Outdoor Outlook: It’ll be hard to top last year’s derby winner

  • Wed Nov 2nd, 2011 8:22pm
  • Sports

By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald

The odds are pretty good that the $2,000 first-place salmon in this weekend’s Everett Bayside Marine Derby will not match last year’s 22-plus-pound hatchery chinook. That hog — taken off Camano Island’s Onomac Point by the famous Bill “Hot Plug” Hayes — was the largest in the derby’s history and absolutely obliterated the competition.

The winner of 2011’s two-day event is likely to weigh somewhere in the 15-pound range but, according to All Star Charters owner/skipper Gary Krein of Everett, could well come from the same general area.

“I’d bet money that the winning fish will be caught somewhere in Saratoga Passage, and very possibly along the stretch of Camano shoreline between the state park and Rocky Point,” Krein said.

Derby tickets are $30 — or $25 with the donation of five cans of food for the local food drive — and are on sale at Bayside Marine, Harbor Marine, and John’s Sporting Goods until 5 p.m. Friday. New this year is a team tournament, $50 per boat, winner take all, based on total fish weight for the two days. There is no limit on the number of anglers per boat. Sunday also features the popular salmon barbecue and chili cook-off.

This derby is the kickoff event for the 2011-2012 Northwest Salmon Derby Series, which at the end of next summer will award a substantial boat/motor/trailer package prize to some lucky series derby participant.

For more information, call 425-252-3088 or visit www.baysidemarine.com.

Krein said more blackmouth are caught between 80 and 100 feet or so in Saratoga Passage than the customarily deeper downrigger settings on Possession Bar. Spoons are popular, particularly the Kingfisher Lite in cookies ‘n cream, Irish cream, or white lightning. Krein is not a fan of UV colors in the winter fishery, he said, unless it’s a bright, sunny day.

Flasher and green squid is a combo always worth a try. Larger lures, such as plugs, are favorites with some derby anglers using the “big bait, big fish” philosophy and, hey, it worked last year for Bill Hayes.

I held down an empty seat in Tom Nelson’s boat Tuesday for the blackmouth opener in Mariner Areas 8-1, 8-2 and 9, as Nelson (radio host of The Outdoor Line Saturday mornings on 710 ESPN Seattle) and Anacortes fishing personality Jay Field scouted water and fishing possibilities for the derby.

“I plan to win the sucker this year,” Nelson said. A brash statement, perhaps, but then his boat took three places in the 2010 event — particularly impressive considering 276 anglers weighed just 33 chinook.

We dropped crab pots, then ran up to East Point and fished from there on north to Greenbank, hitting four shakers but nothing legal. We tried Elger Bay on the way back to little avail, and the edge of Mission Bar until floating weed drove us out. It was one of those gorgeous, sunny, late fall days that make winter blackmouth season so appealing, even though we fought the fog for a while in the morning. We ended with no fish in the box, but some really nice, firm crab helped ease the pain considerably.

Krein called the opener “decent,” with a couple of fish here and a couple there, lots of shakers, and no particular hot spots. About as good as any was the Hat Island/Camano Head area, which put out a mixed handful of chums, coho and blackmouth.

Nelson said the state creel checker at the Port of Everett ramp tallied three chinook for eight boats Tuesday, one from “the racetrack,” between Hat Island and Camano Head, and two from south Hat. Radio reports indicated an 11-pounder from Elger Bay and a couple of small keepers from Possession Bar.

Of considerable interest Tuesday were Nelson’s new prototype crab pots. Made by George Stearns, they are soon to be on the market. Stainless wire and nylon mesh, the traps are circular, light, easy to handle, and they catch crab. But the really impressive part is that they nest, one in the other, eliminating forever the persistent problem of bulky, space-gobbling, rigid pots filling a boat’s cockpit. We nested five traps and the whole works stored in the footprint of one, totaling only about a foot and a half in height. Nelson said he thought they would retail for about $90. Go to www.theoutdoorline.com to see the rigs at work.

No Puget Sound sturgeon?

A proposal by the state Fish and Wildlife Department, if adopted, would close sturgeon retention in Puget Sound and all its tributaries, supposedly to protect Columbia River fish “dropping in” to the Sound to feed. Catch-and-release fishing would still be allowed.

Another proposal would shorten the steelhead season, in some cases to mid-January, on the Snohomish, Stillaguamish, Skagit, Nooksack, Green and Puyallup river systems, along with several streams along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to “protect wild stocks.” The proposal also would close the upper section of the Samish on Dec. 1 and the lower section Jan. 1 to all species.

These two are probably the most controversial of a number of sportfishing rule change proposals included in the state Fish and Wildlife Department’s 2012-13 regulation package, but interested anglers can still provide written comment.

View the package at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/, or request a printed copy by calling the department’s Fish Program at 360-902-2700, Then submit written comments to rules coordinator Lori Preuss at Lori.Preuss@dfw.wa.gov, or 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, Wash., 98501. All written comments must be received by Dec. 30.

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