The fifth 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 33 anglers caught five blackmouth which is an improvement from the week before.
“Some had good success as five blackmouth made the board on Sunday,” said Doug Hanada, the Tengu Derby Club president. “The Wong boat actually caught two limits but had to release one native blackmouth. Duwamish Head yielded the winning blackmouth plus three others. There was no information where the other two fish were caught. Members reported marking some bait and fish all over the Bay but that resulted in very little action.”
Sunday derby results: 1, Justin Wong, 9 pound-7 ounce Chinook; 2, Benny Wong, 5-15; 3, Dave McKee, 5-6; 4, Benny Wong, 4-9; 5, Tim Ratigan, 4-4.
This winter derby could very well be dubbed the Wong Family Derby as Justin Wong has the largest fish of the season with a 9 pound-7 ounce chinook caught on Nov. 24, which overtook his father Benny Wong’s 7-11 catch on Nov. 3. So far this season, 13 chinook, four chum and one coho have been caught. The Wong family (Benny, Justin and Dennis) have tallied a whopping eight of the 13 blackmouth caught for the season.
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.