Community Spotlight: Captain Keith Robbins of Spot Tail Salmon Guide

Captain Keith Robbins has been casting his reel in the Puget Sound for his entire life. A commercial boat captain for three decades and owner of fishing tour boat company Spot Tail Salmon Guide, few people know the Puget Sound as well as Captain Keith. We talked to the local fishing boat owner to get some insight on what life is like as a captain in Seattle. Here’s what he had to say:

How did you become a fishing boat captain?

I’m a lifelong fisherman and I turned my favorite hobby into a career. When I was a kid, my mom used to drop me off at the dock in the morning and pick me up at the end of the day, (back when you could do that kind of thing). All I know is the only reason I’ve ever worked any job is to support my fishing habit. I’ve spent last three decades building a career around sharing my favorite thing to do with guests from all over. We offer year round trips for fishermen and women of all experience levels.

What’s the largest fish ever caught on your boat?

A four and a half foot sturgeon was the largest fish, and the largest salmon was 35 pounds and nine ounces.

What other types of wildlife do you see on the Puget Sound?

The most memorable animals are always the Orcas (although I haven’t seen any since yesterday). Humpback whales are more rare but we do occasionally see them. We have  seen deer swimming in the Sound from time to time, and those are always interesting to see too.

What’s something crazy or surprising that’s happened on one of your fishing trips?

I once had the old catcher for the Mariners, Dan Wilson, on my boat. His son hooked a King Salmon (his third for the day), but got tired and let go of the rod and it fell in the water. Right after his son dropped the line, Dan hooked a fish. When Dan brought his line up, he had also hooked his son’s line, so I grabbed it and started to pull it in. I realized there was a fish on that line, and one on his son’s line as well.  I grabbed the butt of the rod and reeled it a few cranks to make sure the salmon was still on. Then, I handed it back to Dan’s son, which had his rod AND the fish he hooked. That was when I realized Dan was a really good “catcher.”

What makes Spot Tail Salmon Guide different from other fishing trip companies?

We specialize in mooching. Mooching is a local fishing method where you will hold the rod, feel the bite, and set the hook yourself. Where trolling is a laid back and stationary, mooching is an active experience where you work the bait at different depths. We also offer saltwater salmon fishing, bottom fishing, and sightseeing tours.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I love taking new anglers out on the sound and helping them make their first catch.  I’m lucky to spend my days on the water helping people enjoy their vacations and celebrate memorable occasions. From the sites of the sound to the best technique, I try to share all of my favorite things about fishing with every guest who boards my boat.

To learn more about Captain Keith and his crew of Spot Tail Salmon Guides, visit their website. To keep up to date with the latest neighborhood news, join the Ballard Community Facebook Group!

Images courtesy of Spot Tail Salmon Guide.

 

A Look at The Ballard Locks After 100 Years

Last Sunday, July 9th, the city turned out to celebrate the Ballard Locks’ 100th anniversary with a boat parade. This facility, officially called the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, has been an essential part of Seattle’s infrastructure, in addition to playing a key part in our city’s modern development.

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and Lake Washington Ship Canal were formally opened in July 1917, named after a U.S. Army Major who served as the Seattle District Engineer for the Corps from April 1906 until September 1908. They were built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, designed to be a commercial navigation route that would preserve salmon habitats and migration routes and also prevent further displacement of Native American people in the area.

By opening the local waterways to maritime commerce, the Locks played a key part of making Seattle the major port city it has become. “The waterway provided a route for boats to bring cargo to and from the region, from oil and steel to hats and coats, and to push and pull tons of logs into Lake Washington from logging camps around Puget Sound. And many new maritime businesses also opened on the shores of Lake Union and Salmon Bay, including boatbuilders, sawmills and William Boeing’s first seaplane factory,” a Seattle Magazine article reported.

The Ballard Locks have two locks of different sizes, a spillway to facilitate water level control, and a fish ladder to support fish migration, primarily salmon. Its grounds include a visitors center and the Carl S. English, Jr. Botanical Gardens.

Today, the locks serve three primary purposes:

  1. Maintain the fresh water level of Lake Union and Lake Washington at 20-22 feet above sea level.
  2. Prevent saltwater intrusion (sea water mixing with fresh water) from Puget Sound into the lakes.
  3. Safely and efficiently transport boats between the two different water levels.

