ILWACO — The salmon derby in Ilwaco has been one of the most popular events and has been around since the 1960s and now it is now being hailed as a community derby as Don Shaw of Don’s Portside Café and Pizzeria worked since May to gain sponsors to keep the derby going. The derby was originally put on to add more interest to the new charter boat sport fishery in the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean for the past 50 years.

    “Some charter operators were talking about their part in the 2013 season and they were leaning on discontinuing the event,” Shaw said. “With the economy’s decline and Ilwaco’s decline with it, I had been looking for some way to try to help breathe a little life back into Ilwaco’s economy.”

    First Shaw began to establish a prize cache and he was able to raise close to $10,000 in prize money through donations from the local business community. He has advertised the salmon derby through signage and through the newly restored loudspeaker system at the Port of Ilwaco and through grass roots communication between individuals. Over 40 local businesses have donated prizes or cash, including a bonus of $1,000 for anyone catching a Chinook salmon weighing more than 41 pounds after being dressed and the blood line removed.

    Anchor Realty and Dan O’Neil are offering the $1,000 bonus for a salmon weighing more than 41 pounds, but fishermen must buy a $3 derby ticket to be eligible for the big prize. Derby tickets can be purchased at the derby booth at the Port of Ilwaco, all water front charter offices, Ilwaco Bait and Tackle, Red Wagon Soups and Sausages and Don’s Portside Café and Pizzeria.

    Currently the largest Chinook weighed in at 31.8 pounds and the largest coho is 12.05 pounds. Prizes are also given for the smallest legal coho and the leader is 1.2 pounds. Robert Gerlitz caught the largest sturgeon at 53.4 pounds and he won $500 from the Ilwaco Charter Association, $100 from Don’s Portside Café and Pizzeria and $50 from ReMax Realty and Holly Beller. Anglers fishing on charter boats, in private boats or off the jetty are all eligible to win prizes. If a local senior catches the largest fish he will receive $1,800 and if a local senior lady catches the biggest fish she will receive $1,850. The derby will end Sept. 2 at 4 p.m.

    Weekly prizes alternate between the largest Chinook and the largest coho. Weekly winners receive a fishing vacation including hotel, food, transportation by Royal Cab gift card, Pepsi, a Weber kettle grill and 50-quart Igloo cooler. Daily winners receive “I caught the big one” T-shirts. A random drawing of derby tickets turned back in to the booth is also held each week and the winner receives $50.

    “It is nice to see a line in front of my business here at the Port of Ilwaco at 4:30 a.m.,” Shaw says of his business. He sells espresso, breakfast sandwiches, sack lunches and beverages. “Money collected from selling derby tickets helps send a representative to meet with state officials regarding maintaining fishing seasons, reducing closures and strengthening fish enhancement programs for all of us to enjoy the fun and excitement of fishing. It could be Christmas in September for the lucky winners.”

    For more information go to Ilwaco Fishing Derby at

    Those sponsoring the derby include Ilwaco Charter Association, Wilcox and Flegel Oil Company, Cottage Bakery, Discovery Coast Realty, Queen La De Da, Red Wagon Soups and Sausages, Sid’s IGA Market, ReMax Realty, Dennis Company, Art’s Auto Supply, artist Don Nesbit, BJR Construction, Beach Batteries, Bank of Pacific, Blue Crab Graphics, City of Ilwaco, Coastal Towing and Salvage, Coastal Inn and Suites, Col-Pacific Motel, Chautauqua Lodge, Curbside Grill, Discovery Coast Real Estate, Dooger’s Restaurant, Englund Marine, Heidi’s Inn, Ilwaco Bait and Tackle, Lighthouse Realty, Loose Kaboose Diner, Marsh’s Free Museum, Oceanic RV Park, Pacific Realty, Pepsi, Peninsula Golf Course, Peninsula Pharmacy, Pioneer Market, Powell and Seiler, Port of Ilwaco, Roadway Inn and Suites, Royal Cab, Seaview One Stop Shell Mart and Portside Café and Pizzeria.

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