THE MATT SCHUBERT OUTDOORS COLUMN: Salmon derbies provide capper

THE FINAL FAREWELL to the summer saltwater salmon season comes with a pair of parties this weekend.

In LaPush, of course, is the Last Chance Salmon Derby, set for Saturday and Sunday in Marine Area 3’s late-season bubble fishery.

And in Sekiu, there’s the Sekiu/Clallam Bay Lions Club derby on Saturday.

Given the off-and-on nature of reports coming out of both fisheries this week, it’s anyone’s guess what anglers can expect in either one.

Randy Lato of All-Ways Fishing (360-374-2052) in LaPush said he’s seen a little bit of everything since the late season fishery re-opened last Saturday.

“It started out really nice,” he said. “We were out by the Rock Pile catching a lot of fish, releasing a lot of native silvers. We went back out on Tuesday, and it was dead, absolutely dead.”

The weather, which has plagued the Last Chance Derby in recent years, looks to be pretty decent, with only a little wind predicted.

Derby tickets cost $30, with $4,300 in prizes up for grabs. The largest coho and chinook will earn $1,000 each. Second place in each category receives $500, third $250, and for fourth, fifth and sixth $100.

The payout on the Sekiu/Clallam Bay Lions Club coho derby will depend on the number of anglers that purchase $10 tickets.

The top coho will take home 40 percent of ticket sales, second 20 percent, third 10 percent and fourth 5 percent. A $100 prize goes to the largest sea bass.

Whatever the winning fish is, it’s likely to be big, according to Dan Spomer of Olson’s Resort (360-963-2311) in Sekiu.

“There are some massive fish being brought in, big fish,” Spomer said, “but there are just not a lot of them. The pressure is light, but it’s still spotty.”

Added Brett Lowe of Westside Guide Service (360-477-2492), “I [fished] Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, I got one or two a day. I think the average is one or two fish for every three boats.”

Things haven’t been much better near Port Angeles.

Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said anglers are having to put in their time in Marine Area 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) to catch a coho.

“Fishing has been pretty slow,” he said. “They are getting an occasional fish here and there. The fish have been running really deep, 120 to 170 [feet].

“I thought they might come up a little higher with the rain, but nobody has brought anything in since Tuesday [for the Port Angeles Salmon Club’s monthly derby].”

Things are also slow out east, according to Wayne Bibbins of Down Home Charters (360-643-1960) in Port Townsend.

That’s despite the fact Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) is a coho keeper fishery, wild and clipped.

“[The coho] just don’t seem like they are coming in very big numbers,” he said. “Right now we’re dealing with whether or not it’s going to be a poor run or a late run.”

There’s still a few chinook to be had down near the Hoodsport Hatchery, which saw an additional 259 adults show up last week.

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