Abby, Livie and Sir Snacksalot, the resident raccoon, share a stare on a recent day in the Gensorek household.

Howdy everyone!

Recently, I was talking about how winter was indeed here and today, it’s in the mid-70s and the sun is shining. So disregard what I said earlier.

The ocean has remained a bit rough — nothing too crazy but just rough enough to keep folks off of it for a while — with the exception of a small window of calm here and there.

Inside the bay, we have a few salmon being caught but nothing to get excited over. Some of the bank fishermen have been landing a lot of coho but almost no fin clipped ones, which means no keepers.

Rockfish remains excellent in the bay if you know where to go and what to use (that’s where we come in). I’ve personally been eating fresh rockfish about five or more times a week as of late and I’m starting to crave a big ‘ole juicy steak to offset it all.

Crabbing in the bay is slowly continuing to improve and we are getting a few keepers off of the docks as well, which is always a good thing to see. Surf perch remain excellent on the beaches and I’ve been catching some honest to goodness 3-pounders lately.

As a side note, I’m also getting tired of eating surf perch along with rockfish. Pretty good problems to have.

In the not-related-to-fishing-but-still-good-to-know category: mushrooms are still bountiful and I’m also getting tired of eating fresh chanterelles. Yet another of the wonderful problems this area causes.

With the changing of the seasons, we are seeing more and more wildlife in the area, including bear, elk, deer, turkeys, raccoon and so much more during our outdoor excursions to hunt and gather things to eat. I have chosen to write about one near and dear to my heart this week.

Raccoons, or “trash pandas” as they are sometimes called, are more correctly known as the North American Raccoon. Trash pand...er...I mean North American Raccoons are a common fixture in rural and urban areas in most of North America and range from Canada to Panama with very few “’coon free zones.”

These critters also used to inhabit Cuba and Jamaica until the late 1600s, when they were hunted to extinction for their meat.

Highly adaptable to most any environment due to their cunning and intelligence, raccoons have been proven to remember solutions to tasks for up to three years. Those of us with children can only dream of a day when our kids remember tasks for longer than 30 minutes or so let alone three years!

“Yes, you pick up the laundry every day, why is it that the raccoons can remember but you cant?”

Living a short life of about three years, these critters have recently been known to live up to 20 years in captivity.

As a youngster, we had three “pet” raccoons that were acclimated to us and lived in our horse stable. We could feed them and pet them but nothing more than that. I had a friend come over from school one day to see the horses and whatever else we had and while we were looking around he saw a ‘coon skin cap sitting on a shelf so he grabbed it to pick it up and wear it.

A problem arose when this particular skin cap was still in use by its original owner. With a hiss and growl this poor young fella quickly let go and ran for the hills. I’m not sure if he never came over again because he didn’t want to or if his folks forbid it. Either way I’ll bet that to this very day, decades later, he still remembers the incident, probably better than I do!

Today we have some of these mostly nocturnal interlopers that visit us with regularity and help themselves to the outside cats food bowl. One of these raccoons is solitary and never brings over friends or family. We have named him “Sir Snacksalot” based on his caloric intake.

Another is a large female with three children almost equally as large that will soon take their leave and venture out on their own. With typically two to five young born in the spring, the mother rarely ventures past five or six acres in range area as long as food is abundant.

She teaches her young how to gather, hunt and forage for insects, plants, seeds — and cat-food — not to mention how to look cute on our back deck so we feel compelled to let them eat the cat’s food.

As a side note, Clementine the cat gets super angry at the entire situation and gives us the dirtiest cat looks one could possibly muster.

There’s a lot to teach in a few short months as late fall is typically when the family unit dissolves and the young go off to ‘Coon U or some sort of trade school to start their own lives as the circle of life continues.

Whether you are fishing the bay or watching for the backyard trash pandas, I hope to see you out there.

Rob Gensorek is the owner of Basin Tackle (www.basintackle.com) in the Charleston Marina and can be reached by phone at 541-888-FISH, on Facebook at Basin Tackle Charleston, or email basin_tackle@yahoo.com.

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