Calling all fishers with tales to tell!

A story waiting to be told!

The March 6th History Forum will be taking a look at fishing in Pacific County — fresh water, saltwater, by lines and nets and baskets and traps from the traditions of  our local Chinooks to the development of the commercial and sports fishing that we know today.  Hopefully, we’ll take a look at the changes in processing and conservation, as well. This is an “All-Call” to any and all who have stories to tell and memories to share about an industry and an avocation that touches all of us who live in Pacific County.

Fishing on Sand Island

Wrote Lucile McDonald in her Coast Country (Binfords & Mort, 1966):  “The Chinooks carried on trade in dried salmon, sturgeon, smelt, and seal meat taken from their own waters; dentalium shells from the Strait of Juan de Fuca; dried shellfish, strung on sticks, from Willapa Bay… The men fashioned the cedar-log canoes and the women dried berries and blubber.  To this day Pacific County is noted for some of these products — salmon, oysters, and cranberries;, and ‘chinook’ is a well-known word to Western fisherman.”

But, how have the old ways changed over the years — for the Chinooks and for the settlers who began arriving in the 1850s?  (And, I can’t help adding. as I consider all of the new construction in our area:  the “settlers” are still arriving.)   There are among us, fishers whose parents and grandparents were also fishers. and who have grown up with the stories of the past and, perhaps, struggled with the changes in this traditional, yet viable and ever-evolving industry.  I do so hope we can get a few to come to our History Forum to share their stories.

At First Salmon Ceremony 2023

Please help spread the word!  Invite the fishers you know to join us on the first Wednesday of March  — from 10 to 12 at the Oysterville Schoolhouse.  Perhaps they remember the Salmon Derbies that took place from 1948 through the late ’50s at Derbyville near McGowan.  Or maybe you were one of the lucky Ocean Beach High School kids who worked at the hatchery in Chinook.  Or maybe you know someone who is a devoted fisher along the banks of Black Lake or perhaps a retired gillnetter or an avid sports fisherman.  Or maybe you know someone who works for Fish and Game who could add their part of the picture.

Thus far,  award-winning author Irene Martin of Skamokawa plans to join us, hopefully with her husband Kent who is a fourth-generation Columbia River gillnetter.  The two of them fished together in Alaska, the Columbia River, and Willapa Bay for over forty years.  Kent is a fourth-generation Columbia  River gillnetter.  I can’t wait to hear their stories.  And as many others as we can gather ’round!  Mark your calendar and talk it up!


2 Responses to “Calling all fishers with tales to tell!”

  1. Michael Stewart says:

    I’m interested in attending as a guest. Is there an address? I’m not a fisherman but interested in history.

  2. sydney says:

    Great! You are definitely welcome! When you enter Oysterville, proceed to the first street to the left which is School Street. The school will be in full view. The doors will be open by 9:30 and the Forum goes from 10 to 12 noon. Free. Hope to see you March 6th.

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