Oregon Tavern Age: Fishing

A shaggy OTA dog inside Turkey’s scratched at the door. He’d lapped up a bowl of Miller High Life and needed a nap down by the creek. A regular let him out.

A vintage car show played on television. The Camaro was killing it.

An OTA man walked in and another OTA Man said, “How was the fishing?”

“None for us.”

But he’d back in the morning. He sort of had a job, but work could wait. It was only some rich person’s roof and the rich person hadn’t seen the house in years.

It was a parking lot at the mouth of the Rogue River—maybe 300 boats. Salmon were running and every river mouth along the Oregon Coast was a parking lot. The last generation of Oregon fishermen were having a field day, or not, drinking cheap lagers in celebration or commiseration. Cheap lager can easily go both ways.

An OTA woman ordered her third white wine. Turkey’s has only one brand. Same for red.

The talk turned to fog and smoke from forest fires. There was acceptance and denial that climate change was responsible. The conversation didn’t get heated.

Gary and Linda showed up, both looking dapper as ever. They told me a story about their recent free tuna giveaway in Turkey’s parking lot. It went something like this:

They had a buddy, a fisherman on a Charleston tuna boat, who couldn’t sell the smaller fish to the wholesaler. Gary and Linda hightailed it up to Charleston and their friend dumped the unsold tuna into the back of Gary’s truck. Gary iced it down and drove straight to Turkey’s. He and Linda went inside and told the regulars about the free tuna. The word spread like wildfire and they came out of the hills, from miles around, for the bounty. The tuna was gone in a flash and Linda said a few folks got greedy. Free tuna right off the boat can do that to a man, but in case, it was the women.