By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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Not the Super Bowl. The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby.
The annual derby, one of the biggest fishing events on the North Olympic Peninsula and one of the few things that makes February tolerable for anglers, will take place Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17.
With a little more than three weeks remaining, the derby’s prize list has ballooned to 25 prizes (21 ladder and four bonus prizes) that total a value of $18,725.
Last year’s derby doled out 45 prizes worth $21,995. Prizes continued to be added through the week of the derby. If that is the case again this year, it seems likely that the 2014 derby will surpass the cash value of 2013.
Somebody is going home a (relatively) rich man or woman, as the grand prize is $10,000.
Second prize is $2,000 and third place takes home $1,000.
There also are four mystery fish prizes, for which any fish over six pounds is eligible to win.
See the complete, up-to-date prize list online at www.tinyurl.com/pdnOPDerbyPrizes.
To give you an idea of what you’re up against, last year’s winning fish, caught by Jerry Thomas of Mount Vernon, weighed 15.9 pounds.
The smallest prize-winner was 10.1 pounds, and the average prize-winning weight was 11.66 pounds.
There are two key rule changes this year.
The first is that a blackmouth must weigh more than 6 pounds to be eligible for the mystery fish prizes.
Because $500 dollars can do many things, including buying nearly 100 foot-long subs at Subway, many derby participants were submitting any fish they caught, even the little ones that they wouldn’t normally keep.
This new rule lets the blackmouth live and grow before being plucked from the water.
The other rule change is the one-fish restriction has been lifted.
“In earlier years, we only allowed one fish per person on the ladder,” Dan Tatum, president of the derby’s host the Gardiner Salmon Derby Association, said in a news release.
“We’ve removed that restriction — if you catch two prize winners, you win two prizes.”
Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby spans the North Olympic Peninsula, which is 500 miles of fishing area, with weigh stations at five launch ramps: Freshwater Bay, Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, John Wayne Marina in Sequim, Gardiner and Port Townsend Boat Haven.
As with last year, all five ramps have agreed to waive launch fees for derby participants, according to an update on the Gardiner Salmon Derby Association’s website.
Tickets for the derby cost $40 for one day or all three days (or $42.50 online).
Tickets are available at outdoors retailers throughout the area and can also be purchased online at www.GardinerSalmonDerby.org and picked up at a launch ramp the day of the derby.
Tickets also will be available at the five launch ramps, but only on Saturday, Feb. 15.
The Wapiti Bowmen Archery Club will host its annual Blue Face Indoor Tournament at its clubhouse at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4.
The tournament will continue on Tuesdays and Fridays for six weeks.
All ages and all levels of skill are welcome to participate.
Those new to archery are also invited to attend and take part.
For more information, visit the club’s website at www.wapitibowmen.us, or phone Mark Jackson at 360-683-7787.
The Wapiti Bowman clubhouse is located at 374 E. Arnette Road in Port Angeles.
Sports Editor Lee Horton’s outdoors column appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.