By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
Snotty weather forecasts scared a lot of participants in last weekend’s big Everett Coho Derby off the saltwater and onto local rivers, resulting in a list of freshwater money winners almost unheard of in derby history. According to event spokesman Jim Brauch, five of the top 10 silvers came from the Snohomish River system, predominantly caught with Dick Nite spoons. In previous derbies, only one or two of the cash fish would have been from freshwater.
The derby drew a total of 1,854 adult participants, just about the same as last year’s event, but weighed fewer fish — 766 compared to 1,259 in 2012 — probably because of difficult weather conditions.
The top prize this year was boosted significantly, to $10,000 from the $3,000 of previous years, and was won by Don Pittwood with a fish at 15.5 pounds. The 2011 winner weighed 16.55 pounds, caught by Mike Fure of Stanwood, and the 2012 champ weighed 17.08 pounds for Harvey Aney of Everett. Pittwood’s winning coho was caught at “the horseshoe,” a semi-circular dropoff on the east edge of Possession Bar, not far south of the green can.
Second place and $5,000 went to Hut Phanhthaavilay, who fished a Dick Nite spoon near the Highway 522 bridge on the Snohomish River to nail a 14.2-pounder. Third and $2,500 went to Dylan Alexander for a coho of 14.19 pounds, also caught on a Dick Nite, on the lower Skykomish. The fourth-place fish, worth $1,000, was caught by Gary Tisdale Sr., who fished Possession Bar with Silver Horde gear.
The top merchandise prizes, Cannon downriggers, went to Curt Wikel with a fish at 13.91 pounds, caught on a Wiggle Wart in the Snohomish River; George Wyse with a fish at 13.76 pounds, fishing eggs on the Skykomish; and Marcus Requa using a Dick Nite on the lower Skykomish.
Brauch said there were 216 youth tickets given free, and all went home with prizes. The first-place youth division fish was particularly interesting, however, in where it was caught. The $100 prize went to Dean Fagan for a coho of 11.13 pounds, caught at Haller Park on the upper mainstem of the Stillaguamish River. The Stilly seldom finds itself on the big-silver lists.
Second and third places in the youth division — 9.98 and 9.90 pounds respectively — both came from Possession Bar on Silver Horde squid.
The Sportsman’s Channel sponsored a “Hunt, Fish, Feed” outreach program for the Volunteers of America food bank. Over 600 pounds of salmon fillets were donated by derby participants and given to the VOA to feed the needy.
Other prizes included $250 to Tom Gay for the largest fish by an active military member; $250 to Cheri Peterson for largest fish by a female angler; and $250 to Ray Stephanson Sr., for the oldest angler in the derby — he’s 90.
The final prize was awarded by drawing — an all-expense trip to Sitka, Alaska, won by Ron Kuhlman of Marysville. The package, paid for by Cabela’s, includes four nights lodging and three days fishing at Kingfisher Lodge.
Missed the cash
On Monday, the day after the derby, Mike Woeck and Glenn Nekota fished outer Possession Bar. Woeck boated a nice 10-pound coho and the pair were preparing to wrap it up for the day when Nekota’s rod went off. Turned out to be a dandy hooknose of 17 pounds which would have won a total of $16,000 for Nekota in the past three Everett derbies.
Just thought I’d mention that, Glenn.
New Snohomish launch
“Needless to say, this is way overdue and can’t come soon enough for us river rats,” longtime Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club officer Mark Spada said. “I’ve personally been working on this project for over 20 years, and the club’s involvement goes back farther than that. Sometimes this type project moves at a snail’s pace.”
Spada was speaking of the announcement a couple of weeks ago concerning approval of funding to purchase land along the Snohomish River for construction of a new boat launch. Money was approved two years ago for construction, so the project would appear now to be on the fast track, Spada said.
The old launch in downtown Snohomish, the only concrete ramp accessing the upper river, has been in sad shape for years — narrow, steep, cracked and broken.
The new site covers 20 acres upriver from the old ramp, between the two railroad trestles and across the road from the soccer fields at the edge of the city of Snohomish.
“It’s an ideal location; the best we could possibly have come up with,” Spada said. “Lots of room for parking, close to town, useable at any tide stage.”
Whether the new facility will be single or double lane hasn’t been decided yet, he said, but his guess would be two lanes. He added that everything is in place now to predict it could be ready to use within a year or so.
The group which successfully pushed the project to this point has included private citizens, the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club, writers of a county Conservation Futures grant, Snohomish Parks, the City of Snohomish, and sportsman activists, among others.
Effort and catch rate picked up on the Yakima River over the weekend, according to state biologist Paul Hoffarth in Pasco. Some 134 anglers were checked with 29 adult kings and seven jacks, and Hoffarth said salmon fishermen averaged one chinook for every eight hours fished.
On the Hanford Reach portion of the Columbia, effort and catch also increased, nearly doubling from the previous week. Hoffarth said creel checks contacted 404 boats with 381 adult chinook and 65 jacks for an average of about a chinook per boat.
With a record number of fall chinook now entering the fishery, action on the Reach should improve dramatically over the next two or three weeks.
State creel checkers estimated 2,051 anglers fished out of Westport last week, landing 341 chinook and 2,184 coho, the best fishing reported out of the four coastal areas.
Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington said chinook and coho jigging, over the Samish River channels in Samish Bay, had been prretty good, but that recent rains may have moved the fish into the river. Anglers had been using white or green Point Wilson Darts, John said.