Peter Manney wins first-ever pink salmon derby

Trevor Huff waits his turn at weigh-in for the Whidbey Pink Salmon Derby. His patience was rewarded — he took third place in the under-14 category with his 4.21-pound fish. - Wayne Furber photo
Trevor Huff waits his turn at weigh-in for the Whidbey Pink Salmon Derby. His patience was rewarded — he took third place in the under-14 category with his 4.21-pound fish.
— image credit: Wayne Furber photo

What if you held a fishing derby and nobody came?

That certainly wasn’t the case Saturday as 247 people signed up for the Whidbey Pink Salmon Derby hosted by the Fishin’ Club and Ace Hardware in Freeland.

“A lot of work was involved in pulling this together, but we had a great team and we learned ways to make the next derby even more successful,” said organizer Kari Gerow. “We are extremely pleased with the participation and success of our first event.”

Though 208 adults registered, 58 weighed in with a fish. For the young anglers, 39 registered and 19 brought in a fish to be weighed.

Peter Manney took first-place honors with a salmon weighing 5.63 pounds, followed by Kurt Nelson (4.77) and Eric Fister (4.69).

For the young anglers under 14, Taylor Fifiled brought in a 4.81-pound salmon while Kieran Birchfiled (4.70) and Trevor Huff (4.21) posted second and third.

“We raised $1,200, which will go toward the Fishin’ Club’s annual college student scholarship, which is awarded to a student going into the marine sciences or land conservation field,” Gerow said.

There were two large ice chests for those who wanted to give their catch to Good Cheer, she added, and roughly 30 fish were donated.

Fishin’ Club board member Wayne Furber said that, apart from the scholarships, there was another benefit.

“We gained some new members to the club,” he said. “No politics, just fishing and tall tales.”

Furber added that a woman came up to him at the derby to say how she and her husband had taken the Fishin’ 101 class offered by the group.

“She said they had caught their very first fish the day before, and were headed out again,” he recalled. “We like to hear stuff like that.”

A hot dog lunch brought fishers and shoppers to the front of Ace Hardware, and many stayed to watch as the fish started coming in to be weighed. Several committee members from the Fishin’ Club pitched in to sell hot dogs, take pictures and tell folks about the Fishin’ Club.

“We were thrilled to offer our community a family-fishing tournament providing the not-so-serious fishermen a chance to win some very nice prizes,” said organizer Gary Ando.

“We knew from the start that most of the fish would be about the same size. Limiting the catch to pinks gave our local kids and the casual fisherman a realistic chance to win it all,” Ando explained. “Our aim was to offer a fun family event, and I believe we hit it on the button.”

At 7 p.m. tonight at the Bayview Senior Center, the club will host expert fishing guide and equipment guru Mike Reeves. His topics will include fishing the Skagit River, plus local lakes, for all types of fish.

“He’ll talk about the proper use of lures, bait, smelly jelly and rods for a successful fishing experience,” Furber said. “Everyone is welcome.

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