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Articles written by Luke Whittaker


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  • Legends of the fall: Chum develop devout following among autumn anglers

    Luke Whittaker, Chinook Observer|Updated Nov 2, 2023

    PACIFIC COUNTY - Each autumn, as the leaves begin to change and children in Halloween costumes take to local streets, another fall tradition unfolds in the small streams and tributaries around Willapa Bay. Lured by their legendary fight and willingness to bite, chum salmon have earned a cult following among recreational fishermen who frequent a number of rivers and streams within the Willapa Bay watershed each fall. "We fish when we can," said Ilwaco-based Spawn Fly Fish shop...

  • Boat work: Do it right or risk 'big ol' can of worms'

    Luke Whittaker, Chinook Observer|Updated Jul 13, 2023

    ILWACO - Under a high July sun, shipwright Rachel Kuhn sanded the mahogany hull of a 1967 Chris-Craft next to Westport commercial fisherman Chris Cain, who was busy re-painting the bottom of his 46-foot Gulf Craft ahead of the albacore tuna season, now only days away. (Fishermen in Westport and Garibaldi began seeing some albacore relatively near shore last week.) Nearby, Brian Cutting worked to replace the propeller on his 50-foot vessel, the F/V Cutting Edge, a necessary...

  • Not so high times: Marijuana glut stunts local sales

    Luke Whittaker, Chinook Observer|Updated May 4, 2023

    ILWACO - After about five years of producing increasingly higher yields and record sales, one of Pacific County's fastest-growing cash crops is showing signs of slowing down, with some licensed marijuana growers scaling back operations while local retailers report wilting sales. Plagued by a statewide oversupply in the marijuana market, some local growers are trimming production as they struggle to find space on store shelves. 'You just have to try to survive' On Thursday,...

  • Fore! New disc golf course tees off in Long Beach

    Luke Whittaker, Chinook Observer|Updated Nov 11, 2022

    LONG BEACH - A budding sport with a broadening base is now teeing off on the Long Beach Peninsula. In October, the Peninsula Golf Course in Long Beach officially opened a new 18-hole disc golf course, the culmination of a vision by course owner Doug Brown and disc golf course designers Derek Samuelson and Colton Martin. The course, located at 9604 Pacific Way in Long Beach, held their first booking on Oct. 19, with more signing up for tee times in recent days as word of the...

  • Willapa Bay green crab war enters new phase

    Luke Whittaker, Chinook Observer|Updated Oct 27, 2022

    OCEAN PARK - They can crawl, but they can't hide. The war on an invasive crab wreaking havoc on Willapa Bay has entered a new phase, with scientists implementing an innovative intertidal tracking technology to help pinpoint the movements and behavior of European green crab above and below the tide line. The goal of the project is to help maximize trapping efforts by better understanding where to find the highest concentration of the crab, which have devastated clam populations...

  • Sand & 'aardvark snot': The not-so-fine art of sand sculpting

    Luke Whittaker, Chinook Observer|Updated Jul 28, 2022

    LONG BEACH - All you need is sand and water - and a little bit of aardvark snot. The multi-day summer Sandsations event delighted onlookers last week as several sand artists created one-of-a-kind sculptures, particularly along the Bolstad Beach approach, where the week-long contest culminated Saturday afternoon. Among the incredible array of artwork was everything from buffalo to an ever-popular Christmas postcard scene. "It's Santa Claus in a sports car, part of the holidays...

  • History comes alive: Lewis and Clark

    Luke Whittaker, Chinook Observer|Updated Jul 14, 2022

    KNAPPTON COVE - A pair of moccasins might only last a couple days and buffalo meat was much desired after a diet too rich with roots and salmon. The daily lives and dining practices of the Lewis and Clark Expedition came to life during a reenactment at an encampment last Saturday and Sunday at Knappton Cove Heritage Center along the banks of the Columbia River, just up river from Dismal Nitch historical site, where the expedition famously struggled to survive in November...

  • Joyful champs: Comets win first-ever state championship

    Luke Whittaker, Chinook Observer|Updated Jun 2, 2022

    Naselle Comet baseball players threw their hats and tossed their gloves in sheer jubilation as they flooded the infield in a rain-soaked celebration last Saturday in Ridgefield. The No. 3 seed Comet (14-2) baseball team had just reeled off nine straight victories - an undefeated streak the entire month of May - culminating in a 5-3 victory over No. 4 seed Crosspoint (22-3) on Saturday, May 28 in Ridgefield for the WIAA 1B State Championship. "Words can't describe it," Naselle...

  • Holy halibut: Local charters relish bottom fish bonanza

    Luke Whittaker, Chinook Observer|Updated May 26, 2022

    ILWACO - Fishing roughly 20 miles off the Washington coast near a vast submarine canyon, it took the bait more than two minutes to reach the bottom in an ink-black abyss. It's in this deep-water habitat, near the rim of the Astoria Canyon, where one of the most prized fishes in the Pacific Northwest lurks. Pacific halibut eat their fill in this nutrient-rich environment, where a gradually sloping Washington seafloor drops precipitously from a few hundred feet into a dizzying d...

  • Calling all fin clippers: With a record 5 million Chinook to mark, Naselle Hatchery is buzzing

    Luke Whittaker, Chinook Observer|Updated Apr 13, 2022

    NASELLE - It's a simple snip that happens in seconds, a distinguishing mark that lasts a lifetime for salmon providing crucial insight for fishery management across the Pacific Northwest. Fin clippers wanted In Washington a constellation of more than 100 state, federal and tribal facilities comprise to raise more than 200 million juvenile fish each year, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Naselle Hatchery is among four state facilities in Pacific...

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