According to the locks website, the Ballard Locks transports more than 40,000 vessels each year, making them the busiest locks in the entire U.S. Both commercial and recreational vessels can navigate through the locks 24 hours each day (except during maintenance). In addition to boats and ships, the Locks support a significant salmon migration totalling more than 100,000 salmon each season. The site is a National Historic Site (added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978) as well as a local icon, which attracts more than 1.3 million visitors each year. Passage through the Locks, visitor entry and guided tours, and even summer concerts on the grounds are all free of charge.

Perhaps most importantly, the Ballard Locks is essential infrastructure whose activity provides $1.2 billion to the economy each year and supports thousands of jobs.

However, this critical facility is in need of significant repairs due to age. The Corps of Engineers is working on the major repairs to ancient machinery, closure systems and more. But the necessary upgrades to the visitor education facilities needs public support. Click here to find out how you can help!

Featured photo source: nws.usace.army.mil

10 Places to Wine, Dine and Celebrate in Ballard and Beyond This Summer

Summer in Seattle is in full swing, and that means warmer weather and 16-hour days are upon us. When the sun is shining and weather is warm, most Seattleites make the most of it by spending as much time outdoors as possible. If you fall in that category and outdoor dining is your calling, our city also has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor restaurants, rooftop venues, and more. If you’re trying to maximize your time spend outside this summer with some great places to celebrate, here are some places to try.

Bars and Breweries

Seattle has enough bars and breweries to keep you busy for a while. Some quality establishments to put in your summer dining bucket list include:

Peddler Brewing Company

This bike-friendly microbrewery and tasting room is a real treat in the summer. With a spacious outdoor seating area in the heart of Ballard equipped with eleven beers on tap and rotational cider, corn hole and other games, and permanent food trucks in their beer garden, it’s hard to beat a summer evening spent at Peddler Brewing Company.

Kings Hardware

Kings Hardware is a great Ballard hub for food and drinks. Their extensive menu features a variety of dining options, signature cocktails, and a variety of beer on tap. Their garden-like  outdoor seating area is a fun place to spend lunch, happy hour, or cocktail area.

Fremont Brewing Company

Slightly outside of Ballard but worth the extra ten minutes, Fremont Brewing Company is home to one of Seattle’s favorite outdoor beer gardens. This brewery features a wide variety of signature and rotating beers on tap that will suit beer lovers of all kinds.

Naked City Brewery and Taphouse

If you’re looking for a great place in Greenwood for a beer and a meal, Naked City is the place to be. With a robust menu of food and snacks and dozens of beers on tap, this place is hard to beat. Their outdoor Walrus Beer Garden is a great place to spend an afternoon happy hour in the Greenwood sunshine. They also have a new location on Camano Island!

Restaurants

Ballard and surrounding neighborhoods have no shortage of great restaurants as well. Some fun places to try include:

Ballard Loft

If burgers, beer, and creative appetizers are your calling, Ballard Loft is the place for you. This casual establishment in the heart of Ballard is perfect for lunch, drinks, dinner, or all of the above.

El Camion

If you’re looking for quality and large quantities of Mexican food at a great price, you can’t beat El Camion. With their restaurant in Ballard and several food trucks throughout the city, this place offers tasty food and pleasant outdoor seating area. Don’t miss their summertime sangria!

 

Bastille

If you’re looking for a great menu and a bit of a higher end dining experience, Bastille is your place. This restaurant features a great array of French and Mediterranean fusion from farm to table. You’ll come for the food and stay for the rooftop garden!

Parties and Private Venues

If you’re planning a party this summer or scoping out locations for big events next year, some great places to celebrate include:

Olympic Rooftop Pavilion

The Olympic Rooftop Pavilion is hard to beat for summertime parties and events. With seating for up to 100 guests and a great view of our city, this is a great spot for parties, weddings, and celebrations of all kinds. They also offer deals with Seattle’s Hotel Ballard if you have guests coming from out of town for your celebration.

Frolik Kitchen and Cocktails

Frolik Kitchen and Cocktails is a great place to celebrate occasions of all time. This trendy venue is great for an evening out on the town and private parties alike.

