Tuesday, May 26, 2020
May 26, 2020

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Terry Otto: That first fish ended up hooking me

The Columbian welcomes its new Outdoors Reporter

The Columbian

Sunfish were fun, but they would never be enough.

Growing up near St. Louis, I pestered my father for something beyond a cane pole so I could try for larger prey, for catfish.

On my first try with my new gear I actually caught one. It was all of 6-inches long, but I was thrilled. That little catfish had hooked me, and a lifelong passion was born.

Catfishing soon led to bass fishing, bass fishing led to walleye, walleye to trout, and trout to salmon and steelhead. Then came tuna and other saltwater fish. I just kept looking for the next big thrill.

A lifetime spent in the outdoors has honed my love of fishing and hunting to a sharp edge. Ever do I look for another challenge, another new thing to try.

This led me to writing about my love of the chase and the outdoors. It became a way for me to share my passion with others and to pass along the many things I have learned. It was a way of giving back.

And so now it is quite an honor to be named the Columbian’s new Outdoors Reporter.

I feel especially honored to follow in the footsteps of someone like Al Thomas. He left me with some big shoes to fill, for Al had developed a loyal following through his straight-forward reporting of all things outdoors in Vancouver and southwest Washington over the last 37 years.

While it is an area I have come to know well myself, I have turned to the pages Al had written many times for specifics and the latest developments. I do hope I can do as well a job myself, for this is a very special area. If you love to fish, hunt, hike, camp, or otherwise enjoy the outdoors, I can’t think of a better place to follow your passions.

While not as extensive as Mr. Thomas’ experience, I have enjoyed writing about these local opportunities myself. I produced a monthly column highlighting the outdoors in the Portland and Vancouver areas for eight years.

In all, I have spent 18 years writing freelance stories for most of the well-known outdoor publications and websites across the west and Northwest, covering everything from panfish to saltwater as well as big and small game.

For my part, it is the incredible diversity of fish and wildlife opportunities here that makes writing about them so enjoyable.

I have also spent many years as a field biologist working with fish, wildlife, and habitat issues. These stints have included time as a fisheries technician with the WDFW in Region 5, and at the Lewis River Hatchery Complex. I also spent eight years with the U.S. Forest Service in the Columbia River Gorge.

These experiences have helped me to better understand the management of local wildlife and fisheries, and have given me insights into how these issues affect the outdoorsmen and women of Clark County.

I hope that I can serve the Columbian’s readers as well as Al Thomas did. I do hope you will find my articles to be as informative and enjoyable.

I look forward to this opportunity, and to continuing the fine traditions that he established.

Terry Otto can be reached at 360-735-4555 or terry.otto@columbian.com.