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Originally published December 3, 2011 at 8:01 PM | Page modified December 3, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Seacrest Boathouse to get new operators

Changes could be on the horizon as the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department is planning to turn the facility over to a new operator that has yet to be announced.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Reel Time Northwest

Seattle native and lifelong angler Mark Yuasa blogs on fishing in the Pacific Northwest.

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The Seacrest Boathouse in West Seattle has been a popular attraction for outdoor enthusiasts looking for everything from renting a boat to grabbing a bite to eat.

Erik Gallanti took over the boathouse in 2001 and turned it into a successful business, which runs under the name Alki Fish and Crab Company. But changes could be on the horizon as the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department is planning to turn the facility over to a new operator that has yet to be announced.

"Even when fishing was closed this summer, we really tried to grow the business into a sustainable place with water activities and tours(by Alki Kayaks Tour and Adventure Center)," Gallanti said.

Aug. 31, the department drafted a Request For Proposal (RFP) to operate the restaurant/food service facility.

The long-term lease that Gallanti signed in 2001 expired on June 30. An extension was granted through June 30, 2012, or until the RFP process was finalized.

The original Seacrest Boathouse was torn down in 1982, and a mobile trailer housed it until 1989 when the City of Seattle (which owns the property) built a 2,600-square foot boathouse and restaurant for $2 million. There is a a 120-foot fishing pier and floating dock, improved shoreline access, landscaping and an extended walkway from Harbor Island to Alki Point.

"We understand the boathouse has a lot of fishing history," said Charles Ng, the operations manager for the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department.

The boathouse has served the sport fishing community, including renting out boats for the annual Tengu Winter Blackmouth Salmon Derby, an event which dates to the mid-1940s.

"There will always be someone (like the Tengu Derby members) who want to rent boats, and that will be honored moving forward," Ng said. "But the facility isn't sustainable with just that and it's not (the operator's) primary business."

Ng said the new operators will be there on derby days — Sundays from mid-October to mid-December.

Gallanti submitted a plan to extend his lease before the Oct. 7 due date, and knew of only one other bidder.

"We were thrown off when we lost the bid," Gallanti said.

During the RFP interview process, Gallanti says he was dumbfounded by the Parks and Recreation Department's lack of knowledge.

"How can you really be a judge of what could be a good fit when you don't understand what's going on?" Gallanti asked of the three parks employees who interviewed him. "I wanted to put bathrooms on the inside (of boathouse), and they didn't even know the facilities were on the outside.

"I have a staff of 20 people on my shoulders, and I don't want to see them lose their jobs," Gallanti said.

Gallanti plans to file a protest letter soon. In the meantime, the Parks and Recreation Department will make a presentation to the City Council in January.

Ng says the transition plan is to have the new concession operator move in by March, and have the boathouse up and running for the summer season.

Notes

• The Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center at the Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday through Jan. 29 for public and private school educational programs.

The center also hosts guest speakers during specific times, and on Sundays there are Eagle information and guided walks along the Skagit River through the Howard Miller Steelhead Park. Details: www.skagiteagle.org or 360-853-7626.

• Those planning a winter getaway to Eastern Washington should pack their fishing gear for some decent winter opportunities.

Southwest Spokane County's Hog Canyon Lake, 10 miles northeast of Sprague, has rainbow trout ranging from 9 to 16 inches, according to state Fish and Wildlife biologist Chris Donley, who tested the waters over Thanksgiving weekend. Both Hog Canyon and Fourth of July lakes have a daily catch limit of five trout, but only two can be over 14 inches.

The other winter season trout lakes are in Stevens County Hatch Lake, about five miles southeast of Colville, and Williams Lake, 14 miles north of Colville.

Other lakes open year-round are include Rock Lake in Whitman County, Sprague Lake on the Lincoln-Adams county line, and Waitts Lake in Stevens County. Net-pen-reared rainbows offer a good winter fishery at Lake Roosevelt.

Three Okanogan County lakes switch from catch-and-release fishing to catch-and-keep fishing for rainbow trout on Dec. 1. Big Green, Little Green, and Rat lakes all have a daily catch limit of five trout, which can be caught on bait.

Patterson Lake near Winthrop can also be good for yellow perch during the winter. Bait can be used year-round and there is no daily limit on perch.

Those heading to certain lakes should know that WDFW access sites require anglers to display the WDFW vehicle use permits. Non-fishing recreationists who use the access sites for other activities need to have a Discover Pass.

