CRITFE officers rescue swamped anglers

Two fishermen on a boat in the Columbia River were rescued on the morning of Feb. 12 by officers of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Enforcement (CRITFE).

The CRITFE office received a cell phone call at 9:40 a.m. from the fisherman saying their boat engine had quit and they were taking on water due to rough water conditions, according to Chief John B. Johnson.

Sgt. Ted Lame Bull was on patrol and was dispatched to locate the boat. He reported that the boat was 100 yards out from the Oregon shore about five miles west of Hood River.

At the same time, Officer Lori Watlamet, accompanied by Johnson, launched the CRITFE patrol boat at about 10 a.m. in Hood River and headed west at high speeds in spite of the rough water conditions.

Johnson said that when the patrol boat was halfway to the disabled boat Lame Bull advised Watlamet over the radio to "run hard" because the fishermen were bailing water out of their boat to keep from sinking.

Watlamet and Johnson arrived at 10:19 a.m., and found the disabled boat low in the water. It was attempting to tow a large bow-picker laden with heavy, wet nets on the reel and containing a significant amount of water, Johnson said.

"In the rough water conditions, the towing operation was slow and placing significant stress on the enforcement boat's engine," Johnson said. "The rescue was finally concluded when Officer Watlamet brought the fishing vessel and crew into the Wind River ramp on the Washington side."

"We could have easily lost two tribal fishermen (in the incident) if not for a reliable, well-maintained patrol boat and the skilled operation capabilities of Offkcer Watlamet," Johnson said.

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