From staff reports … how we’ll remember 2013 in sports



Walleye catch

Timbers Army section

Paul Valencia in the Black Hole

The elusive walleye

For decades, I’d been trying to catch a walleye in the Columbia River.

I’d netted them for my neighbor on the Oregon side of Government Island and on Ough Reef at Washougal. I was in the boat with author and tournament angler Ron Boggs when he caught them near Arlington, Ore.. I’ve watched Jim Liddell of the Oregon Bass and Panfish Club catch them at Coon Island in the Multnomah Channel.

It had gotten to the point where I no longer much cared to fish for walleye, because I never, ever caught one.

Then one magical hour happened on July 11 at Coon Island. We launched at Gilbert River ramp on Sauvie Island at 7:30 a.m. and at noon my streak of never catching a walleye continued.

Just a bit downstream of the island, I caught one — a nice 24-incher on a chartreuse spinner and nightcrawler trolled downstream.

In the next 60 minutes, I caught three more and my neighbor caught one.

Then it got windy — too windy to fish effectively — ending the day.The next weekend I tried again at Coon Island. The new streak of not catching walleye has begun.

— Allen Thomas

Joining the Army

There is always special excitement on the opening day of a new season.

That was certainly the case on March 3, when the Portland Timbers kicked off their 2013 season. In addition to the usual anticipation, this match featured a marquee opponent in the New York Red Bulls, and was the coaching debut of Caleb Porter.

For me, it was a chance to experience the passion of the Timbers Army.

In my role as Columbian reporter, I am usually perched in the press box for matches. But on that afternoon I watched from near the Timbers Army section at Jeld-Wen Field.

It was a gas — and not only because the green smoke bombs that celebrated three Timbers goals made my eyes water. While there is a fine overview of the action from the press box, watching from the north end of Jeld-Wen Field provides a sense of participation that took me back to my time in high school when I sat among the throng at many a Timbers NASL match.

From my point of view, spending the opener among the passionate throng of fans provided a reminder that for the fans, a Timbers game is more than a contest. It’s an experience.

— Paul Danzer

Up close and personal

Television has a way of enhancing sports. But I’m not sure it can do justice to the noise, speed and violence of the NFL when seen from the field.

The NFL allows sportswriters on the sidelines when there are 3 minutes left in the game. I’ll never forget my first foray to field level when the Seattle hosted San Francisco on Sept. 15.

I’ve seen many cringe-worthy hits up close during high school games. But NFL hits are the kind of impact that reverberates off your chest from 20 feet away.

I stepped onto the field when the game ended, nearly walking into the path of Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who was running toward the locker room.

I got out of the way, barely, but was left with the sensation you feel at a railroad crossing as a train rumbles by. Get in the way of that, and it won’t turn out well for you.

The NFL is a league of extremes. And you can’t appreciate the size, speed and power of those athletes until you see them up close.

— Micah Rice

Sucked in by the Black Hole

I started driving around 5 or 6 in the morning. Some 11 or 12 hours later, I was there.

As bad as the Raiders have been in recent years, I had a good feeling going into this one, a rare 8:35 p.m. kickoff in Oakland.

The Raiders scored on their first play on offense. I could have died happy at that moment.

Later, Charles Woodson scored a defensive touchdown. I’m not too sure I didn’t die, because it felt like heaven.

I go to a game every year — a pilgrimage. Last year, we brought our son to his first game. This year, I was solo.

With Mrs. V’s blessing, I was on the road, listening to games on the radio. It was the day Romo threw a fourth-quarter interception and his team lost. (I guess I should be more specific.)

I also got to experience a game from the Black Hole. And I met new friends. (I think we have a picture!)

The drive home that night was a little tougher. Not as young as I once was. But I was on adrenaline from a Raiders victory.

All worth it.

— Paul Valencia