OUTDOORS: Derby anglers vying for $10K prize this weekend

Geoduck Restaurant & Lounge Seabeck angler Ash Claussen weighed in this 18.1 pound hatchery chinook to claim the $1,500 first prize in the 37th annual Murray (Geoduck) Salmon Derby last weekend on Hood Canal.

Geoduck Restaurant & Lounge Seabeck angler Ash Claussen weighed in this 18.1 pound hatchery chinook to claim the $1,500 first prize in the 37th annual Murray (Geoduck) Salmon Derby last weekend on Hood Canal.

ANGLERS FISHING IN the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby today through Sunday should expect all manner of conditions. Snow, rain, sunshine and cold temperatures all are in the mix through Sunday, so dress warmly, stock up on hand and feet warmers and enjoy the winter blackmouth fishing.

Anglers will target hatchery chinook across a broad stretch of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet and even a portion of Puget Sound. Derby boundaries range from Tongue Point in the west to the U.S./Canada border, a point west-by-northeast, of the north buoy at Hein Bank to Rocky Point on Whidbey Island and from Double Bluff on Whidbey all the way south to Tala Point near Port Ludlow.

Weigh stations are at five launch ramps: Freshwater Bay, Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, John Wayne Marina in Sequim, Gardiner Beach and Port Townsend Boat Haven.

They will be open to weigh in fish from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. today and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Organizers ask anglers to plan ahead and make sure to be in line at the docks/ramps to weigh fish by those times.

And remember the switch to daylight saving time before Sunday’s final round.

A barbecue begins at noon Sunday and the awards ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. at the Gardiner boat ramp.

Good luck to all the anglers competing for the $10,000 first prize.

For more information, visit gardinersalmonderby.org.

Murray Derby results

Seabeck angler Ash Claussen’s 18-pound, 1-ounce blackmouth claimed the top prize in the 37th annual Murray (Geoduck) Salmon Derby held last weekend on Hood Canal.

Claussen caught his fish Saturday and it ended up being the biggest fish by a little more than five pounds over the runner-up, a 12-pound, 15-ounce chinook caught by Jason Coverly and Ryan George’s third-place fish (10 pounds, 10 ounces).

“Over twice as many chinook were weighed in as last year and the average size of the salmon was up 30 percent over last year with the winner being over 18-pounds for the $1,500 prize,” said Quilcene’s Ward Norden, a former fisheries biologist and owner of Snapper Tackle Co.

“If the results of this small derby (about 250 tickets sold) are any indication, the Olympic Peninsula Derby will be really interesting as well. It is doubtful anything under 11 pounds will even get on the prize ladder.”

Norden believes the bigger blackmouth, which he predicted in an email last month, are a result ofthe nutrient-rich, deep-ocean current that feeds the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound.

“[It] was the most active I have observed in over 35 years,” Norden said.

“That current feeds the whole food chain in our inland waters, resulting in fat, happy blackmouth salmon.”

Norden said he’s observed what he described as the unusual upwelling continuing off the Washington, Oregon and British Columbia coasts for almost seven weeks, with only a minor break of a couple days a week ago.

“This powerful, nutrient-rich upwelling is nothing but good news for all the salmon and bottom fish along our coast,” Norden said.

North of Falcon meeting

Representatives from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife will discuss North of Falcon, the annual salmon fishing season setting process, at a Thursday, March 21 meeting of the North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.

The event will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave. in Sequim, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

State fisheries biologists will be on hand to answer questions.

The fishing public is highly encouraged to come and let your voice be heard.

Park elk poached

A cow elk was poached last month on Upper Hoh Road in Olympic National Park, according to a press release provided by the park.

On the morning of Feb. 15, a visitor reported a dead cow elk on Upper Hoh Road in Olympic National Park. National Park Rangers, with the assistance of officers with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, investigated and discovered the cow elk had been killed sometime between Feb. 14 and the early morning hours of Feb. 15.

The carcass was within yards of the roadway and no attempt was made to harvest the meat.

Anyone with knowledge of this crime is urged to contact the Investigative Services Branch of the National Park Service.

Tips are welcomed via calling or texting the ISB tip line at 888-653-0009, submitting a tip online at www.nps.gov/ISB or emailing [email protected] Reference case #NP19015260.

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