Early birds expected to fare well in Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby

  • By Wayne Kruse Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, May 14, 2014 8:43pm
  • Sports

Dawn’s early light will smile on probably 275 anglers Saturday because word has circulated that the early kokanee bite at Lake Stevens is the time to get after ‘em.

“The morning action has been by far the best for the last couple of weeks,” said Greg Rockenbach of Greg’s Custom Rods in Lake Stevens. “After that, you’re scratching.”

Which means a 3 or 4 a.m. crush at the two main launch ramps for participants in the annual Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby, sponsored by the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club and the Lake Stevens Lions. The most popular launch is the state Fish and Wildlife Department access on the Lake Stevens waterfront, where club volunteers will help with parking and launch activities. At Wyatt Park on the west side of the lake, organizers of the derby have been in discussions with the county to open at 3 a.m.

“That’s what we’re shooting for,” Rockenbach said. “Last year, they left it open all night prior to the derby.”

He said ticket sales have been brisk and that a crowd about the same size as last year’s is expected. Tickets, at $20 for adults and free for youngsters 14 and under, are still for sale at Greg’s Custom Rods; John’s Sporting Goods in Everett; Ted’s Sport Center in Lynnwood; Triangle Bait &Tackle, and McDaniel’s Do It Center in Snohomish; and Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville.

The top prize, for the largest kokanee, is $1,000, but there is a long list of other cash and merchandise prizes, and a separate prize list for kids.

Fish are scattered, Rockenbach said, and holding down to about 20 feet. Derby organizers are hoping for cloudy conditions Saturday to stretch out the bite. “Once the sun is on the water, fishing gets difficult,” Rockenbach said.

A productive setup would include a Wedding Ring spinner in red or green, behind a 4-inch Dick Nite dodger in pink splatter or “Wonderbread.” Dress the spinner with a kernel of shoepeg corn scented with tuna or garlic.

And beware — last year’s champ will be on the water, a year older and, probably, a year better. Bronson Rowe of Lake Stevens, who nailed a kokanee of 1.68 pounds to walk away with the top money, is now 16, has purchased his ticket, and is ready to rumble.

For more information, call Rockenbach at 425-335-1391.


Barring a last-minute change, recreational shrimp fishers in Marine Areas 8-1 and 8-2 will get one more day to soak a pot in local waters. Shellfish managers have agreed that there is enough quota left in Possession Sound, Port Gardner, Port Susan, and Saratoga Passage to warrant the additional fishery. All that was left at the time this was written was to finish the paperwork, said Mark O’Toole of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The additional opening will be Wednesday, May 21, O’Toole said.

The primary reason there was quota remaining, he said, was probably because of lousy weather on the May 3 in-Sound shrimp opener. The catch in this area that day was 11 pounds per boat, for the 524 boats estimated to be fishing 8-1 and 8-2. On May 7, the second day of the season and with better weather and tides, the catch went up to 15.3 pounds per boat.

Marine Area 9 (Edmonds/Possession) put out 17.3 pounds per boat for 164 boats on May 3, and 16.9 pounds per boat on May 7. Hood Canal produced 17.6 pounds for 1,552 boats on May 3, and 16.2 pounds on the May 7. Shrimpers on Discovery Bay took 9 pounds per boat for 46 boats on May 3, and 7.4 pounds on May 7.

Marine Areas 9 and 10 are through for the season, O’Toole said.


The in-Sound halibut season opened over the weekend to semi-rough water conditions, but anglers did relatively well in spite of the weather, according to Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sport Center (425-743-9505) in Lynnwood.

“Customers showed us a bunch of fish,” Chamberlain said, “and it looked to us like a fairly average opener. Those with larger boats did better. The small boaters got beat up pretty badly under those sloppy conditions.”

Chamberlain said most of the fish he saw came from the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

“Guys did pretty well on most of the usual spots: Partridge, Eastern and Dallas banks, and off Dungeness Spit,” he said.

The Alaskan technique of anchoring and putting out scent is catching on around here big time, Chamberlain said, noting that most of the fish he saw were taken with that technique. Setups included the usual spreader bars and bait — squid, octopus, large herring.

“Halibut will eat most anything,” Chamberlain said. “One customer cleaned his fish and found a whole, good-sized Dungeness crab; others reported their fish, from the banks, being full of shrimp.”

Kevin John, at Holiday Sports in Burlington, said the opener up his way also was rough and the boats were scattered. Things calmed down in the afternoon, he said, and fishermen were able to reach MacArthur and Hein banks, where they found fish.

John also heard reports of a 100-pounder taken off Bush Point.

“There’s a bit of a bar there, and conditions are sometimes a little better than they are at the areas farther out,” he said.

Herring and sardines are popular baits with his customers, as are rubber scampi on a jig head, with a strip of squid added to sweeten the rig.

Honor heroes

Cabela stores nationwide will honor those who serve our country by offering employee pricing to all veterans, active duty and reserves, law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS personnel May 15-18. To participate, they are asked to present their service ID at checkout, and they will receive Cabela’s employee discount on virtually everything in the store.

The Tulalip Cabela’s will feature displays and events honoring heroes, including a benefit BBQ to support the local Salmon for Soldiers fishing event; a submarine display with the Submarine Veterans; flag raising and flag retirement ceremonies with the Boy Scouts of America and more. Bring your worn flags in, and the Boy Scouts will retire them properly.

For more outdoors news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.

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