NEWPORT — A download of information on Newport’s fisheries, a chance to sniff the salmon and buy straight off the dock — and even swap a fish story or two.
For new residents Paul and Kay Wells, the biggest takeaway from their time with Shop At The Dock was that scientists and fishermen may not be engaged in, as Paul put it, a love fest — but they have a common goal.
“It sounds like the scientists and fishermen are working together to make things sustainable,” he said after listening to Kelsey Miller of Oregon Sea Grant talk about shrimpers using net lights to scare off bycatch and net modifications by trawlers that help them target a particular species more exactly.
Wrapped in sweatshirts and caps against a gradually intensifying drizzle, 15 curious people soaked in facts about albacore tuna and fish excluders and held good-natured arguments over whether halibut is really king — some said no, too dry. Fish and everything involved in bringing it to the table was served up on the first of a series of regular Friday tours on the bayfront through August.
Attendees will get a report from the grounds from fishermen like Tim Mulcahy, whose 44-foot San Diego tuna troller Calogera is based out of Newport for the summer. Mulcahy gave the rundown on albacore — they’ve been averaging 11 pounds, and catches have ranged anywhere from 30 to 100 fish a day.
“They’ll get bigger as the season progresses,” he told Friday’s group. “Toward the end we may get a 14-15 pound average.”
The groups, led by Sea Grant experts, will peruse different boats and gear and end with a visit to the Chelsea Rose, where they can buy salmon, tuna, halibut and crab. Those who plan to buy from the boats are encouraged to bring cash and pack an ice chest and enough of the frozen stuff to keep the product fresh.
Dates: Fridays, August 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
· Times: 90-minute tours run at 9:30, 10, 10:30, and 11 a.m.
· Location: Meet at the sidewalk by Dock 5, Port of Newport, SW Bay Boulevard
· Cost: The tours are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Groups of 5+ should contact 541-648-6816 beforehand.
· Wear comfortable shoes with good traction. Arrive early to find parking.