The big news this week, “fishingwise” is the annual salmon derby sporsored by the Gardiner-Reedsport-Winchester Bay STEP chapter which has held the derby Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day Weekend for the past 17 years. As usual, the entry tickets will cost $10.00 for an individual angler and $25.00 per boat.
There are a lot of things to like about this contest – which is fairly simple as fishing contests go. The heaviest salmon weighed in each day wins $150.00 and the heaviest salmon weighed in for the entire derby wins $500.00.00 – since the heaviest salmon for the derby will obviously be the heaviest salmon turned in on the day it was caught, the derby’s heaviest salmon will be worth $650.00 to the lucky angler who catches it.
There are of course, other for derby entrants to get paid. Anglers will be entered in a blind drawing each time they weigh in a salmon during the derby. The two weigh stations are located at “The Landing Boat Ramp” near the Discovery Center in Reedsport and at the East Basin Boat Ramp near the Coast Guard Station in Winchester Bay There will also be a lucky ticket stub winner. The contest runs during legal fishing hours on Saturday and Sunday and runs until until noon on Monday. (Labor Day).
Tickets can be purchased frm STEP members at each weigh station or from Turman Tackle and Ace Hardware (in Reedsport), the Stockade Market (in Winchester Bay). Altogether, a total of $ 1350.00 will be awarded during the three day derby. Most years and especially on Saturdays, there is a waiting line to purchase tickets. One thing that has been hammered home to me over the last several derbies is that no matter how big the salmon are running, it doesn’t seem to have any influence regarding the weight of the heaviest salmon taken during the derby.
Winchester Bay’s Crab Bounty Contest starts next week. One thing that can be counted on is that $1,000.00 in cash will be awarded at the contest’s conclusion at the end of September – of course it remains to be seen whether one lucky crabber will win $1,000.00 or three different crabbers will win cash prizes of $500.00, $300.00 and $200.00.
Tagged crabs will have a numbered spinner blade tied to one of their rear legs and a total of 100 tagged crabs will be released close to one of the docks where crabbing is allowed. People lucky enough to catch a tagged crab, need to turn it into the Sportsman Cannery in Winchester Bay to receive an immediate prize of a hat or a T-shirt and ensure their chance to win of the larger cash prizes.
The Buoy 10 fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River is approaching its harvest quota and went to only fin-clipped hatchery chinooks as of last Friday. It seems that the Port of Astoria temporarily raising parking fees from $10.00 to $20.00 wasn’t much of a deterrant to Buoy 10 salmon anglers.
Although the ocean off of Winchester Bay remains the best salmon-catching option, the Umpqua River between Winchester Bay and Reedsport has shown definite improvement. While the Umpqua River is open for chinook salmon all year, ocean chinook in our region (Cape Falcon yo Humbug Mountain) is only open through October 15th.