Woodinville Lavender Gardens

About 30 minutes out of Seattle but well worth the drive, Woodinville Lavender Gardens can be reserved for weddings, parties and more. This rustic venue is a beautiful backdrop for celebrations large and small.

The Fremont Fair- Keeping Summer Solstice Splendidly Strange Since 1971

“Delibertas Quirkas” may well be the best (and likely most succinct) way to describe our favorite neighbor, the delightfully different Fremont neighborhood.

For those of you who weren’t Latin majors (probably all of you) “Delibertas Quirkas” means “freedom to be peculiar” and Fremont certainly embraces this motto readily, but never quite as much as at the annual and highly anticipated Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade.

The Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade are a traditional kick off to Summer around these parts, and are guaranteed to have something for everyone. With nearly 400 artists, craft vendors, food booths and more, you’re bound to find something beautiful, delicious or at least interesting around the city’s most well-loved street festival.

Worried there’s only booths to peruse? Fear not! The Fremont Fair is as diverse an event as Fremont is itself and the Crown Jewel and most famous part of the whole shebang is the Solstice Parade. If you’ve never attended, its sure to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. People powered floats, stilt walkers, giant puppets, dancers, musicians and the world-famous nude bicyclists all gallivant through the neighborhood from the intersection of 3rd and Leary Way to Gas Works Park in a display of color, joy and body paint unique to this event.

The parade takes place on Saturday at 1 PM and its canine counterpart will be on Sunday at 2:30 PM. That’s right, the festivities would not be complete without the Dog Parade! Led by Seattle’s beloved Blue Thunder, hordes of pretty pooches, dressed in their finest (accompanied by their people, of course) will strut along 34th avenue in what might be the cutest and cuddliest parade you’ve ever seen.

After that, check out the Art Cars, an incredibly unique display of over 75 pieces of art on wheels. You’ve never seen cars ‘tricked out’ quite like his before!

If that’s not enough excitement for you, be sure to bring your dancing shoes, as the fair features two all-free stages of musical groups and DJs scheduled throughout the weekend, including a mix of well-known and up and coming local acts.

And of course, there will be plenty of delectable food to feast on, including plenty of local favorites and a wonderful beverage garden featuring libations from this year’s event sponsors, Casa Noble Tequila and Corona.

The Fremont Fair is fun for the whole family and a Seattle-centric event you won’t want to miss.

Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade 2017 Hours-
Saturday June 17th:
Craft Market- 10 am-8 pm
Music- 11 am- 9 pm
Solstice Parade- 1 pm

Sunday June 18th:
Craft Market- 11 am-6 pm
Music- 11 am- 5:30 pm
Dog Parade- 2:30 pm

 

For more information about this colorful celebration including anticipated musical performers and food vendors, click here!

An Evening at the Beach

If you need a nice reprieve from winter’s dreariness, the No Bones Beach Club is one possible place to hang out.  Tucked into a narrow space one half block south of Mighty-O Donuts off Market St. in Ballard, No Bones serves vegan food in a relaxed tiki bar environment. Subdued lighting, palm fronds, colorful hanging lanterns, surf boards, and tiki god masks create a Polynesian, or coastal feel. A place to confide in a friend or friends over snacks or a drink, or even meet a date (as witnessed by the sharp-dressed couple occupying one corner).

Cauliflower Wings, No Bones Beach Club

On weekends, one can choose something off their brunch menu, or in the late afternoons and evenings most days, there are snacks, sandwiches, salad, fried avocado tacos, as well as other grub and cocktails (both alcoholic & non-alcoholic) to choose from. On the snack menu, the Cauliflower Wings have a nice crunch and come in two tasty varieties: coconut buffalo flavor with a spicy kick to dip in ranch sauce, or ginger sauce which has a sweeter taste. Another snack that appeals even to this confirmed meat & cheese lover is the Northwest Nachos, which are smothered in fresh ingredients, drizzled with a delicious mild cashew & smoked poblano queso, then topped with abundant cilantro.

Guava Margarita and Northwest Nachos

The relaxed ambiance seemed to extend to our server as well. She was friendly and helpful, and didn’t give the feeling one had to rush to leave, even on a busy Saturday night.

Each month, No Bones Beach Club contributes part of what they earn to different animal rescues. So you can feel good about taking a break at the beach on a chilly winter’s evening.

