Participation was about the same as last year -- about 200 adults and 60 kids -- but they caught perhaps 30 percent fewer kokanee than a year ago, according to Greg Rockenbach of Greg's Custom Rods in Lake Stevens.
"We were probably down 100 fish or so this time," Rockenbach said, "with 10 bag limits of 10 fish weighed in, compared to 14 bag limits last year. On the other hand, the winning fish were a little larger.
"And," he said, getting in a good-natured dig, "the three smallest kokanee on the ladder were all caught by guides."
The top prize, $1,000 for the largest kokanee, went to Ryan Hansen for a fish of 1.43 pounds (15-16 inches), along with an additional $100 for the largest kokanee caught by a gamefishin.com member. Second biggest kokanee and $500 went to Mike Christianson at 1.33 pounds; third and $250 to Frank Linskey at 1.31 pounds; and fourth and $100 to Cris Miles at 1.30 pounds. Miles also nailed the $500 prize for largest trout (a rainbow of 1.62 pounds) and the second-place prize of $250 for a 10-fish kokanee bag limit.
Biggest kokanee bag limit, 10.51 pounds for 10 fish, won $500 for Bruce McCall. Largest kokanee caught by a wounded warrior was 1.03 pounds and was worth $100 to Julie North.
Young people 14 and under fished free, and in that division first place for largest kokanee and $100 went to Bernadette Miles for a 1.33-pound fish. Second place (any species) and $75 went to Mackenzie Ramsey for a 4.55-pound smallmouth bass; and third place (any species) and $50 to Alex Rodorigo with a 3.30-pound smallmouth.
Derby coordinator Mark Spada said kokanee were well scattered over the lake, but generally at a depth of 20 to 30 feet.
North Gissberg kids' fishing day
Fine weather also benefitted the kids' fish-in Saturday at North Gissberg Pond (Twin Lakes) near Smokey Point, sponsored by the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club, helping pull a good crowd of 400 to 500 families to the annual event. Club spokesman Jim Brauch said the event drew a larger crowd than last year, and that most caught fish or two, particularly early in the day.
"As it warmed up, the trout seemed to move farther away from shore and deeper," Brauch said, "and those who kept fishing close in and shallow weren't doing as well."
He said that while young people caught a handful of nice rainbow to about 6 pounds, not as many of the really big fish were taken, compared to last year. "They left some 8- and 9-pounders out there," he said.
Skagit sockeye / chinook seminar
Holiday Sports in Burlington hosts a high-interest seminar Wednesday, May 30, on two upcoming Skagit River season openers. The first season starts June 1, for hatchery chinook from Rockport up to Marblemount, including the lower end of the Cascade. The second opens June 16, a first ever season for Baker Lake sockeye on the lower Skagit, from the Highway 536 (Memorial Highway) bridge in downtown Mount Vernon up to Gilligan Creek, above Sedro-Woolley.
Featured speakers will be Cal Stocking of Cause For Divorce Guide Service, and Nick Petosa of Petosa's Guide Service, covering boat and bank fishing techniques for both species.
Interest in the sockeye fishery, particularly, is huge, and spots at this limited-seating venue will go quickly. Call to reserve your seat (360-757-4361).
Time is running short to get a ticket for this weekend's Port Angeles Halibut Derby, which, judging by early results in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, should be a top event. Ted's Sport Center in Lynnwood still has tickets; call 425-743-9505. You also can go online for tickets and/or information at www.swainsinc.com, or call 360-452-2357. In a pinch, tickets will be available Friday at the Port Angeles Yacht Club derby headquarters.
Norm Metzler, coordinator of the $20,000 event, said fishing so far, since the May 3 opener, has been pretty good. More big fish than usual, he said, with the monthly club derby ladder led currently by halibut of 168, 120 and 80-plus pounds. The big one was caught "up toward Freshwater Bay," Metzler said. The bay has been productive, as has Whiskey Creek and "the rockpile."
Some will say that a review of a novel, a thriller, a murder mystery, has no place in a fishing/hunting column. That only books with titles such as "Bugling Elk in Your Back Yard," or "Tournament Carp Shooting," should be found there, and only then on a slow news day.
I say talk like that is abysmally narrow and should not be tolerated.
In evidence, I offer "The Royal Wulff Murders," by Keith McCafferty, survival editor of Field & Stream magazine. McCafferty lives and works in Montana, and has tried his hand at a novel set in the Madison River valley. The royal Wulff, of course, is a classic trout fly, and southwest Montana encompasses the bluest of the country's blue ribbon trout streams.
McCafferty deals shootings, drownings, salty characters, a little romance, a little political intrigue concerning whirling trout disease, and a whole lot of fly fishing for big brown, cutthroat and rainbow trout. Great literature it ain't, but a light, entertaining read for the piscatorially-oriented it most certainly is.
Icicle River opens for kings
State Fish and Wildlife Department biologists have predicted a return of about 7,000 spring chinook to the Leavenworth hatchery on the Icicle and have opened the recreational fishery with a two-chinook limit. The Icicle is open from the closure signs located 800 feet upstream of its confluence with the Wenatchee, up to the deadline 500 feet below the hatchery barrier dam.
A $10,000 reward is being offered for grizzly bear shootings in northern Idaho, being investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wldlife Service and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. A female adult grizzly and her cub were discovered shot to death May 18 in Boundary County, on Hall Mountain, east of the Kootenai River Valley and northwest of U.S. Highway 95.
Grizzlies are a threatened species in the lower 48 states and protected by the Endangered Species Act. Killing one carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
A black bear season is currently open in Idaho, but grizzlies are off limits, as are black bears with cubs. A bear identification program was posted last year and is available on the IDFG Web page.
Good fisheries for both halibut and lingcod are underway in many parts of Western Washington, as state creel checks show. State personnel tallied 172 anglers Saturday at the Cornet Bay public ramp near Deception Pass with 22 lings, 16 greenling, and 8 halibut. Also on Saturday, at the Washington Park ramp west of Anacortes, it was 53 fishermen with 10 lings, 2 greenling, and 4 cabezon.
Locally, 111 anglers contacted at the Port of Everett ramp on Saturday had 6 halibut, 10 lings, and 1 cabezon, and on Sunday, 57 fishermen with 11 lings. That's pretty good lingcod action, considering how little bottom structure we have in local waters.
Out on the Strait, some 196 halibut fishermen were checked Friday at the Ediz Hook public ramp with 32 fish, and on Saturday, 223 had 40 fish.
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