Salmon fishing is a year-round affair in the Pacific Northwest, and that usually involves some derbies in which anglers turn out to try their luck during the hardest fishing time of the season.
The 69th Tengu Derby, one of the most challenging and longest consecutive running salmon derbies since 1946, will begin Oct. 27 in Elliott Bay.
Last year, the 10-week derby produced 23 legal-size (more than 22 inches long) hatchery-marked Chinook for 46 members. The record low since the derby began in 1946 was four fish in 2010, and the record catch was 234 in 1979. The most recent high catch was 99 fish in 2007.
The winner was Doug Hanada of Renton who caught an 11 pound, 9 ounce chinook, and second place went to Justin Wong of Seattle with an 9 pound, 12 ounce fish. Wong also took top honors with the most fish caught during the season and a total of four keeper-sized blackmouth.
Last year, the opener on Oct. 28 produced two fish for 31 anglers (Steve Nitta caught an 8 pound, 2 ounce fish, and second was Chuck Hammer with a 7 pound, 3 ounce fish); Nov. 4 had one fish (Justin Wong with a 4 pound, 12 ounce fish) for 33 anglers; Nov. 11 had two fish (both caught by Wong a 9 pound, 12 ounce and 5 pound, 14 ounce fish) for 28 anglers; Nov. 18 produced no catch for 28 anglers; Nov. 25 had one fish (Bob Vick, 5 pounds, 14 ounce) for 32 anglers; Dec. 2 had two fish (Tim Ratigan, 7 pound, 3 ounce fish, and Steve Nitta, 6 pound, 4 ounce fish) for 26 anglers.
The best catches occurred during the second half of the season with Dec. 9 generating three fish (including the season winner by Hanada; second was Benny Wong with a 6 pounds, 12 ounce fish; and third was Benson Wong with a 4 pound, 1 ounce fish) for 27 anglers; Dec. 16 saw four fish (Tim Ratigan with a 6 pound, 7 ounce fish; Chris Peeler, 5 pound, 11 ounce; Benson Wong, 4 pound, 12 ounce; and John Mirante, 4 pound, 6 ounce) for 29 anglers; Dec. 23 with five fish (Ed Vike, 6 pound, 13 ounce; Nelson Park, 6 pound, 9 ounce; Gary Dodobara, 6 pound, 6 ounce; Chris Peeler, 4 pound, 3 ounce; and Tim Ratigan, 3 pound, 15 ounce) for 30 anglers; and Dec. 30 with three fish (Justin Wong, 4 pound, 7 ounce; Chris Peeler, weight not provided; and Gary Wong, 4 pound, 4 ounce) for 28 anglers.
In good years, it is not out of the norm to have more than 50 to 100 fish weighed in by the season end, but catches have dropped off since 2009.
The derby was named after Tengu, a fabled Japanese character who stretched the truth. Like Pinocchio, Tengu’s nose grew with every lie.
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 derby is held from daybreak to 11 a.m. every Sunday through Dec. 29 at the Seacrest Boathouse in West Seattle. Cost is $15, and $5 for kids under age 12. Rental boats are $65, and $85 for boat and motor. Details: 206-324-7600. Tickets are available at Linc’s Tackle Shop in Seattle, Seacrest Boathouse in West Seattle, Auburn Sports and Marine and Outdoor Emporium in Seattle.
Two derbies that are part of the Northwest Marine Trade Association’s 15-Event Northwest Salmon Derby Series will follow soon after.
The Bayside Marine Salmon Derby is Nov. 2-3 in Everett, and the largest fish is worth $2,000.
Cost is $30 and can be purchased at Bayside Marine until Nov. 1. There is also a $50 entry fee for the team division. Fishing is allowed in Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2, 9 and 10 only.
Last year, the derby sold 251 tickets with 85 fish weighed-in averaging 7.52 pounds. Top fish went to Scott Bumstead with a 14.4 pound chinook. For details, call 425-252-3088 or www.baysidemarine.com.
The Resurrection Salmon Derby Dec. 6-7 at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, which is hosted by the Fidalgo/San Juan Islands Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.
Cost is $400 per boat with four anglers per boat, and limited to 100 boats. First place is $10,000, second is worth $2,500 and third place will take home $1,500.
Last year, Bob Norling, Steve Grey and Mark Schinman landed 15.67 pound fish and earned $10,000; second was Kris Maudslin, Troy Unke and Mike Sorenson with a 14.68 pounder and a prize of $2,500; and third was Kevin and Duane Zender with a 14.46 pounder and $1,500.
Most total weight in a boat went to Troy Moe’s Team with 93.56 pounds, and took home $1,000. For details, go to http://www.resurrectionderby.com/index.html.
For more information on the Northwest Salmon Derby Series, go to http://www.northwestsalmonderbyseries.com/.