A Return to Redfish Rocks

A seasoned commercial fisherman, Wilson Thompson is one of the last in Port Orford who fished Redfish Rocks before it became a marine reserve.

But he was back in the reserve this fall for the first time in over a decade with a new purpose: captaining the marine reserves’ Ecological Team to conduct longline and hook-and-line surveys.

Captain Thompson was eager to see for himself what’s been going on in Redfish Rocks – after all, he attended public meetings held before the area become a reserve and he could no longer fish there.

“Captaining the Ecological Team out to my old fishing grounds was a chance for me to see in person how the team works, what they do, and what’s been going on here,” Thompson said. “And the practical side of me signed on to help because there was no one else to do it.”

Our Ecological Team is glad he did.

“Captain Thompson’s knowledge of local Port Orford fishing grounds for longline and hook-and-line fishing made this fall’s field season a big success,” said Mo Schmid, Ecological Team Leader. “He is so easy to work with. He’s straightforward and understands what the team is trying to do.”

After his first field season with our team, Thompson is glad he signed on to help.

Photo: Captain Wilson Thompson holds up a lingcod caught during marine reserve monitoring surveys.

“ODFW people are cool and informative, and they ask questions,” Thompson says. “They want to hear and learn from the fishermen and figure out what’s going on. It’s been interesting for me to learn how the marine reserves program is working and what they’re trying to do in the reserves.”

The team depends on collaborations with fishermen like Captain Thompson to conduct fishing surveys in all five marine reserves and comparison areas. The team is looking forward to next year’s field season with Captain Thomspon and their mutual opportunity to work with and learn from each other.