LAPUSH — Pre-paid participants in the canceled two-day Last Chance Salmon Derby in LaPush will get their entry money back, and organizers said they are considering shifting the annual derby to an earlier weekend.
“Everyone who had pre-paid has already been contacted,” said Lissy Andros, executive director of the Forks Chamber of Commerce, a cosponsor of the salmon derby with the Quileute tribe and the city of Forks.
This year’s event will not be rescheduled, Andros said.
Fifteen pre-paid derby tickets were sold this year, Andros said, adding that refunds will be processed beginning today.
The weekend’s Last Chance Salmon Derby was canceled before it started on Saturday because of a prediction of big swells at the entrance to the river mouth.
“We were correct to do that. The Coast Guard issued 22-foot restrictions” on boats, Andros said.
Many salmon derby fishermen operate boats smaller than 22 feet in length, she said, and they would have been unable to take part while those with larger boats were out fishing.
“We wanted it to be fair,” she said.
If swells are expected to be more than 6 feet, then the Coast Guard applies boat restrictions, according to Russell Brooks, events coordinator for the Quileute tribe.
On Saturday, the swells reached 7 feet.
“Everybody’s really disappointed,” Brooks said Friday.
“A lot of people worked hard to do it this year. . . We have people who come from as far away as Seattle and the [Puget] Sound for the event.
About 100 people generally participate in the derby.
The derby has been held for 18 years, Brooks said.
Derby organizers are considering moving the derby to the last weekend in September to take advantage of historically better conditions.
No decision has yet been made about the 2015 derby, Andros said.
In 2003, the derby was shortened to only one day because of similar weather conditions.
In typical years, between 20 and 25 pre-paid salmon derby tickets are sold, with the bulk of tickets sold to fishermen as they arrive in LaPush, Andros said.
The low number of pre-paid tickets sold this year is probably an indication that fishermen were paying attention to the forecast, she said, and knew ahead of time that the derby was likely to be cancelled because of sea conditions.
“Everybody knows when it’s bad, it’s really bad out there,” she said.
Andros said the cancellation was unfortunate because fishing had been reported to be good this year.
“I think if they could have gone out, there would have been a lot of happy people,” she said.
________Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at [email protected]