Beachcombers dream of finding a glass fishing float on the Oregon Coast. Since the early 1900's when Japanese fishermen began using glass floats to float their fishing net, these glass floats have been washing up on the beaches of the American and Canadian Pacifc Coast.
The floats break free of the Japanese fishing nets and can float around in the Pacific Ocean for years. Eventually the ocean currents will bring them to shore in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. They are prized by collectors and even the casual beachcomber can get pretty excited when finding one.
A Japanese glass fishing float can be an aqua color (the most common), amber, red, deep blue and even black. They can be round spheres or the shape of a rolling pin. They can be just a few inches in diameter on up to basketball size. Some even have a frosted appearance because they have been rolled back and forth on a beach of coarse sand. Some glass floats will still have the netting attached.
When visiting shops in coastal communities you will see lots of glass floats for sale. Most of these are reproductions and are made in China. They make nice decorative features in gardens. The largest ones make attractive lamps.
The best time to find fishing floats on the Oregon Coast is from late November through April following a storm. The best storms are those in February, March, and April that have the winds coming straight out of the west. The best beaches are those on the North Coast. This is one of those situations where "the early bird gets the worm" so it is good to be at the beach two hours before high tide. Use your binoculars and watch for trash floating in the water. Watch where that trash ends up on the beach.
You will find the smaller glass floats at the high tide mark. Larger glass floats can be as far as ten feet above the high tide mark. It is interesting that the larger floats will come in first. Then the smaller sized floats and the rolling pin glass floats will come in last.
A good time to hunt for floats is at night. With luck you will be the only person on the beach looking. The shiny floats are easy to see when you shine your flashlight over the sand. Be aware though that glass floats can sometimes be almost competely buried in the sand.
People will tell you that floats cannot be found on the Oregon Coast any more because the Japanese are now using plastic floats. It is true that they are not as plentiful as they once were but there are still thousands of floats traveling around in a circle in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and during storms they break free and are brought by the current to the coastal beaches.
This is the thirteenth year that Lincoln City will have its annual "Finders Keepers" promotion. Every day from mid-October to Memorial Day 2000 glass floats will be placed on Lincoln City's 7 1/2 miles of sandy beaches for anyone to find. These are beautiful hand-blown glass floats made by glass blowers from Oregon and Washington.The floats are placed above the high tide line and before the vegitation line. They are never placed on a beach embankment. Glass floats are never put out on the beach during storms.
Now, if you don't find a glass fishing float, you can still go home with a glass float. In fact, you can even blow your own and choose your own colors. There are three glass blowing studios in Lincoln City. At the Jennifer L. Sears Glass Art Studio located on the corner of SW 48th and Hwy 101 in the Taft District, you can watch a glass blowing demonstration. If you want to blow your own you need to sign up by calling 541-996-2569. Glass Confussion is a studio and retail store located at 1610 NE Hwy 101. Alder House III Glassblowing is south of Lincoln City about a half mile north of Salishan Lodge. To get there, turn east from Highway 101 onto Immonen Road and travel about 3/4 mile.
Floats may be found above the high tide line and before the beach embankment. Floats will not be found in or on the cliffs. Please be aware of beach safety. Never turn your back on the ocean! Sneaker waves and the force of the ocean often move logs and can be unsafe. Floats are not hidden on the beaches during storms.
An exhibit of historic glass fishing floats can be viewed at the North Lincoln County Historical Museum.
When you find a float, call the Visitor Center, 1-800-452-2151 or 541-996-1274, and register your float. They will send a Certificate of Authenticity and information about the artists who crafted your float.