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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

December 7, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Tengu Derby anglers find tough fishing in Elliott Bay last Sunday

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(Justin Wong of Seattle holds a pair of nice blackmouth he caught in the Tengu Derby last year.)

The sixth 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 21 anglers braved the elements and only catching one blackmouth.

“It was tough fishing for derby members who ventured out in the wind storm on Sunday,” said Doug Hanada, the Tengu Derby Club president. “Only one nice blackmouth made the board and was caught off the West Waterway late in the morning. Members fishing from areas that were somewhat protected from the wind reported marking some scattered bait and fish.

Sunday derby results: 1, Gary Wong, 8 pound-1 ounce Chinook.

This winter derby is still being dubbed the Wong Family Derby as Justin Wong still holds onto the largest fish of the season with a 9 pound-7 ounce chinook caught on Nov. 24. So far this season, 14 chinook, four chum and one coho have been caught. The Wong family (Benny, Justin and Dennis) have tallied a whopping nine of the 14 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.

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