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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

November 6, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Tengu Derby anglers see better catch this past Sunday in Elliott Bay


The second week of the Tengu Blackmouth Derby, one of the most challenging and longest running salmon derbies, was held this past Sunday in Elliott Bay, and 26 anglers caught four blackmouth and four chum a much improvement from the Oct. 27 derby opener.

On that first derby date, 24 anglers managed to catch just two salmon.

A surprisingly gorgeous day and good action,” said Doug Handa, the Tengu Derby Club president. “The top two blackmouth came deep off the West Waterway with the other two coming from the Elliott Bay Marina. All of the chum were caught off the Red Roof area on Duwamish Head. Members reported marking bait, fish and losing good fish in all three of these locations.”

It looks like the Wong brothers were holding the upper hand in the derby so far this season as the winner this past Sunday was Benny Wong of Seattle with a 7 pound-11 ounce Chinook, which is now the largest fish on the season leader board.

His son Justin Wong of Seattle took second place with a 5-14 Chinook; third was John Mirante with a 4-10 Chinook; and fourth went to Tim Ratigan with a 4-6 Chinook.

Others hitting the mark on the fish catching board were Nelson Park with a 12-12 chum; Irene Kiga with 11-0 chum; and Gary Dodobara with a 6-12 and 6-8 chum.

During the first week of the derby Dennis Wong caught 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.




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