Well, every event has the occasional off day, and the annual Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby — a huge success the past two years — proved to be no exception.
“Fair to poor,” was Mark Spada’s reply when asked how he would rate fishing during the popular event held this past weekend. “The fish just weren’t on the bite — but then that’s kokanee fishing.”
Spada, a derby organizer and a member of the sponsoring Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club, ticked off a few numbers: 235 entrants weighed just 77 kokanee, compared to last year when, in Spada’s words, “everybody caught fish.” The first-place fish weighed 1.49 pounds, compared to last year’s 1.68-pound winner; the winning 10-fish limit weighed 10.15 pounds, compared to 2013’s limit of 12.54. Last year’s top five fish were all larger than this year’s winner.
“I heard people saying that maybe it was too warm and the sunny days before the derby, or that the alum treatment (for algae control) two days prior to the event, was to blame,” Spada said. “But for whatever reason, there was no pattern in where, when and on what the fish were caught, and for a school fish like kokanee, a pattern is critical.”
Spada said kokanee were taken all over the lake at depths between 10 and 60 feet, giving derby participants no particular areas to target.
“The experienced fishermen, the guys who really know what they’re doing, managed to catch fish,” Spada said, “but everyone else struggled.”
First place and a check for $1,000 went to Dan Koester; second and $500 to Dakota Kernaghan, at 1.29 pounds; and third, worth $250, to Ben Rosenbach, at 1.21 pounds. The heaviest 10-fish limit, worth $500, was caught by Dakota Kernaghan, and second, worth $250, by Sam Ingram at 9.45 pounds.
The kids’ division was won by a 1.31-pound kokanee, caught by Jacob Neatherlin. Second went to Paxton Knasiak, and third to Aubrey Lynch.
Saturday was a halibut day in Marine Areas 6 through 10, and state Fish and Wildlife Department creel checkers found the Port Angeles area the top spot, with 73 halibut and one ling tallied for 183 anglers at Ediz Hook. Fishermen launching at Cornet Bay and running out to the closer banks took 43 halibut and one ling for 174 rods. At Washington Park in Anacortes, it was 79 anglers with 12 halibut and 12 lings, and at the Port of Everett ramp, 94 anglers had five halibut and three lings.
Another halibut opening in areas 6-10 runs today through Sunday, then May 29-31, and a final day, June 7.
Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sports Center in Lynnwood said Mutiny Bay and Admiralty Bay, on the west side of Whidbey Island, are probably the closest spots to the Everett area where halibut fishermen stand a reasonable chance of hitting a fish, and he prefers Mutiny. Work the edges of holes and troughs in 120 to 240 feet of water, he said, either drifting or using the Alaska system of fishing off the anchor.
“Anchoring is becoming more popular all the time,” Chamberlain said. “Probably half of all our halibut fishermen use that system now.”
Those who anchor sometimes put out a scent bag on either their anchor line or a downrigger, hoping halibut follow the scent up to their baits. Chamberlain said he, personally, thinks the scent bag trick is often not worth the effort.
Use a spreader bar (if anchored, a three-way swivel works about as well) of either tuna cord or metal, and bait with blue, purple or black herring, squid, or salmon bellies. Be prepared to use 16 to 24 ounces of lead, he said, and a braided line such as Stealth or Power Pro. Tides involving a change of 7 or 8 feet are optimum, and Mutiny Bay fishes better on an outgoing tide.
When gearing up, Chamberlain said to err on the side of heavy.
“There are 80- to 100-pound fish taken every year in both bays,” he said, “although the average would be maybe 15 to 40 pounds.”
Other spots within a reasonable running range that put out a few halibut include Skunk Bay, Possession Bar and Pilot Point, Chamberlain said.
This year’s Sultan Sportsmen’s Club annual Kids’ Fishing Derby is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon on May 31 at the Ed Boucher ponds on East Wisteria Lane in Sultan, about two blocks north of the high school. The derby is free and open to youngsters ages 2-14, but participants must be accompanied by an adult.
Prizes will be awarded for largest fish (boys and girls separate prizes); most fish, boys and girls; and in two age divisions, 2-6 and 7-14. Power Bait has been the most productive setup, a club spokesman said.
For more information, call 360-793-7764.
Saturday’s kids’ fish-in at north Gissberg Pond produced excellent numbers of fat rainbows, plus mallards, plus an eagle/osprey/crow show for the youngsters, all to the great relief of members of the sponsoring Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club. Neither the kids nor the adults needed a repeat of the 2013 fishery, in which the bite shut down completely, much to everyone’s dismay.
And I would not be able to show my face in my own home if I didn’t note that 7-year-old Tanner Kruse brought four nice rainbows to the bank, one short of a limit.
Walleye on the menu
Back in the day, one of the mainline railroads connecting Puget Sound with the upper Midwest hailed walleye as a featured meal in its dining cars. Walleye, of course, made great table fare, particularly for folks who didn’t have easy access (at that time) to fresh halibut, ling or salmon, but I thought that whole line of advertising had been consigned to history.
Apparently not. Camera work at a Seattle Mariners game vs the Minnesota Twins a week ago showed a brief shot of a concession stand at Target Field in Minneapolis. The marquee above the concession touted “Hot Dogs … Corn Dogs .. .” and you guessed it … “Walleye.”
Anybody know how it’s served? Fish and chips? Fishwiches?
For more outdoors news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.