Those who participated in the Resurrection Salmon Derby couldn’t have asked for more better conditions with sunny skies, calm waters and a fairly good number of winter hatchery chinook in the San Juan Islands.
Over the course of last Friday and Saturday, 69 teams with more than 200 anglers weighed-in 96 hatchery-marked chinook.
That compares with 47 teams who weighed in 120 fish last year although bad weather conditions on the final day slowed down the action.
The winners of this year’s derby were a grandfather and grandson duo of Walt Vanwingerden and Tommy Vanwingerden of Bellingham who caught a 22.34 pound chinook to take home the grand prize of $10,000.
That big fish eclipsed last year’s derby winner caught by Lance Husby of Marysville that weighed 19.29 pounds.
In fact the second place fish caught by Steve Grey, Mark Schinman and Robert Norling of Everett weighed 21.05 pounds and earned them $2,500.
“The first impression was there isn’t as much bait as I’ve seen historically in December around the islands, which caused the blackmouth abundance to be maybe just a little bit lower than anticipated,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association in Seattle which also sponsors the Northwest Salmon Derby Series.
“Setting the benchmark a year ago when there was baitfish and chinook everywhere may have clouded people’s minds including mine,” Floor said. “Therefore the blackmouth were scattered, but whenever your are pushing 100 chinook in the derby that is respectable.”
“I think fishing was good overall, and once again last year’s Roche Harbor Derby winner Derek Floyd (with Team Defiance, and his co-partners Lance Husby and Scott Bumstead of Marysville) was very smart and found a lot of small fish in the 24 to 26 inch range and cleaned up as the total weight winners,” Floor said.
Team Defiance ended up with 65.32 pounds of chinook for the two-days and took home $1,000.
“It was a very successful derby, and fishing conditions with a lack of wind made it spectacular,” Floor said.
Last year’s team winner, Team Big Kahuna, netted a total weight of 63.52 pounds of mostly smaller salmon.
“This Puget Sound Anglers event has quickly become one of the most coveted tickets on the Northwest Salmon Derby Series,” said Kevin Klein, member of the San Juan Island Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers, which are the host of the derby.
Klein says all proceeds from this selective retention tournament will go to salmon enhancement and hatchery projects.
Derby results: 1. Walt Vanwingerden and Tommy Vanwingerden of Bellingham, 22.34 pound hatchery-marked chinook, $10,000; 2. Steve Grey, Mark Schinman and Robert Norling of Everett, 21.05, $2,500; 3. Jerry Sangiacomo, Tommy Donlin, Jeff Stule, Don Mooney of Bremerton, 16.01, $1,500.
Total Weight: Lance Husby, Derek Floyd, Scott Bumstead of Marysville with 63.52 pounds, $1,000.
The San Juan Islands (Marine Catch Area 7) winter hatchery chinook fishery is currently open, and good places include Eagle Bluff, the Girl Scout Camp in President’s Channel, Spring Pass, and the north end of Orcas Island at Point Thompson, Point Doughty and Parker Reef, Tide Point area, Thatcher Pass, Lopez Pass and Point Lawrence.
The hatchery chinook fishery is also open in central Puget Sound (10), south central Puget Sound (11) and the east side of Whidbey Island up to Saratoga Pass (8-1 and 8-2). South Puget Sound (13) and Hood Canal (12) are open for salmon.
Northern Puget Sound (9) reopens for hatchery chinook on Jan. 16.
(Photos courtesy of Kevin Klein)