It's spring chinook season. Why can't I fish off the harbor wall in Tom McCall park?
—Anonymous From My Smartphone
You kids with your smartphones. In my day, we shouted revolutionary slogans while being arrested; you guys just text the media.
To answer your question, I first called Travis Williams, Riverkeeper for the conservation group Willamette Riverkeeper. I always like talking to the Riverkeeper, since he's one of the few people I interview whose official job title sounds like it was bestowed upon him by elves.
Over the gentle snicker-snack of his vorpal blade slicing through orcs, Williams confirmed what I'd already suspected: From an environmental standpoint, there's no reason not to allow you to haul your limit of mercury-laden crappie from the softly glowing waters below the seawall.
So if it's not a conservation issue, what is it? The Riverkeeper, eyes flashing, said I must seek the answer deep within the bowels of Mount Doom, where demons shriek—OK, actually, he just told me to call the Parks Bureau.
There, bureau spokeswoman Beth Sorensen told me that the prohibition on plunking over the seawall is motivated by concern for public safety. Specifically, klutzy anglers (and I'm sure this doesn't apply to you, Anonymous, since you were dextrous enough to text me while being handcuffed) might inadvertently hook passing cyclists and pedestrians as they cast their lines into the water.
Granted, if you were trying to bait your hook on the fly with a jogger's eyeball, you could probably cast all day and snag nothing but air, but that's Portland for you: A few maimed citizens, a blinded child or two, and down comes the heavy hand of regulation. At this rate, you'll soon have to hang up your cell phone every time you want to cook a batch of meth.