It’s time to start thinking about the annual S.T.E.P. Salmon Derby put on each year by our local Gardiner-Reedsport-Winchester Bay S.T.E.P. Chapter over Labor Day Weekend.
This year’s contest will mark the 25th consecutive year the contest has been held and as far as salmon derbies go, this one is very successful. A major strength of this derby is its simplistic consistency. The derby runs from daylight to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 1st and 2nd) and from daylight until noon on Monday (Labor Day- Sept. 3rd).
The derby is cheap – only costing $10 for an individual and only $25 for a boat (which may include three or more people and these tickets are good for the entire derby – if purchased beforehand and for the remaining portion of the derby – if purchased during the contest.
Cash prizes for the derby are $150 for the heaviest salmon turned in each day with the heaviest salmon turned in during the derby receiving an additional $500 ($650 total). Each salmon weighed in during the contest gets the person who caught it a chance at being a “blue ticket” winner and there will be three such $100 cash prizes awarded during the contest. There is also a “ticket stub” drawing of $100 and a $100 cash prize for the lightest legal salmon weighed during the tournament.
While the cash prizes, with the exception of the one for the lightest legal salmon, have been consistent for years, there have been major changes in the number of derby sponsors and the value of the merchandise being given away via raffles.
Tickets are available for purchase now at the Stockade Market in Winchester Bay and Ace Hardware in Reedsport. They may also be purchased during the derby at the East Basin Boat Ramp in Winchester Bay and the Rainbow Plaza Boat Ramp in Reedsport.
Specific sponsors for this year’s derby include Gerhard Goorhuis D.D.S in Reedsport (Saturday’s big fish); North Coast Lures & Flies in Florence (Sunday’s big fish) and Fred Wahl Construction in Reedsport (Monday’s big fish). The heaviest salmon of the derby is sponsored by the Y Marina and the smallest legal salmon is sponsored by Jeremy’s Automotive and Offroad.
Other derby sponsors include Sportsman’s Warehouse; BJ’s Ice Cream; Fishermen’s Seafood Market; Englund Marine; Kathy Clemens Coastal Properties; Kevin Ladd Electric; Recreation Station; Salmon Harbor Landing Motel and Umpqua River Inn & Suites.
Fishing guides contributing to the derby include local guides Norma Evans of “A Bent Rod” and Bryan Gill of “The Umpqua Angler” as well as Gary Lewis Guide Service; Grey Ghost Guide Service and Next Adventure.
The Gardiner-Reedsport-Winchester Bay S.T.E.P. Chapter is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising rainbow trout and fall chinook salmon for the lower Umpqua River Basin.