The wacky weather pushing through the region virtually shut the door on most fishing activities, although a few breaks have allowed limited chances to get out on the water.
Hundreds of salmon anglers braved rough seas and winds at the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca last Saturday to Monday.
A total of 171 hatchery chinook (down from last year’s catch of 249 fish) weighing 6 pounds or more hit the docks between Port Townsend and Port Angeles, with 601 tickets sold in an event dubbed the “Ironman Derby.”
Larry Quesnell of Mount Vernon caught the winning 15.4-pound fish off Protection Island, and took home $10,000. Second place was Jay Campbell of Port Townsend with a 15.25-pound fish, and third was Geoffrey Cobb of Port Angeles with a 14.25-pound fish.
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“There were some decent windows of opportunity on Saturday and Sunday, and I was impressed with the number of fish caught since you couldn’t get to the best fishing spots,” said Tony Floor, the director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association.
“Nobody got out to places like the outer banks (Hein, Eastern and Coyote) in the eastern Strait, which usually offers the best winter action,” Floor said.
The derby, hosted by the Gardiner Salmon Derby Association, is a nonprofit corporation that supports area emergency and other services, and is part of the Northwest Marine Trade Association’s Northwest Salmon Derby Series.
The Northwest Series draws between 7,000 and 8,000 annually. Anglers who participate in the series are eligible for the grand-prize raffle drawing at the Everett Coho Derby Sept. 20-21 for a $65,000, fully-loaded 21-foot River Hawk boat, and a kids raffle for a River Hawk 14-foot Pro V boat and trailer.
Derby series schedule
Everett Blackmouth Derby, March 22; Bellingham Salmon Derby, July 11-13; Harbor Marine Salmon Tournament in Everett, July 26-27; South King County Puget Sound Anglers Salmon Derby at Tacoma in Point Defiance Park, Aug. 2; Gig Harbor Puget Sound Anglers Salmon Derby, Aug. 9; South Sound Salmon Derby, Aug. 16; Sekiu Salmon Derby, Aug. 23-24; Willapa Bay Salmon Derby, Aug. 30; Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby in Vancouver, Aug. 30; Edmonds Coho Derby, Sept. 6; Everett Coho Derby, Sept. 20-21; Bayside Marine Salmon Derby in Everett, Nov. 1-2; and Resurrection Salmon Derby in Friday Harbor, Dec. 5-6. Details: www.northwestsalmonderbyseries.com.
The Bill Hayes Hot Plug’s Salmon Derby is March 1. Cost is $50 by Feb. 28. Weigh-in station is the Stanwood Eagles at 6419 Pioneer Highway in Stanwood. Details: 425-308-9437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Marine areas||Final approval of the next coastal razor clam digs will be known by Friday or no later than early next week. Tentative dates are Feb. 26 and March 3 at Twin Harbors; Feb. 27-28 and March 2 at Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks; March 1 at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks and Copalis. The San Juan Islands will go to a one-salmon daily limit beginning Monday; fishing there has been fair at times. Slow for hatchery chinook at Point No Point, Double Bluff off Whidbey Island, Pilot Point, Port Townsend, Tacoma area, Hood Canal and Possession Bar. Sekiu in the western Strait reopened for salmon. Poor for hatchery chinook in Saratoga Pass, Camano Head, Hat Island, Elger Bay and Columbia Beach.|
|Statewide rivers||The sport smelt dip-net bank fishery in the Cowlitz last Saturday saw more effort but still no catch. The water temperature in the Lower Columbia was 37 degrees (usually about 42 degrees is conducive for smelt migration) and 43 degrees in the Cowlitz. Smelt dip-netting will reopen Saturday from 6 a.m. until noon, and again March 1. The daily limit is 10 pounds. No reports of spring chinook caught in the Lower Columbia below I-5 this past week, although angler pressure continues to build. Most westside rivers were high and dirty from the heavy rainfall, but a few steelhead were caught in the Washougal, Salmon, Bogachiel, Calawah, Hoh and Sol Duc. Many Puget Sound region rivers are now closed, so check the rules pamphlet.|
|Statewide lakes||Klineline Pond was planted with 1,500 trout averaging a half-pound on Feb. 12 and 2,355 catchable-sized trout on Feb. 5. Lake Chelan is good for lake trout and rainbows. Rufus Woods Reservoir is fair for rainbows. Fair options in the Puget Sound region are Blackman’s and Goodwin in Snohomish County, and American in Pierce County. Lake Sammamish and Lake Washington are fair for cutthroat trout. Lake Roosevelt is fair to good for trout. Ice fishing is still good at Lind Coulee for perch and walleye and at Fish Lake near Leavenworth, but the ice was starting to get thin, so use caution.|
Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780