BEYOND THE BATHROBE: For years now, hotel companies and travel outfits have compiled lists of the common items the occasional wily guest will pinch from a room upon leaving. Wily, of course, until the guest receives a bill for that bathrobe they slipped into the suitcase, or the full set of towels, or a piece of the furniture (seems impossible, but longtime hoteliers all seem to possess a colorful story or two). But what has never made those "popular to pinch from a hotel" lists, at least thus far, is a large and beloved fish sign, a shingle that's come to mean a lot to the property and the people who stay there. Fish signs, as a rule, tend to stay put, except for the much-photographed one hanging at Nick's Cove Restaurant, Oyster Bar & Cottages on Tomales Bay.
FAREWELL, FISHY: It has vamoosed, flown the coop, and while we ponder if the fish on the sign somehow came to life and leaped back into the bay one night, unseen by any onlookers, let us also ponder the big-of-heart approach the hotel is taking regarding its absence. It hasn't put out an countywide alert or all-points bulletin, but it is selling #ReturnTheFish t-shirts "to raise funds and awareness for the United Anglers of Casa Grande." The group has some nature-sweetness at its heart, as it is a "non-profit educational organization whose purpose is to promote environmental awareness and activism through hands-on habitat restoration."
IT'S A RESTORATION... that helps the Steelhead trout and other fish species, so the connection between the fundraiser, the missing sign, and the beneficiary holds plenty of water. As for the fish sign? It disappeared in the middle of October. If you know Nick's Cove, you've seen it hanging, for a good ol' long time, at the pier. Want to help both an organization that helps real fish and the making of a new fish sign? Buy the $30 t-shirt online or at the on-site restaurant by Dec. 15. The money-split is a halfsies kind of deal: Half will go to the United Anglers of Casa Grande, and half to the fresh fish sign of the future. There's also an Instagram contest, too, to support the #ReturnTheFish campaign. And wherever the old fish sign went? Happy trails to it and best of luck. Maybe it did really jump into the bay one night in order swim off into the wider ocean, like in a fairy tale? We hope in our heart this is so.