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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

December 21, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Tengu Blackmouth Derby in Elliott Bay ended Sunday with just six chinook caught all season

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The Tengu Winter Blackmouth Derby, which has met every Sunday for the past 10 weeks since mid-October, on Elliott Bay wasn’t the worst on record but nothing to write home about.

“There ended up being six legal-size (hatchery-marked) blackmouth caught, and the record low (since the derby began in 1946) was four fish last year,” said Doug Hanada, the Tengu Club Derby president. “It was starting to pick up a little bit for fish just under legal-size (chinook more than the 22-inch minimum size limit).”

On the final day of the derby this past Sunday (Dec. 18), 36 members turned out and Benny Wong caught a 4 pound blackmouth and Doug Hanada caught a 5-pound, 7-ounce chum.

“The winning chinook was caught in front of Seacrest Boathouse amidst a pile of bait stacked in there,” Hanada said.” Red Stack off Harbor Island produced the lone chum. Members did report catching almost-legal shakers along with the usual small shakers. Fair amounts of bait still inside off of Harbor Island and around Duwamish Head.”

The largest fish caught this season was an 11-pound, 9-ounce hatchery chinook caught by Irene Kiga caught on Nov. 13.

The father and son duo of Benny and Justin Wong of Seattle managed to catch four of the six legal blackmouth this season.

For 67 years, the best and most hearty of Elliott Bay salmon anglers meet at the Seacrest Boathouse in West Seattle have gathered on Sundays in the fall and winter to challenge each other in the derby.

The derby was named after Tengu, a fabled Japanese character who stretched the truth. Like Pinocchio, Tengu’s nose grew with every lie.

In good years, it is not out of the norm to have more than 50 to 100 fish weighed in by the end of the 10-week season, but in recent years the catches have dipped to single digits.

The 2010 record low beat the previous low of 10 fish in 2009, and 20 fish set in 2003. The record catch was 234 in 1979.

In the derby, only mooching (fishing using a banana-style lead weight to a leader with a herring) is allowed. No artificial lures, flashers, hoochies (plastic squids) or other gear like downriggers are permitted.

The Tengu Awards Banquet is 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14 at Sun Ya Restaurant, 625 7th Avenue South in Seattle. Cost is $17 for adult, and $10 for children 12 years and under. For details, email ikatori@aol.com (preferred) by Jan. 10.

(Photo courtesy of the Tengu Blackmouth Derby)

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