Tickets are now on sale for the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby that will be held on Feb. 20-22, a change from past seasons when it was held during Presidents Day Weekend.
The good news is salmon fishing finally came to life after a slow start this winter.
“Things are improving up from being totally dead in the eastern Strait with fish now being caught at Protection Island, Diamond Point and Cape George,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association. “The outer banks also have a few fish at Eastern Bank, but I haven’t heard much from from Coyote and Partridge banks. I know a person who had a pretty good day at Midchannel Bank (off Port Townsend) who reported the fish he caught had a whole bunch of candlefish in its stomach.”
The derby covers more than 500 square miles of salmon fishing grounds, five weigh stations and a $10,000 prize for the largest fish.
Tickets cost $40 with sales ending Feb. 18, and no tickets will be sold during the derby. The awards ceremony will be held Feb. 22 at the Gardiner boat launch at 3 p.m.
Last year’s derby was held during terrible weather with wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph, which greatly cut down on the catches. Anglers weighed-in 171 fish over six pounds, and the average weight was 8.6 pounds.
In 2013 a record catch of 249 were reeled-in by anglers, and the 2014 derby catch was about the same recorded in 2011 but less than the 217 in 2012.
First place went to Larry Quesnell of Mt. Vernon with a 15.4 pound hatchery chinook; second was Jay Campbell of Port Townsend with a 15.25; and third was Geoffrey Cobb of Port Angeles with a 14.25.
The derby is part of the Northwest Salmon Derby Series hosted by the Northwest Marine Trade Association. All derby ticket holders are entered in the NMTA’s end-of-year grand prize boat drawing. For derby details, go to www.GardinerSalmonDerby.org.