Arrested – Sort of

One my favorite fishing stories is when we got boarded and arrested by the coast guard. I think it was around 2003, and one of my fishing buddies bought a brand new jet sled. We did quite a lot of sturgeon fishing in the Colombia River in those days, and decided to try fishing the Willamette River in Portland with his new fishing boat. We launched under the St John’s Bridge, and because we had never fished there we decided to cruise around real slow watching our fish finder for deep places and good places to fish. The Portland Rose Festival was close and they had a number of Navy ships docked there in that area. As we wandered around the river looking for fishing spots we evidently got to close to one of the ships. So we didn’t have hull numbers on the new boat yet, our zig zagging around looked suspicious, we got to close to a Navy Ship, and it was just a couple of years since 9/11. I saw a Coast Guard boat heading our way so I said to my friend, “It looks like that Coast Guard boat is headed towards us“, and he said, “It is because I don’t have my hull numbers on, but I have my temporary registration, so we will be fine”. About then they shouted at us through a bull horn, ” Would everyone on the boat come to the back of the boat with your hands up”! I said, ” Sounds more serious than no hull numbers to me”! 4 Coast Guard guys boarded our boat and told us to get on our knees, cross our ankles and put our hands on our heads. I couldn’t lift my foot high enough while on my knees to get it crossed over my other leg, so I asked one of the Coast Guard guys if he would help me out and pick up my foot and put it over my other leg. I think he thought I was being a smart aleck, and he just ignored me and wouldn’t help me. As I continued to try cross them he said in a disgusted tone, “never mind”. I responded with a sigh of relief, a smile, and said, “Thank you, very much”! They towed us into the Coast Guard station and searched the boat complete with divers checking the under side of the boat. News people with cameras came from channel 12 news and we were on the news that night as a potential terrorist scare. I am glad they didn’t use our names or show our faces. I asked the guy who appeared to be in charge, “Do we look like terrorists to you?” And he responded by saying, “No, you like 4 dumb fishermen🥺!” Shortly after they boarded the boat they took our Drivers Licenses, and evidently ran our names through their computers, and as they handed them back one of the guys said, “Who is the preacher?” I said, “I am, and I am going to use you in my sermon tomorrow as an illustration, could you give me your name please”. None of them had much of a sense of humor. As they were getting ready to let us go I said, “You know, you have pretty well messed up our fishing day, how about telling us where a good spot to catch keeper sized sturgeon is.” He did, and we caught some.

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