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In his hierarchy of fish, trout are at the top, caught either in lakes or streams.

Second is petrale sole, a deep-water flat fish.

Then come lingcod, ugly and unique to the West Coast. Then salmon.

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But on this overcast day, Don Channell surf fishes for perch, fifth on his list.

Channell is a lifetime resident of Westport in Grays Harbor County, which takes its fitting name from an 18th-century captain and fur trader, not the weather.

Calf-deep in the surf 12 miles south of town, he watches how the water breaks.

“Find the calmest spot just inside the waves, and something will be trying to find its dinner there.” Channell said. That includes himself.

He baits his line with a small, rubber, salmon-colored centipede.

A tiny sculpin takes the lure. The retired commercial fisherman quickly returns it to the Pacific.

His first catch as a youngster was using a hand line around the dock for little shiners. He studied fisheries in community college and once ran a small hatchery. Crabbing led to an appearance on television’s “Deadliest Catch,” and Channell worked on draggers bringing in pollock and cod.

But on this day he takes three red-tail perch, casting 50 yards out.

They’ll be filleted, breaded and pan fried for dinner.

Just another thing Channell loves about his coastal home.

“This is one of the best places in the world.”

Alan Berner: 206-464-8133 or

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