No Bones Beach Club
5410 17th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107

HOURS
Closed Mondays
T-TH 4pm–9:30pm
F-SA 11am–10pm
SUN  11am–9pm

Help Ballard Bring Home The Curbed Cup!

We Ballardites know that we’re lucky enough to live in the BEST neighborhood in Seattle, right? Well, now’s our chance to let the whole city know!

The 2016 Curbed Cup is up for grabs and it’s down to us, Vs Columbia City. That’s right, we have made it all the way to the final round!

Now, it’s time to bring it home.  With 5 (yes, F-I-V-E) days to vote for Ballard, and a community of crazy-proud inhabitants, it would be a cinch to take the title. That is, THE title, the whole shebang, The Curbed Cup.

Head over to Curbed Seattle to cast your vote (or click here and skip the extra typing) for our ‘hood before midnight tonight for it to count.

And don’t just stop there, share the link with your friends! Text, them, email them, bribe them into casting their vote, whatever you have to do, get others to join so we can come out on top!

The title is within our grasp, so close we can taste it, let’s not let it slip away! We all know Ballard is where it’s at, let’s make sure everyone else does too! 

Christmas Ships Are Coming To Town!

If you’ve never done it before, the Christmas Ships are a Northwest tradition worth checking out!

The Argosy Cruise Christmas Ship Festival is an annual Pacific Northwest tradition, going strong since 1949. Each year, the Argosy Christmas Ship, adorned with twinkle lights and Holiday cheer, sets sail from a different port around the greater Seattle area. On board the Christmas Ship,  a local choir serenades passengers  with a 20-minute performance of beloved Christmas Carols.

The Carols are broadcast to the entire community through a state of the art speaker system, so if you can’t be on the ship, you can still enjoy the Christmas magic from a distance. Folks from all around the neighborhood gather on the shore to behold the glimmering lights of the beautifully decorated ship and to hear the Carols being sung on board. It’s a great opportunity for a bonfire and mug of cocoa with the kids!

There are multiple opportunities to see or be a part of the Christmas Ship, at over 65 different waterfront locations in the greater Seattle area.  Each Lead Boat has tons of fun going on board, like

* Choir performance on board

* Santa Claus reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

* Ho, Ho, Ho Contest and other holiday activities

* Holiday Gift Shop on board

* Kids holiday craft area and activities

* Full-service bar and snacks available for purchase

Argosy generously donates a portion of all tickets sold to the Seattle Time’s Fund For The Needy, so your purchase of a ticket goes to help those in need, right here at home.

The Christmas Ships Festival is a beloved tradition around here for a reason. Be sure to experience it for yourself this year!

For more information, click here.

Small Biz: Mezzanine Records & Vintage

5In one of downtown Ballard’s oldest buildings on Market Street is a cozy vintage shop, a just south of the intersection of 20th Ave. NW and Market Street. If you walk up a
4few steps, you’ll find Mezzanine Records and Vintage, which feels similar to browsing a friend’s oversized, well-appointed closet. A 1940’s mustard yellow dress with multi-striped skirt hangs near prints from past eras, a beaded cardigan from the 1950’s, men’s classic polished boots and hats, vintage tumblers, a colorful scarf, kitchenware, decorative jewelry made from Italian mosaic, and plenty of vinyl records.

This small business just celebrated its one-year anniversary this week. Karl Zwick and Buffy Ritt, who own the shop, both share a love of vintage clothing, and in Buffy’s words, “We also love shopping together.” They had previously rented a space for three years in Fremont Vintage, an antique vintage mall. 6A woman tries on a long dress that looks “Art Deco” in style. A guy peruses the albums in the other room. Visitors chat with the owners about the shop, and life in general. “Our goal is not to be restricted to any one style”, Karl says. “This is a highly-inclusive store; all people are welcome.” They keep their prices in the affordable range, too. 9Karl, who has been collecting and trading vinyl since the 1980’s, also has 30 years of experience buying men’s & women’s vintage clothing. Opening a store in the heart of Ballard was “an intersection of good timing and the right place”. He always tries to pay attention to what people wear, and listens to “fill in the blanks” for what’s needed. “It’s a learning process,” he says. 11

3

A dress from Mezzanine Records and Vintage

Buffy has previously worked in different fields, including massage therapy and
photography, among others, feeling very lucky to enjoy their current business. “We wanted our store to be a place that we [she and Karl] would want to shop,” she mentioned. “I feel good, excited about coming in to work each day.”

