less than five minutes later.
If you cannot accept that there is a real pleasure of coming into a warm RV after standing waist deep in cold water with a sting that cuts through thin rubber waders, know we also do “ah-s-s-s” for the freshness of a whole lot of species of fresh fish that can’t be bought in a seafood market.
Steelhead, a ‘thinking mans’ fish, for example. Sea run cutthroat trout on a fly rod who can jump 3 feet straight out of the water. Jack salmon, young male chinook who slip through nets to return from the sea two years early. And, sturgeon if you a lucky enough to land one between 38 to 54 inches in length — as the babies, and the much larger breeders— need to be released.
If your friends only associate sturgeon with caviar, which is very simple to prepare and store, saving it for a special social event, then you also need to show up to a party with a tray of your own smoked sturgeon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, that will drive people to a frenzy asking where they can find more of the delicacy. I have been know to sing the answer, in Rudyard Kipling-esque, “On the road to Willapa Bay, where the fighting fish play”... etc., and chorus.
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