By Larry Ellis
Pilot staff writer
Fish report for Aug. 17 through Aug. 23
Ten days left to get your salmon
Anglers have 10 days remaining to get their licks in on a Chinook or a coho salmon in the ocean. Several coho limits were brought into the fillet station last week as well as a few nice Chinook mixed in with the silver creels. You have until one hour after sundown on Sept. 4 to stake your claim on this crazy silver-mine-bonanza that's been smacking our section of the Pacific Northwest.
Ocean Salmon Project Leader Eric Schindler announced that the 58,000-coho quota north of Cape Falcon will close one hour after sunset today (Aug. 25). That's the area just off the Columbia River.
As of today there was no official announcement that the 50,000-silver quota allotted from the California border to Cape Falcon was nearing its harvest cap, but at the rate folks are catching these feisty footballs, one can never take too many chances. So get out there and get your dose of coho-candy while the gittin's good.
Rockfish and lingcod
biting on anything
Electric fillet knives have also been voicing their sweet songs at the cleaning tables with anglers lined up elbow to elbow filleting some very nice catches of black rockfish, blues, vermilion, Chinas, and coppers.
There have also been some really big lingasaurs brought to the fillet station as well. We're talking lings averaging 12 to 30 pounds. Mark Hazel of Grants Pass brought in a nice 25-pound ling.
Mark really rips when it comes to filleting fish. I first met him a few years ago and pegged him right off the bat as a top-notch southern California deckhand. His single-swipe method of filleting and leaving 1 square inch of skin on the fillet for identification purposes was the dead giveaway.
Keep those cards and letters coming
I received a delightful e-mail this week from a new Brookings resident, Fran Oswald, who had just read a recent column and was curious about the names of some of the fish that were discussed in my column. Mrs. Oswald wrote:
" on page 10A under rockfish & lingcod does Mr.Ellis mean bluefish in the 2nd paragraph? Thanks, Fran Oswald."
First of all Mrs. Oswald, welcome to Brookings. Being an avid fisher, I know you will grow to love this town, the people and especially the fishing more and more each day.
Personally speaking, I not only love Brookings, but in the 27 years I have lived here, I have fallen passionately in love with the ambience of the local community. Brookings is the kind of town that you miss deeply even before embarking on a temporary hiatus.
Mrs. Oswald's curiosity also grants me the opportunity to answer one of the most common questions that fishers and those who appreciate seafood cuisine wonder about: How do you know exactly what you are catching, and are those names synonymous with fish market nomenclature as well as their counterparts you view on a restaurant menu?
Oh, how I could go on with this subject. The answer is, "Sometimes, but not always."
The fish I was referring to on the aforementioned day in question was a blue rockfish, not a bluefish. I can only wish we had the Atlantic's battling bluefish here on the Pacific coast, but alas, we do not.
Fish are referred to by four different name classifications: Scientific names, official common names, vernacular names and market names. Grab an aspirin; it's gonna get worse.
The most precise name, of course, is the scientific name. It begins with fish's genus and then is followed by the name of the species. For instance, Sebastes mystinus is the scientific name for a blue rockfish. Whenever you say "Sebastes mystinus" to anyone in the world, they should know exactly which fish you're referring to.
"Blue rockfish" is its official common name and is the second most precise definition. There is only one official common name that is designated to a fish by the American Fisheries Society.
If everyone referred to fish by its scientific or official common name, everything would be all hunky dory. But there is also a vernacular name, or more commonly, vernacular names. This is where you begin to open Pandora's Box.
For instance, let's look at the most commonly caught bottomfish near Brookings. Most people will tell you it is a black rockfish, and they would be right. That's the official common name, with its scientific name being Sebastes melanops.
Vernacular names can really throw you into a tizzy, not only if you're an out-of-stater, but also if you're one of the local yokels. Around these parts, a black rockfish is referred to as a black snapper or just a plain ol' snapper.
Now, the only true snappers are native to the Gulf of Mexico. But would a person be incorrect calling a black rockfish a black snapper? Well, I'm not going to be the one to correct them, especially if they were a foot taller than me and were carrying a headache-stick in one hand.
People in the state of Washington often call the same fish a black bass, a sea bass or just a bass. It is also called Priestfish in other regions because of its black-cloaked appearance, with the white throat denoting the collar.
So what have we learned from this academic lesion in fish taxonomy? Well, first of all, a black rockfish is definitely not a snapper and it sure as heck ain't no sea bass either. And the only confession I ever made to a black rockfish was in the form of a four-letter expletive I blurted out when it stuck me with one of its dorsal spines.
The market name for a black rockfish is simply "rockfish", because it belongs to the family of rockfishes. Now that's the way you will see it "marketed" in most fish markets and restaurants. But not always.
The worst example of vernacular names belongs to fish we simply know as "cod". I just looked "cod" up and received over 145 different scientific names.
I would love to continue with this repertoire rendezvous if it wasn't for the fact that it's giving me a splitting haddock.