More than 1,100 contestants and sponsors fished for what proved to be the largest class of late-winter salmon yet seen during the four years the Anacortes Salmon Derby has been in existence. Ralph Thomas of Tacoma anxiously watched as his 27.48-pound Chinook salmon, which led all fish caught on Saturday, March 27, remained atop the leader board as the weigh-in closed Sunday at noon. “I thought at first that my fishing line was hung up on a nearby crab pot … but when I grabbed my rod and started to reel, he just took off,” Thomas said. “At the rate that fish was peeling off line, I knew I had a good one. The fish almost took all my line off the reel before I caught back up with it.” The win was a family affair for Thomas, who went on to say: “This is a great event. I brought my wife and daughter because I had heard it was family friendly, and we were not disappointed.” When asked what he was going to do with his share of the winnings, Thomas said “Things have been tight, financially, and this couldn’t have come at a better time.” A big-fish show: Thomas’ fish was one of 132 total fish boated during the two day event, nine of which weighed more than 20 pounds. John Belarde of Woodinville won $5,000 for his 2nd place finish with a 25.72-pound fish and Seth Baumgarten of Kirkland took home $2,500 for 3rd place finish with a 24.38-pound fish. Terry Dorn of Anacortes, WA won $2,500 as his 6.09-pounder came closest to a pre-determined weight in the Secret Weight category. Youth Division: Caught on a rod she won for her 1st place finish in the 2008 derby, 14-year-old Nicolienne Francois of Mount Vernon won the Youth Division, beating all others 14 and under by landing a 8.41-pound fish to win yet another fishing rod with reel. “This is great, but I’ll be too old for the youth division next year,” Nicolienne remarked. Women’s Division: Pam Ferkindstad of Edmonds won the Women’s Division with a 15.62 pound fish, disappointing the other 101 women anglers in the derby and took home a beautiful gold bracelet and $500 for her winning effort. Derby “Best Ever”: “This year’s event was the best one to date” said Derby Chairman Jay Field. “Over and over, I kept hearing remarks from the contestants such as: “the best; so friendly; well organized; fun” … indicating they had a great time. Field continued, “This event is the result of hundreds and hundreds of hours of planning and effort by members of the Fidalgo Chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers who are dedicated to producing the premier salmon derby in the state. We’re very proud of what we have accomplished here.” Local support of the Anacortes Derby continues to provide the foundation of what has quickly become one of the signature events in the yearly Northwest Marine Trade Association’s – Salmon Derby Series. “This charitable community event could not take place without the ongoing support from the Port of Anacortes and the generosity of local businesses, and those businesses with ties to the fishing community,” Field said. Derby benefits local students: The proceeds from the Anacortes Salmon Derby fund scholarships to benefit young adults pursuing a career in fisheries and related science. The club disbursed over $25,000 in scholarship and grant money in 2009. That’s Jay Field in photo, center, blue jacket. For more information, please go to: www.anacortessalmonderby.com
A fourth generation Skagit County native who was moved kicking and screaming from this island community in 1960. I finally reclaimed an Anacortes address in 1980, and I have been in constant celebration of my return since that time. Many of us who call Anacortes home love Fidalgo Island for its natural assets: among them are rugged beaches, pristine lakes, thousands of acres of forestland and some awesome views of the Skagit Valley and surrounding islands. Another element of my love affair with this community is its people, both natives and immigrants. They will “star” in many of my journal entries.
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