Hooked on Salmon

| April 07, 2005

Sherry Hobbs says she’s ‘not jealous’ of husband Bill’s 17-foot fishing boat, even though he runs to see the boat before her when he comes off the road.

Hobbs had owned his own trucks, but today says he’s a 100 percent dedicated company driver and loving it. “I don’t have to worry anywhere near as much as I did. In this business, it pays to know what you want to be, and I know I want to be a company driver. I don’t have to worry about forced dispatch with Sammons, and I don’t go where I don’t want to go. Like New York City. Well, sometimes they need me to go and I’ll go, but they return the favor. No more owning a truck for me.”

This year, the peak offshore salmon season is expected to hit in the third week of September. Another run will come in late March or early April.

Hobbs’ salmon fishing is a success these days largely because of his close friendship with fishing guide Russ Morrow, who runs Wild West Fishing Adventures in Portland.

“I fished for two years and got pretty much nothing,” says Hobbs. “Then I spent a year fishing with Russ. Different story these days. I’m catching them now.”

Hobbs fishes mainly with bait, especially herring, spinners and various lures. He’s using medium to heavy test on his lines, usually a 70-pound test that will handle 100 pounds, he says.

He gets most of his lures from the Fisherman’s Marina in Oregon City. “Those guys are great, they know these waters, set up poles; they’re top of the line,” he says. “My rods and reels are not the top of the line; that’s way too expensive. I don’t have $500 to spend on a rod. But as a guide, Russ has the best of everything. He lets me use his stuff. It’s like going from a Volkswagen to a Cadillac. I go fishing with him as often as I can.”

Hobbs and his wife Sherry moved to Portland from Montana when Sherry’s brother and sister moved ahead of them.

“I wasn’t crazy about it at first; it rains a lot, but you adapt,” he says. “When I came here, I had a boat without a top. Now my boat has a top. Now I don’t mind the rain at all. No matter how hard it’s coming down, I’ll go fishing in it.”

Despite his caution, Hobbs has been caught offshore in dangerous situations.
“The weather can change so quickly. If you don’t keep an eye on it all the time you can be caught in a heartbeat. You turn around, and there’s fog and you’re in it, or rain so hard you can’t see through it, or waves that can swamp you.”

On Father’s Day this year nine people died, two are still missing and eight survived when a charter fishing boat was sunk by a huge wave as it tried to cross the sand bar at the entrance to Tillamook Bay, a regular haunt of Hobbs.

Offshore, one huge wave nearly did it for Hobbs.

“I was out there and suddenly there was a 20-foot wave coming at me, and it was coming over me. I couldn’t get out of the way,” he says. “I tell you, it damned near took the boat and me. It came over the bow and was going over the top of the boat, and I was going under it and probably going under for good.

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