LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Salmon derby weekend is here

By Lee Horton

Peninsula Daily News

THE OLYMPIC PENINSULA Salmon Derby is only a few days away.

Blackmouth fishing has continued to be solid lately for those who are going out.

If the weather cooperates, though, there will be no shortage of anglers on the Strait of Juan de Fuca this weekend.

“Everyone’s building up for the derby this weekend,” Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.

I’ve heard similar statements from people for the last few weeks.

It seems most anglers are waiting for the derby before getting serious about blackmouth fishing.

My guess is they have a few reasons for holding off until the derby.

First, the weather hasn’t been the most pleasant.

Second, nothing kick-starts the fishing desire like a $10,000 first prize, $2,000 second prize and $1,000 third prize.

Even if you don’t take home one of those awards, the derby has a prize list of 44 items worth a total of $21,895 (as of Wednesday), including four mystery fish prizes worth $500 each.

The event, which runs from Saturday to Monday, features 500 square miles of fishing area and five launch ramps and weigh stations (Freshwater Bay, Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, John Wayne Marina in Sequim, Gardiner and Port Townsend Boat Haven). Fees at all of the ramps will be waived for derby participants.

Oh, and there also will be free barbecue meals on Saturday and Monday.

Online ticket sales are no longer available, but you can purchase derby tickets through Friday at area retailers such as Swain’s General Store in Port Angeles; Brian’s Sporting Goods and More in Sequim; Four Corners Store, Fish N Hole and Westside Marine in Port Townsend; Olympic Equipment Rental (formerly Just Ask Rentals) in Port Hadlock; and Longhouse Market and Deli in Blyn.

Tickets cost $40, whether you fish for one day or three days.

They can also be purchased at all five launch ramps, but only on Saturday.

Last year, the derby sold about 700 tickets. Dan Tatum, president of the derby’s organizer, the Gardiner Salmon Derby Association, told me a few weeks ago that he would “give anything to sell 800,” this time around.

For more on the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby, including the prize lists and map, visit www.gardinersalmonderby.org.

Sekiu is back

Now, some of you read about the huge salmon derby and groan because it means the pressure will be high.

That’s understandable. You want a nice, relaxing weekend of fishing without worrying about whether or not you reel in the biggest blackmouth.

Well, the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca will be out of the question for your kind.

But, yet another area is opening to salmon fishing: Sekiu (Marine Area 5).

Remember good old reliable Sekiu?

When the North Olympic Peninsula went dry from about the end of July to the middle of October and ruined river fishing and hunting, Sekiu had coho practically jumping into boats.

I don’t know how Sekiu will do, and I called some of the resorts there and it appears they still aren’t open for the season, but I have fond memories of the good news it produced when nothing else was producing last year.

Best of all, for you crowd-avoiders, there shouldn’t be many people fishing the area.

“I don’t know how much pressure [Sekiu is] going to get, especially with the derby,” Menkal said.

“But people who don’t want to deal with derby crowds might drive out if weather is going to be decent.”

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Outdoors columnist Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 13. 2013 6:07PM
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