• During the holiday season, several Audubon Society Chapters conduct the annual Christmas Bird Counts throughout Washington. The Audubon needs veteran and novice wildlife watcher to contribute their sightings over a 24-hour period to the world's longest-running bird database. Details: www.wos.org.

• The next coastal razor clam dig is this Saturday at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks, and open from noon to 11:59 p.m. Low tide that day is a minus-0.5 feet at 6:30 p.m.

The best digging period is usually one to two hours before low tide so part of the dig should occur right before it gets dark.

Other digs are scheduled for Dec. 22, -0.9 at 4:40 p.m. at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; and Dec. 23, -1.4 at 5:29 p.m. at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. More digs are also planned later in January as well as more during spring time. Some of those specific dates should be announced by early January.

• Chum and coho salmon are returning to Piper's Creek at Carkeek Park in the heart of Seattle. The public is invited for salmon watching events 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends through Dec. 11. Salmon Stewards greet guests by the creek to explain the salmon's life cycle and habitat. The events are sponsored by the Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project, Seattle Public Utilities, and Seattle Parks' Environmental Learning Centers. Details: 206-684-5999 or email bill.malatinsky@seattle.gov.

• Mountain Madness, Inc. is offering avalanche awareness clinics in association with the Friends of the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center. The informational clinic is open to all winter recreationists. Dates: Jan. 10, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Seattle REI store; Dec. 6 and Jan. 9, 6:30-8 p.m. at Second Ascent in Seattle; Dec. 15 and Jan, 12, 6-8 p.m. at the Evo store in Seattle; and Feb. 15, 7-8:30 p.m. at the REI store in Tukwila. Details: www.mountainmadness.com.

• The Tengu Winter Blackmouth Derby is Sunday at the Seacrest Boathouse in West Seattle. The derby is held every Sunday at daybreak until 11 a.m. Other dates: Dec. 11 and 18. Cost is $15 and $5 for kids under age 12. Rental boats are available 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and costs $65 for boat only, and $85 for boat and motor. Tickets are available at the Seacrest Boathouse, Linc's Tackle Shop in Seattle, Auburn Sports and Marine, Outdoor Emporium in Seattle, and Sportco in Fife. Details: 206-324-7600.

• The Washington Fly Fishing Club is hosting three fly-fishing classes:

An eight-week Beginning Fly-Tying Class is held every Thursday, and starts Jan. 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Mercer Island Covenant Church, 3200 78th S.E. on Mercer Island. The class is taught by WFFC members. Anglers will learn to tie 15 Northwest trout fly patterns, as well as, receiving personal instruction on common fly tying skills, and will receive a class manual. A DVD showing close-ups of the flies being tied is also available. Cost is $35, and the DVD is $10.

A six-week Beginning Fly-Casting Class is held every Thursday, and starts April 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Green Lake Casting Pier. The class is taught by Federation of Fly Fishing Certified Casting Instructors and other WFFC members. Cost is $50, and limited to 36 fly anglers.

The Advanced Fly-Casting Class is four weekly sessions starting April 4 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Green Lake Casting Pier. The class is taught by WFFC members all Federation of Fly Fishing Certified Casting Instructors. Cost is $50, and limited to 10 fly anglers. Details: 206-200-3909.

• The Roche Harbor's Salmon Classic Invitational is Feb. 2-4 at Roche Harbor Marine & Resort on San Juan Island. Limited to 100 boat limits (four anglers per boat). First place is $10,000. Cost is $700, plus sales tax $54.60, which includes moorage and angler's dinner all three nights. Details: 360-378-5562 or email at market@rocheharbor.com.

• The Northshore Trout Unlimited meeting is the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center, 18560 1st Ave. NE in Shoreline. Details: http://northshoretu.blogspot.com.

• Mount St. Helens climbing permits are on sale. Cost is $22. Permits are required year-round to climb above 4,800 feet. Details: 360-891-5007 or www.mshinstitute.org.

• The Issaquah Alps Trails Club holds weekly hikes and meets in downtown Issaquah. Details: www.issaquahalps.org.

• The Washington Trails Association offers statewide trip reports and trail conditions. Details: www.wta.org.

• The Seattle Audubon Society offers field trips and classes every month. Details: 206-523-4483 or www.seattleaudubon.org.

• The Western Bass Club meets every third Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Kennydale Hall in Renton. Details: www.westernbassclub.comor www.nickbarrfishing.com.

• The new nonprofit Cascade Musky Association is looking for members. Cost is $25 or $35 for a couple/family membership. Details: www.cascademuskyassociation.com or www.wafish.com.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

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