Recreational fishing is important to Puget Sound’s quality of life, as well as its economy, and Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats has mounted a new exhibit to celebrate its history. The exhibit, titled “Fish On!”, examines a time when resorts, such as Cama Beach on Camano Island in central Puget Sound, and boathouses from Olympia to the San Juan Islands invited men, women, and children to venture on the water with a hand line, spoon, bamboo pole, and rented rowboat.
CWB’s new exhibit, which opens December 29, records the stories, preserves the small watercraft, and shares images of the “glory days” of recreational salmon fishing in the region. The story of the development of Puget Sound communities is told by exploring how people interact with the waterfront.
“Recreational salmon fishing in the early part of the last century was as much a cultural experience as a sport,” said Betsy Davis, CWB executive director. “Businesses, like boathouses, resorts, boats shops and tackle manufactures, that serviced western Washington’s love affair with salmon sportfishing drove local economies and buoyed entire communities.”
The boathouses and resorts phenomenon peaked in the late 1950s. At nearly 200 rental operations, anglers gathered not just to rent boats, but to swap lies, compare fishing rigs, and make friends. Fishing was a social experience. By the mid-1960s private boat ownership, declining fish runs, more stringent regulations and televised sporting events combined to forever change the spirit of recreational salmon fishing in Puget Sound.
The new exhibit includes historic photographs of many well-known Puget Sound resorts and boathouses, the stories of the people who ran and visited them, as well as actual boats that were used at some locations. Resort boats will be available for public rides on Seattle’s Lake Union, others will be on display or undergoing restorations in the CWB floating boat shop.
The exhibit was funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants. CWB currently operates historic cabins at Cama Beach State Park. The exhibit is staged at the CWB Boathouse in Seattle and continues through the fall of 2013.
Source: Center for Wooden Boats