Recollections of a derby doer. We've been fishing the Discovery Bay derby for so long that many of the friends that we fished with in the past have gone on to the big derby in the sky... Or moved on to more socially acceptable hobbies that don't have their friends and loved ones worried about their safety and sanity this derby weekend.
This derby seems to bring out the best and the worst in the competitors. I remember fishing this derby with my brother Russell Delia in the early 1980s, fishing in a small 12 foot aluminum boat with an old Honda motor that I swear we had to keep pulling just to get up to trolling speed. We were fishing on the Beckett point side of discovery Bay when the wind came up so fierce that we had to beach the boat and wait out the storm. We built a fire, and soon were roasting oysters and drying out our soaking wet clothes when we heard the familiar sound of the Port Angeles based US Coast Guard rescue helicopter. The chopper pilot flew into our makeshift campsite and while hovering just above sea level gave us the thumbs up or thumbs down sign. We were fine and waved him off thankful that there were men like this willing to sacrifice their own safety for us.
And then there was the time I was fishing with my ex-wife on the same side of the bay near Beckett point fishing in my 12 foot aluminum boat when a pod of orca's came swimming right up behind our boat pausing long enough to look us right in the eyes ! I think that was the last time my ex ever went salmon fishing with me ?
I remember one year on opening derby day with just enough morning light to make out the outline of a boat in front of us as we watched two fishermen land a huge salmon at Diamond Point within about five minutes of the opening gun. Being the curious fisherman I am we motored close enough to the boat to ask the fisherman if we could see the fish. When they lifted the giant salmon I could tell right away that something wasn't right, the gills were a dark red not the bright red of a freshly caught fish. Later upon inspection by derby officials the fish was found ineligible for the derby and the fishermen were eligible for prison.
Another year I was fishing with a friend who I don't fish with much anymore after he missed netting a really big salmon I had hooked and played until we were both exhausted but couldn't move the fish close enough to the boat for him to make a good net. We estimated that fish to be at least 20 pounds, and that year a 16 pound salmon won the Derby !
Last year fishing out of the oysterchannel.com's small salmon mooching boat we took three waves over the front of the boat coming into the Sequim Bay Marina, saw a couple of large salmon swim by the windshield, and pretty much decided at that moment that we might find a new hobby !
Well here we are again in the 2015 Discovery Bay salmon derby, now renamed The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby, still trying for the big salmon in the sky. We were young when we first started fishing this derby and now we are senior citizens trying to stay warm, trying to keep the waves from capsizing our boat, and trying to have as much fun as humanly possible while sitting in a small, cold 16 foot metal boat, dragging a dead herring, hoping, as usual to hit the jackpot.
Derby Update- Well the parties over, the rods and reels, boats and motors, tackle and other gear are washed and put away until the next derby or salmon opening somewhere. As usual, it was a tough one for me and the Greggie, but looking on the bright side, we survived to fish another derby and as usual, spent three days in the prison boat working on solutions for world peace and food for all…just not salmon fillets on our table this derby.
Day one of the derby found us mooching herring off Protection Island in about 90-120 feet of water with blue skies and hardly a breath of air. After two missed bites i finally landed a beautiful wild 12 pound blackmouth salmon that had to be released to grow bigger and be released again. Greggie missed a bite and landed a large Starry Flounder.