Columbia Charter Fishing— Ilwaco Washington     

Video and Photographs By Bill Goodwin and Barry Murray

Travel has illusions that cannot be denied.

Sometimes waking up at a big corporation hotel, with a shuttle to a nameless international airport with sandstone colored floors, that lead to cramped seats in an extended aluminum tube, going to yet another three-letter destination, as PDX, for Portland, Oregon, we almost can forget that the effort was worthwhile. If, however, the traveler steps into a taxi as says, “Take me to someplace that has real meaning to you,” there is hope, yet, for cultural tourism. If I were that cab driver —as I did out of financial desperation for one month before Christmas in a 1960’s San Francisco— it would be ‘flag down’ trip to the mouth of the Columbia River.

Why? Well sometimes traveling in circles all over the globe, brings you back, through a time warp, to your childhood. Such was the trip for me crossing the Columbia River bar out of Ilwaco, Washington, going charter salmon fishing, almost 60-years ago with my mother. A single mom, divorced by a lawyer before the days of “putting hubby through school” settlements. She was tough, Swiss-American, frugal. From an old Oregonian family that had lost adjoining dairy farms for property taxes during the Great Depression of what is now PDX, Edna Louise Egger-Murray knew how to save pennies.

Somehow Mom had worked out that it was cheaper to fish from a charter boat excursions for salmon, than to buy it in a store. Which is exactly what we did. I had an uncle who smoked fish in the pre-home freezer days, so this delicacy actually became a staple of our diet — in chowders, and cakes, puffs, and creamed.

Guess what Mom, going back to the area where Sacajawea became the first female, along with York, the first Black, to vote in a U.S. Government controlled election— held by Lewis and Clark about where to set up a winter camp— I appreciate now how politically correct you were when it came, “To hell with so-called women’s rights... I had a family to feed.”

The good news is that yes, you actually can break-even pound-for-pound fishing the mouth of the Columbia today when comparing store prices of that of farm raised Atlantic Salmon. Also good news to her is that, as you can see, the women (a bank executive, a “Washington State stump ranch” raised magazine editor, and a single mom with a hungry kid) did better than us macho men. Why to go girl!

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