A small piece of fishing history quietly slips from view

  • Wayne Kruse / Outdoor Writer
  • Saturday, September 30, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

It’s not high science to say that depressed fish populations lead to fewer sport fishermen and all they support – tackle shops, marinas, boat manufacturers, motels, gas stations, and on and on. Neither is it a reach to say that the number of anglers will return to historic levels when fish runs warrant it.

If, that is, the tackle shops, marinas, resorts, charter services and all the rest are still there, ready to service a rebounding recreational community.

And that’s why it’s so disquieting to find another major piece of the fishing infrastructure gone by the board, permanently.

I called Kelly Hawley at Priced Less Sporting Goods in Sedro-Woolley early last week, for a fishing report, as I’ve done for at least six years while Hawley was there and for years prior to that under a different ownership.

I got the old “You have reached a number that is no longer in service” recording.

I finally contacted Hawley on his cell phone, and found out Priced Less Sporting Goods was no more. Hawley had closed the doors and gone into a different, and hopefully more lucrative, business.

“Had to do it,” he said, “before I owed money to everyone in the industry. It just wasn’t there any more. A lack of fishing opportunity, certainly, but worse the fact that even when we have runs of salmon or steelhead, you can’t count on the state opening a season, or a viable season, or giving you enough advance notice that you can prepare for a season or contact persons who might be interested in a season. The management is as bad as the fishing.”

And so disappears the major fishing/hunting headquarters of the lower Skagit Valley. The shop that was inextricably linked with the Wildcat Steelhead Club of Sedro-Woolley, a group which has fought for years for not only the state-promised Grandy Creek steelhead hatchery complex, but traditional fishing/hunting values in the valley. The tackle source when steelheading on the Skagit in the 1950s supported 40 guides and pulled anglers from all over the world.

“I’ve been here six years,” Hawley said, “but the shop’s been here what? Forty? Fifty years?”

  • On a happier note is a letter from Snohomish resident and avid angler Rick Throm, who increased the local sportfishing community by at least one this summer:

    “Every once in a while you have the opportunity to ‘create a fisherman,’ Throm says, “and that happened to me on August 5th. I had talked my sister Layle, who had never caught a salmon, into going fishing with me in the Tulalip bubble. She very reluctantly agreed, after all the usual questions: ‘How early?’ ‘Will it be rough?’ ‘How long do we have to stay out?’ and on and on.

    “Luckily it was a beautiful morning – full of stars as we pulled away from the Port of Everett launch – and it developed into gorgeous, sunny, dead calm day. I had promised Layle we would leave the bubble at 8 a.m. if we hadn’t hit a fish.

    “She checked her gear, cleaning the line of weeds and resetting it, several times. I told old fish stories, trying to get her excited, and also described the procedure she should follow if she hooked a chinook.

    “She was half-heartedly agreeing with me that the beauty of the morning made the trip worthwhile, when her rod tip jerked to a series of three hard bumps and then went slack.

    “Get on it Layle! Reel! Reel! Hit him! Fish on!

    “She boated this nice fish (a pretty 20-plus-pound king) after maybe 10 minutes of really wild fire drill,” Throm said, “and refused to leave the bubble for four more hours.”

  • The L.L.Bean Hunting 2000 catalog is out, featuring several new products for this fall. One is the New Englander shotgun, a classic, heirloom-quality over-and-under in 12 or 20 gauge, made for the venerable mail order firm by top quality Italian gun manufacturer B. Rizzini. The estimated retail price is $1,995.

    For a copy of the catalog call 1-800-809-7057. The firm’s on-line catalog has most, but not all, of the hunting products found in the hard catalog, at www.llbean.com.

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