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Freeland salmon derby reels in weighty catch

A proud Cowan Criswell of Freeland holds up his catch, landed at the 2013 Freeland Ace Pink Salmon Derby Saturday, Aug. 24. The annual event took place all over Whidbey Island, resulting in more than 100 fillets donated to Good Cheer Food Bank and a $1,500 scholarship for a South Whidbey graduating senior. - Wayne Furber photo
A proud Cowan Criswell of Freeland holds up his catch, landed at the 2013 Freeland Ace Pink Salmon Derby Saturday, Aug. 24. The annual event took place all over Whidbey Island, resulting in more than 100 fillets donated to Good Cheer Food Bank and a $1,500 scholarship for a South Whidbey graduating senior.
— image credit: Wayne Furber photo

Bush Point was quite a sight this past Saturday, with near shoulder-to-shoulder anglers casting lines and boats tied three deep to mooring buoys.

More than 230 people competed in the Freeland Ace Pink Salmon Derby this year, the third time the hardware store hosted the event with The Fishin’ Club. Ticket sales and donations brought in $2,200, a $600 bump from the previous derby in 2011 and $1,000 more than the first contest in 2009.

The Fishin’ Club also awarded a South Whidbey High School graduating senior a $1,500 scholarship this spring, and the derby brought in more than 100 salmon fillets donated to the Good Cheer Food Bank in Bayview.

Kevin Lungren, vice president of The Fishin’ Club, said the club put out a notice that volunteers would also take salmon catches other than those from the derby and prepare them for the food bank.

“You’ve got to be careful what you wish for,” said Lungren, who added that he and the other nine filleters and packagers finished after 9 p.m. Saturday.

Weigh-in ended around 4:30 p.m.

“The back of my truck was full of coolers and tubs full of fish.”

A total of 10 people volunteered to clean, fillet, package and transport the donated salmon. Aiding Lungren were his wife Mary Jane, daughter Emma Lungren, Jeff Dodd, Wayne Furber, Laura Canby and the Byrd family.

Quite a catch

Good Cheer staff reported the food bank had 191 pounds of salmon on the shelves Monday morning. Little remained by Thursday. Laura Canby photo | Many hands make light work of more than 100 salmon donated to the Good Cheer Food Bank, which were prepared at the Trinity Lutheran Church’s kitchen by the Bird family. From left are Matthew, Elizabeth, Sarah and Kirsten Bird, all of whom volunteered to package the fillets for several hours Aug. 24.

“We were thrilled with the donation,” said Kathy McLaughlin McCabe, Good Cheer’s executive director. “That was very exciting for our clients and the food bank.”

Salmon fillets cost three points at the food bank, the same as ground beef and ground chicken. Comparatively, a whole young chicken, stored in the freezer underneath the salmon bin, costs five points.

“It’s probably the most nutritious meat we have,” said food bank Manager Karen Korbelik, of the salmon fillets.

The work of volunteers sparked the interest of a new volunteer, a lifelong angler, who will hang up his rod and reel for the benefit of Good Cheer’s clients. Mark Nudelman of Greenbank offered to collect anglers’ catches in a cooler filled with ice and take them to the food bank in Bayview.

“I was down at Bush Point and there were 100 people there, all limiting,” said Nudelman, 46.

“I can’t imagine most people wouldn’t give a clean fish … I wish I could do it more than a day or two a week.”

He said he plans to be at Bush Point at least one day a week with a cooler and a sign from Good Cheer about salmon donations through late September.

Collecting salmon was about as far as his help would go though, for good reason.

“You don’t want me filleting your fish, believe me,” Nudelman said.

Derby results

Scott Fair won the top prize, a Weber Spirit barbecue and cover, with a 7.14-pound pink salmon — the second-largest pink recorded in the short history of the Freeland Ace derby.

Dan Simpson followed with the second-place pink salmon of 7.04 pounds. Keith Bosley finished in third place with a 6.95-pounder and won a Fenwick rod and Abu Garcia reel.

“No real-big fish this year,” Lungren said.

In the young angler division, Emma Sternitzky took first place with a 5.59-pound humpy, winning a tackle box and fishing tackle. She was followed by former children’s division champion Taylor Fifield, whose catch weighed 5.51 pounds. Sage Sharp finished third with a 5.51-pound pink salmon.

An additional 27 raffle tickets were sold to boost the total sales and proceeds for The Fishin’ Club’s scholarship fund.

Pink salmon were the hot catch this weekend around Puget Sound.

At the Mukilteo Lighthouse Park, just across the water from the Clinton Ferry Terminal, 427 pinks were recorded between Friday and Sunday. More than 1,000 pink salmon catches were recorded at the Everett Public Ramp over the weekend.

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