The magnificent September coho run in local waters started to fade last week, and declining catch rates Wednesday, Thursday and Friday threatened to torpedo the high hopes which had built for the big weekend Everett Coho Derby.
And sure enough, when Saturday’s weigh-in ended, the verdict was pretty much ho-hum. Fishing had been okay, but nothing special, for fish of average size or even slightly smaller. So much for predictions of the best Everett derby ever.
But everything changed Sunday.
A new batch of fresh silvers came steaming out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and across Possession Bar, slamming up against the Mukilteo/shipwreck/Edmonds shoreline, eager to pillage and plunder. Derby anglers on the water Sunday at daybreak found limits of big, aggressive silvers throughout the area, ready to dance. Coho came in to the derby weighmaster in a silver cascade, and when it was all over, it had, indeed, been a derby to remember.
More than 1,500 fish were weighed in, compared to 673 in last year’s derby, and the winning weight of 17.08 pounds easily outdistanced the 16.55-pounder which took home top cash in 2011 and the 15.68-pounder which won in 2010.
More than 900 coho were weighed in on Sunday alone, according to Jim Brauch with the co-sponsoring Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club, and the on-site computer couldn’t keep up with the avalanche of coho.
Brauch said 167 fish weighed 10 pounds or larger, compared to 109 last year, and most of those were entered on Sunday. Some 55 coho each weighed more than 12 pounds, an outstanding statistic.
The sponsoring clubs — the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club is the other — sold 1,831 adult tickets, compared to 1,700 last year, and gave away 200 youth tickets for a total of over 2,000 entrants on the water.
The kids weighed 82 coho, topped at 11.95 pounds on a fish caught by Noble Hargitt of Tulalip. The largest river entry, from the Snohomish, was taken on a Dick Nite spoon by Ha Phanhthaviln of carnation, and weighed 14.47 pounds.
Brauch said there weren’t a lot of river fish weighed. Most were Snohomish coho, and most from below Highway 9. A couple came from the Stilly and a few from the Skagit. Plugs and Dick Nite spoons accounted for most of the river fish, Brauch said.
Harvey Aney of Everett took the $3,000 first-place fish from off the shipwreck, down 120 feet. Second and $2,000 went to Anthony Harrington of Granite Falls, at 16.08 pounds, fishing a Silver Horde spoon at 70 feet, early, near Possession Bar. The third-place fish, at 15.83 pounds, was caught by Sean Moskowitz of Seattle, also working a spoon near the bar. Fourth went to 13-year old Chance Cochrell of Snohomish, trolling a Deep Six diver and a flasher/squid combo at 40 pulls for a 15.37-pound coho south of Mukilteo. The young angler won $1,000. Fifth place went to Leif Moen of Lynnwood with a 14.88-pounder, caught south of Possession on an Ace Hi fly. The final money fish was boated by Don Potts of Kent, weighed 14.80 pounds and was caught on a flasher/squid off the shipwreck.
The mystery coho name drawn was Forrest Olson, but his last two numbers did not match the mystery prize numbers, so he didn’t win the $35,000 Dodge truck. He did pick up a $250 gift certificate from Cabela’s as a consolation prize, however.
Peter Hrebenink won the 16-foot boat/motor/trailer package offered by the derby sponsors in a must-be-present-to-win raffle. His was the third name drawn.
The biggest prize event, of course, was the awarding of the $60,000 boat/motor/trailer package offered by the Northwest Marine Trade Association in a drawing from a barrel full of ticket stubs of 14 separate derbies around the state over the past calendar year. The winner was Lon Hayne of Bellevue, whose winning ticket had been purchased for the Edmonds Coho Derby, one of the participating events.
There was apparently some feeling that Hayne — who was not present at the drawing but whose ticket carried contact information — should not have won. Tony Floor of the NMTA said that in the nine years the organization has done this, there has never been a problem contacting the angler with the winning ticket stub and there has never been a requirement that the winner be present at the prize drawing.
“We ask for name, address and phone number, along with the derby for which the ticket was purchased,” Floor said. “We sometimes don’t get all that information, but we’ve always been able to contact the winner. If a drawn ticket didn’t carry contact information, we would disqualify that person and draw another.”
Floor said there was perhaps confusion over different rules for the two boat package drawings.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife creel samplers at the Mukilteo ramp on Sunday checked 136 anglers with 153 coho, an outstanding catch rate for this area. And there are more on the way, if checks at Olson’s Resort in Sekiu on Sunday are any indication. A crowd of 437 anglers there had 688 coho.
One other check of interest: at the Deception Pass beaches on Sunday, 30 shore fishermen were contacted with 4 coho.
You’re running very short of time to get your summer crab catch report to the state, or be assessed a $10 fine added to your next year’s card. October 1 is the deadline and you can mail the card to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia , WA 98501, or report online at wdfw.wa.gov. Winter cards are available at all state license vendors.
For more outdoors news, visit Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.