Fish & Feathers: Going for the gold!

The last day of the ocean Chinook season produced major catches. Fourteen Chinook plus 19 coho (not shown) were caught on the Big Dipper.

This past week produced some outstanding catches at the Ilwaco Charter Association Derby Booth, on the docks of Ilwaco. While the ocean yielded numerous catches of prized Chinook salmon, it was the river that produced the big fish. The Buoy 10 fishery is not yet showing a lot of fish but some are very respectible.

On Saturday, Alan Lederman fishing on the Coho King, skippered by Butch Smith owner of Coho Charters, landed a 41-pound chinook which pushed a 38-pound fish captured on the Katie Marie (Captain Robby Gudgill) into second place. Also landed (dressed weight) were a 34-pound, 32-pound, 31-pound, 29-pound, 27-pound and 30-pound fish. A 38-pound and a 46.25-pound fish were also landed but the fishermen had not purchased derby tickets. There is also prize money for cohos; the largest this week was 12.05 (dressed weight).

The derby offers an opportunity to collect a weekly cash prize and the largest fish for the season collects $1,000. So if you are going out salmon fishing in the river - buy your derby ticket: $3.

While charter boat captains are not notoriously big gamblers, they will ambush their own mother for bragging rights for the largest fish of the salmon season. While Capt. Robbie Gudgell praised Capt. Butch Smith for unseating him as "leader of the pack" you could hear the feel, the disdain and competitiveness in Robbie's tone. While I may have to write about both of them, I have my own plan.

Ocean Chinook is closed in Area 1 (Ilwaco)  While the ocean is closed to Chinook fishing it is open to coho fishing, hopefully through the first week of September.

River Safety  The primary objective of all fishermen is to return safely, some people are having a hard time achieving that.

On Sunday morning a small boat capsized near the south jetty, with four people aboard. Initial reports were that all four were clinging to the boat in rough seas on a strong out-going tide. Later that morning at 8:45 a.m. a 21-foot Bayliner was taking on heavy water at the CR Buoy and in danger of sinking. The USCG dispatched a "safe boat"; a 47-footer and a helo to aid the vessel and it was subsequently towed to port. In listening to the report on the VHF radio, the operator was well prepared, with GPS coordinates, flares, lifejackets and a clam voice, although it was noted that the passengers on the vessel did not put on lifejackets until advised by the Coast Guard.

Small boaters are advised to wear their lifejackets at all times and avoid crossing the bar on strong minus tides.

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