The first rule of sportfishing — immutable, set in concrete — is: “If you really want to be beaten badly; completely embarrassed; go fishing with a kid or a rank beginner. Your guest will catch more and larger fish every time.”
There are no exceptions to Rule 1.
And while Bronson Rowe is not exactly a “kid,” at 15-years-old he doesn’t qualify as a grizzled veteran, either.
Rowe won Saturday’s Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby, beating out approximately 270 other participants with a fish of 1.68 pounds and taking home a check from the Dick Nite folks for a cool $1,000.
“That was so great,” said Greg Rockenbach, owner of Greg’s Custom Rods in Lake Stevens and one of the derby coordinators. “He rode his bike down here on Thursday to buy his ticket, but didn’t have enough money. So he had to come back on Friday afternoon, cutting it pretty close.”
Rockenbach said Rowe lives on the lake and does a lot of fishing, but that his boat is “small,” and his equipment “minimal.” One of the competitors he out-fished was a professional, John Thomas of Snohomish and his Rotten Chum Guide Service. Thomas did pretty well, too, Rockenbach said, putting his six clients into 30 fish.
Rowe’s kokanee topped last year’s first place 1.43-pounder, making Rockenbach a winner for predicting a larger top dawg this year. The four largest money winners, in fact, beat out last year’s big fish: Wade Purdy in second place at 1.62 pounds, worth $500; Taylor Derns in third at 1.59 pounds, worth $250; and Ryan Gese at 1.52 pounds, worth $100.
The kids’ division (14 and under) and a check for $100 was won by young Miss Parker Jeanes. Second (any species) and $75 went to Max Hill with a 3.15-pound rainbow trout, while third and $50 was won by Mackenzie Ramsey with a 2.52-pound smallmouth bass.
Heaviest kokanee limit (up to 10 fish) and $500 went to Bruce McCall at 12.54 pounds, and second to Frank Linskey at 12.16 pounds. Largest trout weighed in at 5.38 pounds and won $500 for Kevin Edwards. Biggest kokanee by an active/retired military member was a fish of 1.26 pounds, caught by Dave Dow.
Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club representative Mark Spada said the majority of the kokanee entered in the event were probably caught on a dodger/Wedding Ring or dodger/mini-squid combo, tipped with a maggot or kernel of corn.
“Everything went pretty smoothly this year,” Rockenbach said. “There were no parking problems, the weather wasn’t bad, and we weighed in more fish than last year. I was particularly pleased to see the big rainbow, because most years a 1- or 2-pounder wins that category.”
He said a plant of 300 pen-raised triploid rainbow going 2 to 10 pounds went into the lake only three days prior to the derby, funded by the Jim George family, and that the first-place fish probably came from that plant.
“It should make Trout Lodge happy,” Rockenbach said. “They’re the commercial supplier of those fish, and they also donated the $500 prize money.”
The derby is sponsored by the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club and the Lake Stevens Lions Club.
The lower Columbia sturgeon opener May 11-12 produced fair fishing on the Washington side, according to state biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver, with almost a 50-50 chance a sturgeon caught would be a legal keeper. Checks at the port of Chinook showed 11 private boats and 32 fishermen released 4 sublegals and 2 oversize fish, while boating 11 legals. One charter with 5 anglers released 6 sublegals and 2 oversize fish, while keeping 1 legal.
Lings and halibut
Bottomfishing remained strong in many saltwater areas, for a mix of species. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife checks Saturday at the Port of Everett ramp showed 66 anglers in 27 boats with 2 halibut and 7 lings. Odds were even better in the San Juan Islands and banks to the west, where 202 anglers at the Cornet Bay ramp on Whidbey Island had 18 lings, 31 halibut, and 3 cabezon. At the Washington Park ramp in Anacortes it was 120 anglers with 19 lings, 6 halibut and 2 cabezon.
The major halibut fishery, however, remained on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the numbers were pretty good. Late last week, 246 anglers at the Port Angeles Public ramp on Ediz Hook had 92 halibut, while on Saturday, 153 fishermen had 40 halibut.
Rob Endsley with Prince of Wales Sportfishing in Craig, Alaska, said the lingcod limits in his area will remain the same this summer as they were last year. That means non-resident anglers will be able to keep one ling between 30 and 45 inches and another trophy-class fish over 55 inches
Man, a 55- or 60-inch ling would be an awesome thing to behold.
The Columbia River shad fishery is kicking into gear, according to WDFW creel samplers, who checked 75 anglers over the weekend below Bonneville Dam, with 70 shad kept and 5 released.
Fishermen at the mouth of the Wind River are catching some chinook, but most are jacks. At Drano Lake, fishermen last week aveaged one springer per 5 rods, about 35 percent jacks.
The mark-selective chinook fishery improved somewhat last week on the Washington north coast. The Neah Bay area was best, showing 343 anglers contacted Friday and Saturday with 64 kings.
For more outdoors news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.
The state and Tacoma Power are hosting a public meeting regarding Cowlitz River fisheries and hatchery programs, May 29 in Centralia. The meeting is scheduled from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Room 103, Washington Hall, Centralia College, at Washington Avenue and Pear Street.
Representatives will discuss an update to the Fisheries and Hatchery mnagement Plan for the Cowlitz River and recommenations for next year’s hatchery production. There will be an opportunity for public input on both issues.
As a condition of its operating license, Tacoma Power submitted the updated plan to the the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in November of last year, outlining its program to maximize wild fish production in the Cowlitz while also working to maintain sustainable fishing opportunities.
The plan sets out expectations for increasing the abundance of wild salmon and steelhead in the river, maintaining hatchery production and monitoring and evaluating programs in the coming years.
Contact WDFW REgion 5 office at 360-696-6211.