Local Business News on the Southern Oregon Coast
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Betty Kay Charters
By Annette Langenstein, Staff Writer

          Margery and Bill Whitmer have owned Betty Kay Charters, located on Albacore Drive in Coos Bay, for 24 years. “An uncle told us about a fishing business that was for sale, and we bought it. We had done commercial salmon and tuna fishing and we felt the regulations were too restrictive for commercial fishing, so we decided to try the sport fishing business. We bought the business in 1990 and now have seven employees between us, the captains, deckhands and office staff,” said Margery.

    Open March through October, the charter service sends its two boats out between 6 and 8 am, closes for two hours, and then resumes from 10 am to 4 pm. 

    “Our mainstay is rock fish,” says Margery. “In the past it was salmon, but we educated the public on the benefit of near shore rock fishing. We fish for black, red vermillion, blue, quill back, China and copper rock fish, as well as ling cod, cabezone, tuna and halibut. The largest volume of fish we get come from the black and blue rock fish. And we have a recipe sheet right in the office to help with preparing your catch once you take it home.”

A variety of rock fish are caught by anglers who fish  on one of two boats owned by Betty Kay Charters.

   During May and June, the boats go 18 miles off shore and fish in 600 feet of water for halibut.  The limit is just one fish, but the largest halibut caught on one of Betty Kay’s boats was 100 pounds!  “We provide all the equipment for this 12 hour fishing excursion,” says Margery. “We tell customers to pack their own food, dress warmly, bring a cooler, and also extra money to have their halibut filleted out. They also need to be ready for strenuous but exciting work and some delicious eating!”

 The near-shore fishing is done much closer to the shore in 60 to 120 feet of water. These trips take a half day, the weather is usually a little nicer, and the limit here is 7 rock fish and 2 ling cod.

       “We provide excellent customer service from the time customers board the boat until the time they get off,” Margery explained. “It’s more than just catching fish: the captain and the crew are making sure everyone has a good time. They’re personal, friendly and helpful. Safety is one of the primary customer service issues; we make sure people are safe, we don’t take them out if it’s too rough...we don’t let the ocean beat them up.”

    Margery continued, “This year the tuna fishing produced some really nice catches. Our boats go 30 miles off shore for tuna, but this year they were fishing in the 12 hour time range. Upon return we have filleters waiting to prepare the tuna. We use the rod and reel method for catching tuna and it’s a lot of fun. The boats just troll along and when the tuna hits, the fish put up a big fight,” she added.

    If you’re looking for a great fishing experience in our beautiful Pacific ocean, give Betty Kay Charters a call at 541-888-9021 or 1-800-752-6303. When I asked Margery if she wanted to say anything specific in this article, she replied, “It’s a privilege to go fishing in this time of regulatory management and we fight for the right to go sport fishing, literally, we campaign to keep this sport alive for people. I think that we’re going to continue to see some good fishing because the fisheries are managed well, so we should have a good biomass of fish to catch. Everything looks good for the future! Even though we are completing our fishing season the end of October, gift certificates are available year around. Call 541 888-9021 to arrange a fishing certificate for the holiday gift-giving season!”

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