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Captain’s Log: Finding Opportunity in Talons of an Osprey

A hint of opportunity comes in many forms and in the strangest places — like from within the tightly-clutched talons of ospreys in flight.

This story comes from my colleagues along the Northern California coast at Lawson’s Landing, south of Bodega Bay.

Patience is a precious commodity for anglers eagerly awaiting the opening day (April 5) of salmon season, especially when rockfish season is closed and the only real fishing opportunities available from boats are sanddabs and crabs. So, people around Lawson’s Landing were looking for fishing opportunities. Turns out, the clues were flying right over their heads.

That area is known for a healthy population of ospreys, so seeing one is common. Seeing one with a fish in its talons is not all that uncommon because it is what ospreys do for a living. But folks around Lawson’s Landing last week began to notice that the impressive birds were flying overhead quite regularly, always from the same general direction and with fish clutched tightly in their talons. The clues piled up like dead fish.

People with young, good eyes recognized the fish as some kind of perch. Older folks with lesser vision but greater experience were one step ahead of the youngsters and had figured out that the birds were working the surf zone and catching red tail perch, which are known to congregate in the surf near there at this time of year.

Everyone gathered their surf fishing gear, bought some bait and headed in the direction the birds were coming from. A red tail perch bite of epic proportions commenced, and everyone got a nice meal out of the collaboration between people and ospreys.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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