Local 10-year-old takes top prize at coho derby

The Eagle Creek Elementary student catches a 10.24-pound silver to bring home the $2,000 prize.

By Wayne Kruse

For The Herald

The story can be summed up as follows: Experienced Angler Boats 10-pounder, Wins Coho Derby, Banks Two Grand.

The experienced angler is Alex Davis, a 10-year-old student at Eagle Creek Elementary in Arlington, who walked away with the $2,000 first-place cash prize in Saturday’s initial running of the Bob Heirman Memorial Coho Derby on the Snohomish River system. In a phone interview, Davis said, sure, he’s caught salmon before. Of course.

The experienced angler was fishing with his father, Adam, and caught the 10.24-pound silver upriver from Snohomish, using a frog pattern Dick Nite spoon. The fish fought really hard, he said.

You can buy a whole lot of Reese’s Pieces with that kind of money, so what does he plan to spend it on?

Nothing, he said — “We’re putting it in the bank.”

Way to go, Alex.

Second place and $1,000 went to Kurtis Crylou, at 9.95 pounds, and third, worth $500, to Tanya McMillan at 8.80 pounds. Derby coordinator Mark Spada of the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club, said the derby sold 107 tickets and weighed 21 entries

The event was sort of a replacement for the Everett Coho Derby, which fell victim to coho closures in local saltwater this year. Unfortunately, this river competition happened to hit one of the driest summers in years, and Spada said fishing was tough.

“Most of the coho appear to be kegged up in the deep holes in the upper Snohomish, waiting for rain,” he said. “I didn’t hear of a fish being caught below Douglas Bar — most were taken between Thomas’ Eddy and the 522 bridge.”

Bob Hammond of Three Rivers Marine fished the derby and his group may have been in the money if they could have “finished.” But much like the Seahawks in the red zone, they lost all three of the coho they hooked.

“And these looked like nice fish; in the 8- to 12-pound range,” he said.

Hammond’s group was anchoring and casting purple and Chrome/black stripe Brad’s Wigglers, along with Dick Nites.

A few coho are starting to trickle into the Skykomish now, Hammond said. He’s heard of fish taken recently from the reformatory hole in Monroe on eggs.

Winter crab

The winter recreational crab season opened Oct. 7 to run through the end of the year, seven days a week, in marine areas 4, 5, 6, 7, 8-1, 8-2 and 9. The season covers Dungeness crab (five per day), red rock crab (six per day), and tanner crab (six per day). All Dungeness crab harvested during this period must be recorded on a winter catch record card.

The past summer offered less than banner crabbing and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Don Velasquez at the Mill Creek office said this winter will likely be similar. The southern marine areas, 10 (Seattle), 11 (Tacoma), 12 (Hood Canal) and 13 (south Sound), will have no winter season at all, and Velasquez said tribal commercial crabbers have also agreed to not fish those areas.

Velasquez said the reason for current low crab populations can probably be blamed on environmental conditions, including warmer water temperatures the past three or four years.

“We expected this in the southern areas, but were surprised by impacts in the north areas as well,” he said. “Probably the area closest to normal will be 7 (San Juan Islands),” he said. “When non-tribal commercials had an opening Oct. 1, most of them headed there.”

Razor clams

The 2017-18 razor clam season started well with a good dig Friday and Saturday on minus 0.4 and minus 0.7-foot tides respectively. People seemed relatively satisfied, according to state coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres in Montesano, despite being squeezed for light between late tides and early dark.

“As expected, the clams were a little smaller but more abundant on Copalis and Mocrocks, and a little less abundant but larger at Twin Harbors and Long Beach,” Ayres said.

The next dig is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 2-5, depending on marine toxin tests later this month.

“There will be a lot of clams left to harvest,” Ayres said.

Samish closes

The WDFW has closed the lower portion of the Samish River to all fishing as of Oct. 10 because of a depressed run of chinook spawning stock to the Samish Hatchery. The run has been projected to be below the number of brood stock needed for hatchery operations.

The section of river closed runs from the mouth (Bayview-Edison Road) upstream to the I-5 Bridge.

The season could be reopened if either the egg take requirements are met, or if the chinook run ends.

Less complicated regs

The WDFW is in the first year of a three year program to simplify recreational fishing regulations, this year being dedicated to freshwater fish such as steelhead, trout and warm-water species. Salmon will be addressed next year, and shellfish and other marine fish in 2019. The department has a package of proposed rules available and is seeking public input. Review and comment on the package at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/ through Nov. 30. For a hard copy call 360-902-2700.

Some of the changes in the proposal package include: Standardizing the statewide season for rivers, streams and beaver ponds to the Saturday before Memorial Day, through Oct. 31; eliminating most mandatory steelhead retention; reducing the complexity of regulations — such as daily limits, size limits and seasons — in lakes and ponds; standardizing regulations in rivers and streams for bass, channel cats and walleye. Under the proposal there would be no daily limit or minimum size for those species.

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