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Owners Karl and Buffy


8Address:
5418 20th Ave. NW (words above the doorway read “5416 1/2”)
Hours: check their Yelp page for updates, but usually afternoons and evenings
Phone #: 206.789.6269
Email: Mezzrnv@gmail.com
Instagram:
Mezzaninerecordsandvintage

Who Painted That?

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henry’s mural on the Sloop Tavern at NW 54th & Market Street, Ballard (Photo: Alethea Myers)

If you live in or frequent Ballard often, you may have seen exterior walls filled with brightly-colored, whimsical creatures and wondered, “Who painted that?” In many cases, the answer is the prolific muralist/ artist Ryan Henry Ward, who signs his work simply “henry”. His outdoor canvases adorn buildings in Ballard, Fremont, West Seattle, Crown Hill, and beyond.

racoon_walrus

Raccoon with banjo on Value Village’s store, 8532 15th Ave NW in Crown Hill (Photo: Alethea Myers)   His pink walruses on Axis Automotive building, Ballard (now demolished). (Walruses photo courtesy of seattlemurals.org)

3425-39th-ave-sw_wseattlerambler

West Seattle home’s sea life at 3425 39th Ave SW. (Image courtesy of seattlecurbed.com)

Although henry has been artistic all his life, he painted his first mural only 8 years ago when a bar owner who admired his work asked him to cover up graffiti on the side of his building. A Ballard News-Tribune article drew more attention to his work. After a career as a social worker, the Puget Sound Business Journal mentioned henry ran a successful landscaping business with his brother. He had to stop, due to a spinal injury.

At last count, Ryan Henry Ward has painted around 200 murals since 2008 on different business buildings & homes: automotive, thrift store, children’s nursery, taverns, among others, and now works on commission. One of his mythical creatures, a sasquatch, is sandwiched on a fence between the Sip ‘n Ship store and Golden Beetle Restaurant, a ½ block east of 20th Ave. NW on Market Street in Ballard. His work has had a positive influence on the Sip ‘N Ship, according to Matt Beavers, the shipping manager for the past year. “We have people from all over who notice the mural first and it touches them in a way, from the heart”, he said. “Because once they see it, they’re drawn into the store.”

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Sasquatch (and bird pal) between Sip ‘n Ship and Golden Beetle on Market St., Ballard (Photo: Alethea Myers)

Baking Up Something Sweet! Hood Famous Bakeshop Puts Down Roots In Ballard

 

Well known and loved pop-up Hood Famous Bakeshop is laying down roots at last, right in the heart of Ballard!

You may remember Hood Famous first gaining local fame and somewhat of a cult following after appearing with the Food & Sh*t pop-up series (which was co-founded by HFB’s owner Chera Amlag) with a routinely stunning rotating dessert course.

Hood Famous made a fabulous impression with it’s delicious and inventive desserts, drawing heavy inspiration from Filipino, Hawaiian and Asian flavors.

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While they have built their reputation on their not-of-this-world fabulous Ube cheesecake (just try and walk past that glorious purple color and not NEED a piece), they have expanded their menu to include even more exotic combinations like Coconut Pandan, Mango Calamansi, and White Chocolate Guava, much to the delight of patrons.

Amlag’s ability to blend the distinctive flavors of East and West so delicately and precisely is a testament not only to her skill and talent but also illustrates an obvious passion for food and culture.

Their new Ballard home will be a to-go only spot, with no seating space offered. However, in addition to grab-and-go goodies, Hood Famous will still be making items to order, taking catering orders and crafting luscious treats for selected retailers and restaurants in the greater Seattle area and Bellevue.

Hood Famous offers something truly unique and spectacular if you’re in the market for something sweet or just want to try something new.

Be sure to check them out when they have their grand opening this Saturday, October 8th, and see what all the buzz is about!

Hood Famous' violet hued Ube Cheesecake at Kraken Congee

Hood Famous Bakeshop 2325½ NW Market St,
(206) 486-6429
www.hoodfamousbakeshop.com

Open Thursday-Friday 12 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.