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Salmon derby expected to double scholarship funds for Fishin’ Club
Pink salmon come but once every other year.
When they do, The Fishin’ Club is sure to capitalize on it. And that’s why the club organized the Whidbey Island Pink Salmon Derby with Freeland Ace Hardware for a second year.
It is also the reason more than 200 anglers will cast lines from beaches, wharfs and boats on Whidbey Island Saturday, Aug. 20.
“The draw is you can turn in the biggest silver or king salmon and it doesn’t matter,” said Kevin Lungren, the club’s vice president. “This is about pinks, which virtually everybody can catch.”
At the previous derby in 2009, 77 fish were weighed-in, an impressive catch rate for derbies in Puget Sound.
Because the pinks, also called humpies, arrive every odd year, organizers had plenty of time to prepare. They planned the second salmon derby around a high tide in the morning. It allows boaters and beach fishers a better opportunity to hook a winning salmon.
“The island is wide open and you can fish from a boat or the beach,” he said. “Start early and watch the tides.”
The previous winner had a dandy day dangling for humpies at the derby.
Peter Manney, a Clinton resident, entered the competition with his 6-year-old stepdaughter Taylor in 2009. He prefers silver and king salmon, but registered to spend a day on the water with Taylor — her first fishing derby.
“Being able to go out with your kids, because the pink salmon are smaller and coho and king salmon a child really shouldn’t reel in,” Manney said.
He got more than quality father-daughter time. Manney and Taylor won first place in their respective categories, and had it been an open, all-ages competition, they would have finished first and second.
Before illusions of grandeur could set it, Manney noted the fish were small — for the guy who prefers silvers and kings — and came in around five pounds.
A lifelong fisherman, Manney had simple advice for hooking humpies.
“Don’t give them any slack,” he said.
The reigning champions are returning this year for another go at hooking the winners. More importantly for Manney is the bonding time on Mutiny Bay, casting pink buzz bombs and waiting for the bites.
“It’s about being able to go out with my daughter and see if we can do it again,” he said.
Prizes are another big lure for this year’s event.
Kari Gerow from Ace Hardware said the awards are a Weber barbecue, an electric downrigger, a Little Chief Smoker and a Stihl chainsaw for adults and a fishing kit for youths that includes a rod, a reel and a tackle box. The prizes will be given to the three heaviest pink salmon in each division. Weigh-in begins at noon and entries must be in the line at Ace by 4 p.m.
“In order to get good participation, you need to have good prizes,” said Wayne Furber, a Fishin’ Club board member.
More prizes were added for the raffle portion this year, too. Different vendors donated items for it, such as crab traps, rods, reels and fishing nets. The organizers wanted to increase the amount of prizes to cast a wider net of appeal. Each registered entrant will have their name put in for the raffle.
“Even though you haven’t won with a fish, you can still win a prize,” Furber said.
A hot dog lunch will also be offered, with $3 buying a hot dog, a can of pop and a bag of chips.
Funds from the derby go toward more than the club’s coffers. The money raised is used for student scholarships. Scholarships vary in value and are awarded to one or two recipients pursuing a marine or fisheries related major or degree.
On a pink salmon year, also a derby year, the scholarship fund is closer to $3,000.
Whether competitors enter for a chance at fishing or raffle prizes, it helps The Fishin’ Club continue to fund students’ education.
Participants can pre-register until Friday, Aug. 19 at Ace Hardware in Freeland. Derby fees are $7 for adults and $3 for youths 12 years old and younger. Call Gerow at 331-6793 for additional details.