The 69th Tengu Blackmouth Derby, one of the most challenging and longest running salmon derbies, Began this past Sunday in Elliott Bay, and 24 anglers managed to catch just two salmon.
“The winning fish came off Duwamish Head late in the morning with the coho coming from Fourmile Rock,” said Doug Handa, the Tengu Derby Club president. “Members ran all over Elliott Bay looking for herring as well as salmon, but found little of either except for small shakers.”
The winner was Dennis Wong with a 5 pound, 1 ounce chinook, and second place went to Marcus Nitta with a 4 pound, 8 ounce coho.
Last year, the 10-week derby produced 23 legal-size (more than 22 inches long) hatchery-marked Chinook for 46 anglers. The best fishing came in the second half of the season with 27 anglers Dec. 9 catching three, including the derby winner; 29 on Dec. 16 had four; 30 on Dec. 23 had five; and 28 on Dec. 30 had three.
In good years, it is not uncommon to have 50 to 100 fish weighed in for the season, but catches have dropped off since 2009. The record-low catch total since the derby began in 1946 was four fish in 2010, and the record catch was 234 in 1979.
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.