South Whidbey fisherman takes up a new type of tackle

South Whidbey fisherman takes up a new type of tackle

South Whidbey resident John Norris is hunting for treasure.

But he isn’t digging holes or looking for an “x” on a map. The fisherman spends much of his free time throwing a long rope into Whidbey waterways and dragging a very, very powerful magnet on the end.

Norris began “magnet fishing” in November and now it’s a passion of his, he said.

The Clinton resident can regularly be found on docks near the ferry, at Deer Lake or other bodies of water, using what looks like a metal puck to drag up magnetic goods from the deep.

“I’m going to find something good, I know it,” Norris said at a recent excursion on Deer Lake.

Thus far, he’s mostly extracted nuts, bolts, rebar and pocket knives, he said. However, he did find what looks like an old porthole window from some type of vessel and a crab pot.

“In the magnet world, they make a big deal out of stupid stuff,” he said.

His dream is to get permission to “fish” in an old school well or in a pond on a homestead. He’d love to find an old gun or some other piece of “treasure,” he said. Unfortunately gold and silver aren’t magnetic.

And if he does find a gun, he’ll let law enforcement know, especially if it has a legible serial number.

One of the few rules of magnet fishing is to take home what you pull up, he said. Luckily, he’s a self-described “re-purposer.” Whatever he doesn’t use to create something else goes into his scrap pile for future projects.

South Whidbey fisherman takes up a new type of tackle

No license is needed for the sport and it’s not an issue as long as no damage is done, according to Ralph Downs, state Fish and Wildlife enforcement officer. However, Downs said he wasn’t aware of anyone doing it in the area.

Norris also said he hasn’t seen anyone else on the docks with a magnet on their line. It’s especially popular in Europe, he said.

There are thousands of videos on Youtube showing people pulling up antiques or safes containing jewelry, and many of these videos have thousands, in some cases millions, of views.

He hopes more people will get into it. It only set him back $50 to obtain the rope, powerful magnet and gloves for his kit. He has two magnets, one more powerful that’s made for plunking and another smaller one, made for throwing out farther and dragging it along the dirt.

The sand and current in the Puget Sound make it a difficult place for the sport, he said, because the sand tends to cover the goods too deeply. He’s sticking to ponds and lakes, which he’s been looking for using Google Earth.

Norris feels good about his chances of finding something worthwhile.

“I’m just one of those lucky guys,” he said, noting the time he found a human skull in a storage unit auction.

“I’m going to find something cool. I know it. I’m destined to do it.”

South Whidbey fisherman takes up a new type of tackle

More in Life

Members of the public and Whidbey Island Rocks are encouraged to paint and hide stones with Garry oak designs or other local flora and fauna this week in preparation for a hunt Saturday. Photo by Jane Geddes
Island rock hunt celebrates Oak Harbor ‘Year of the Oak’

Whidbey Island Rocks is encouraging people to paint stones with Garry oaks before a hunt Saturday.

Photo provided
The Deception Pass Sail and Power Squadron, also known as America’s Boating Club of Deception Pass, hosts jamborees and other social events, along with boater safety and education classes.
Whidbey boaters promote safety, education

The Deception Pass Sail and Power Squadron hosts education and safety classes, and social events.

Michael Nichols, owner of Whidbey Green Goods, stands in his hoop house, also known as “The Hovel.” Customers visit the Clinton farm to pick up their own produce and plant starts. (Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group)
One-man Whidbey Island farm gears up for spring

The pandemic has brought a longtime farmer out of retirement.

Master Gardener Don Krafft gathers some broccoli in his garden plot at South Whidbey Tilth. He grows several things that are available for purchase at the Island County Master Gardener online plant sale. (Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record)
Master Gardeners kick off plant sale, continue clincs

Green thumbs who have had a taste of spring sunshine and want to begin planting can do so with the help of the Island County Master Gardeners.

Photo provided
Stella Rowan, left, Savannah Mounce and Luna Grove, right, get together for swims and photoshoots like this one at Deception Pass State Park. The trio of two mermaids and a self-described “heavy metal selkie” call themselves the Whidbey Island Sirens.
Whidbey Island Sirens making quite a splash

The trio will be at Windjammer Park in Oak Harbor this Saturday.

Frances Schultz, holding a picture of her younger self, recently turned 100 years old. Her daughter, Connie Van Dyke, right, said her mother’s photo looks like one of actress Barbara Stanwyck. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
At 100, Oak Harbor woman reflects on busy life

Frances Schultz turned 100 years old on March 30.

Joel Atienza’s uniform’s USAF/USSF patches prior to transfer. Photo provided
Oak Harbor 2010 grad selected for U.S. Space Force

Joel Atienza’s advice to Space Force hopefuls? “Remember, ‘The sky is not the limit.’”

The Oystercatcher’s owner and chef, Tyler Hansen, prepares a dozen 3 Sisters beef bolognese lasagnas to go on the shelves at 3 Sisters Market. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Chef liaises with other business owners

A Coupeville chef has expanded his partnership with local business owners to… Continue reading

Joe Gunn holding a freshly backed rhubarb pie. (Photo by Harry Anderson)
How a pie on the Rock became a brand and legend

Whidbey Pies is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

Color Guard Capt. Mike Hutchins, at left, and John Kraft present the Sons of the American Revolution Bronze Good Citizenship Medal to Bobbi Lornson, center. (Photo by Teresa Addison)
Oak Harbor woman awarded ‘Good Citizenship’ medal

Bobbi Lornson, past president of the Oak Harbor Lions Club president and volunteer, was recently recognized for her contributions to the community.

Tim Leonard, owner of the Machine Shop in Langley, hangs a purple neon star he made on the wall of his arcade. Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group
Neon art show colorizes Machine Shop’s reopening

A cacophony of happy buzzers and bells and a riot of glowing… Continue reading

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
Third grader Laszlo McDowell gets up close and personal with a gray whale skull.
Students learn about being ‘whale-wise’

South Whidbey Elementary School students got a taste of what it would be like to live as gray whales.