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Tony’s Tackle Box

by Kurt Hoehne

TonyFloorsmheadIt was ten years ago, back in the fall of 2003, when the NW Marine Trade Association launched a promotion called the NW Salmon Derby Series that would change the way salmon derbies were viewed and promoted through today. In it’s 10th anniversary, the Series kicks off a 15 tournament schedule, beginning in February with the Roche Harbor Salmon Classic. Time flies when you’re having fun.

The Series was conceived by Elliott Bay Marina Manager Dwight Jones who put an idea on the table that took off like a wildfire. In that inaugural year of 2004, the Series partnered with six existing salmon derbies (Roche Harbor, Discovery Bay, Gig Harbor, Hood Canal, Edmonds and Everett). Since that kickoff year, the Series has blossomed into a family of 15 salmon derbies which includes some of the biggest salmon tournaments in Washington State and the west coast.

The promotion was created to promote salmon anglers to go fishing in Washington, with special emphasis on targeting hatchery produced chinook and coho salmon. For those anglers who participated in one or more of the salmon derbies in the Series, they qualified to win a grand prize fishing boat, fully outfitted.

For the third consecutive year, the 2013 Derby Series boat is a 21-foot aluminum fishing machine, donated by River Hawk boats in Medford, Oregon, outfitted with a high-tech 150 horsepower state-of-the-art Mercury 4-stroke outboard motor. It makes about as much noise as a mouse squealing for more cheese. The boat comes equipped with a HDS-8 Lowrance gps/depth sounder and radar, Dual stereo, Scotty electric downriggers with rod holders and sits on a tandem axel Karavan galvanized trailer. Presenting sponsors will once again be Allstate and Brotherton GMC-Cadillac in Renton. The total value of the boat package pushes $60,000, all donated by the manufacturers. Very cool! Not a bad prize by simply participating in a salmon derby, whether the winner catches a fish or not! And the more tournaments an angler attends, the greater the chance to win the grand prize boat. The winner’s name is drawn at the big Everett Coho Derby in late September.

Ask Lon Hayne of Bellevue, or Randy Aden of Hoodsport, or even Gary Curtis, who fished in the Edmonds Coho Derby if their time fishing in one of the derbies in the Series was worthwhile. They each hauled away a $60,000 fully equipped salmon fishing boat by attending and participating in one of the derbies in the Series.

Entering this 10th annual NW Salmon Derby Series, the new grand prize boat, boat number #10, represents over a half million bucks  in boats the Northwest Marine Trade Association has given away, no strings attached. And Santa Claus thinks his job is awesome.

Check out the Derby Series website (NorthwestSalmonDerbySeries.com) to learn about the exclusive schedule of participating derbies in the Series. Remember, only the derbies in the 2013 Series qualifies you to win the grand prize boat. By my estimation, one derby (one ticket) puts a salmon angler in the raffle drawing with about 7,000 other anglers. The more derbies you attend, the more tickets you’ll have in the drawing on September 22nd at the Everett Coho Derby.

February has always been one of my favorite months. The days are slowly getting longer, and, as I have reported in this space in recent years, we mysteriously witness gorgeous breaks in the winter weather, more so than other months.

February always finds me fishing in the San Juan Islands, for winter blackmouth, starting with next weekend’s Roche Harbor Salmon Classic blackmouth tournament. This is a “big boy’s” event as it takes about seven $100 bills to get into the tournament. Congrats to Roche Harbor and Debbie Sandwith for hosting it’s 10th annual salmon derby, usually a sellout of 100 boats in the two day event (Feb. 8-9). For more info on this prestigious event, you can write Debbie at: market@rocheharbor.com.

It was exactly two years ago, that Derek Floyd from Camano Island walked up the dock at Roche Harbor with the all-time biggest blackmouth ever entered in the tournament, a 28 pounder, topping the standing record of 26 pounds set back in ’04.

I’ve fished with Derek a couple of times since that historic day in 2011 and I’m convinced, the guy is the real thing. Just two weeks ago, the two of us fished one of the banks on the south end of the San Juans and we put four hatchery produced blackmouth up to 11 pounds in the boat in one hour. It’s okay to start stuttering. I said one hour! Don’t look at me, look at Derek. Great instincts, great interpretation in what’s going on from the surface of the water down to the deck, in about 135 feet of water. He puts the snack on the table, right in the fish’s face and uh-oh, rod tip slams into the water. Chrome winter chinook in the fish box, brilliant red-meated fresh blackmouth between the cheek and gum. Ohhhhh, somebody help me.

Go fish with the guy (AnglersChoiceFishing.com) and see for yourself. I guarantee you’ll walk away, at the end of the day, with a big smile on your face, speaking in tongues.

February also offers Dan Tatum’s Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby, formerly known as the Iron Man Derby, based out of Gardnier, near Sequim. It is a three day event, (Feb. 16-18) and offers great blackmouth fishing in the eastern region of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In recent years, up to 800 anglers compete in this tournament and proceeds are donated to the local fire department and community services. This tournament just keeps on ticking as one of the oldest and longest standing salmon fishing tournaments in Washington. More information is available on the Derby Series website.

Salmon fishing in February for late winter blackmouth is on my mind. Getting outside and looking for something large and chrome, pulling on the end of my string works for me. Time to go fishing. See you on the water.

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