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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

February 21, 2012 at 2:56 PM

Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby reveals plenty of hatchery chinook in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca

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Here is the press release from Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby:

On the 2012 Presidents Day Weekend, we got to see why the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby got the nickname “Iron Man Derby.”

Strong winds and unsettled weather tested the mettle of derby anglers. Nevertheless, despite marine advisories and challenging conditions, fishing results were good.

A total of 217 winter blackmouth chinook salmon were submitted, with an average weight of 8.44 pounds.

Anglers were in competition for a tremendous prize list worth $25,089 – including a $10,000 first prize. The final prize ladder had 52 winning fish; the smallest prize-winner was 10.25 pounds, and the winners had an average prize-winning weight of 12.32 pounds. Around 643 fishing tickets were sold.

The first prize of $10,000 went to John Otness of Tacoma, for a 17.60 pound salmon. The $5,000 second place winner was Steven Sevilla of Discovery Bay with a 15.50 pound fish. In third place, for $1,500, was David Hansen of Port Angeles with a 15.30 pound salmon. Fourth place ($500, donated by 7 Cedars Casino of Blyn) went to John Calkins of Shelton with a 15.0 pound fish. (All weights are in decimal pounds, not pounds and ounces.) All prizes except the large cash prizes were donated by area residents and businesses. The large prizes are funded through ticket sales. Net proceeds from each annual derby support local emergency services and other important community needs, in accordance with the charter of Gardiner Salmon Derby Association, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that runs this ongoing annual event.

There was a good turnout for Monday’s Awards Ceremony, which began at 2:00PM at the Gardiner Boat Ramp. This event followed a free BBQ for anglers and also the local community. Five “Mystery Weight Fish,” topped by a $1,000 prize, were selected at the Awards Ceremony. All fish submitted during the event were eligible for these mystery fish prizes.

Derby official Dan Tatum is upbeat.

“The derby went really well, despite the bad weather that kept many people away. The weather hurt our ticket sales this year – the weather, plus the difficult economy. Still we had a great derby, and the fishing results prove it.” Tatum is President of Gardiner Salmon Derby Association.

He adds: “This year, we’re helping to buy a Thermal Imaging Camera for the Diamond Point volunteer fire station. This is a piece of equipment they can really use, but isn’t in their budget. We’ll provide more details about this donation at the Appreciation Dinner.”

This annual community potluck dinner is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 31 at the Gardiner Community Center, and coincides with the association’s annual meeting.

The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby uses Selective Fishery exclusively – only clipped-fin hatchery fish can be submitted. This decision was made several years ago, when the state imposed selective fishery rules in many marine areas. Because fishing derbies put pressure on wild stocks, this annual event provides leadership in practices for a sustainable, year-round fishery.

The Derby is part of the Northwest Salmon Derby Series, run by the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA). All Derby ticket holders are entered in the NMTA’s end-of-year (September) grand prize boat drawing.

(Photo courtesy of the Gardiner Bay Salmon Derby Association, and pictured is winner John Otness of Tacoma.)

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