Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? Click here to send us an email and we’ll try to answer it.

General FAQs
Q: CHG 2015: Why isn’t the derby on Presidents Weekend?
Q: NEW 2015: Why aren’t tickets sold at the ramps this year?
Q: What’s the derby’s relationship with NMTA?
Q: What happens if the derby has to be canceled?
Q: Where is camping available?

Fishing rule FAQs
Q: Can I fish two areas? What are the limits?
Q: Is Diamond Pt. too close to Protection Is. for fishing?
Q: “Daylight” seems ambiguous – is it local dawn?
Q: Are two poles permitted?
Q: Are the Area 9 boundaries expanded like in 2011?

Ticket FAQs
Q: When/where do I pick up my tickets bought on-line?
Q: Do I need a separate ticket for each pole I bring?
Q: Can I transfer my ticket DURING the derby?
Q: Can I transfer my ticket BEFORE the derby?
Q: Can I get a refund on an unused ticket?
Q: Can I buy tickets on Sunday or Monday?
Q: Can I reserve a ticket in advance?

Submitting fish FAQs
Q: Must I use one of the official launch ramps?
Q: Should fish be cleaned before submittal?
Q: How do I submit fish from a really big boat?
Q: Can I submit fish other than Chinook salmon?
Q: Why aren’t you collecting fish?
Q: How are fish submitted?
Q: Can somebody submit the same fish more than once?
Q: Can somebody submit a frozen/weighted/cheating fish?
Q: Why “clipped fin” instead of “any legal salmon”?
Q: Can I enter a legal wild salmon for the “Mystery Fish” prize?
Q: Must the entire fin be clipped off cleanly?

Prize FAQs
Q: Do I have to take whatever prize is assigned to my fish rank?
Q: If I get the wrong prize by mistake, can it be corrected?
Q: What happens if somebody breaks the rules or the law?

Nonprofit FAQs
Q: What happens with derby funds?
Q: What was done with proceeds from the 2011 derby?
Q: Why aren’t all funds distributed immediately?

General derby questions

Q: Why isn’t the derby on Presidents Weekend? It was in earlier years.

A: [UPDATED 12/15/14] This change was made for a number of reasons. In our 2015 brochure and in earlier versions of this website, we stated that the state’s 2015 salmon fishing opening for Marine Area 9 wasn’t until Monday 16 February. However, that was incorrect. We apologize for that confusion. The Area 9 season opens on January 16th. Nevertheless, the 2015 derby will be from 2/20 to 2/22 as planned, one week later. With luck that will also mean one week further away from cold winter weather!

Q: Why aren’t tickets sold at the ramps this year? We always used to buy our tickets at the ramp.

A: Starting in 2015, all derby tickets must be purchased in advance. This is in line with how many other Washington fishing derbies operate. This change will streamline the work done by our volunteers at the ramps, it will simplify our ticket management, and it will reduce last-minute uncertainty about event size. This was a hard decision, but we feel it will result in better derbies.

Q: What is the relationship between this derby and the Northwest Marine Trade Association? Your rules say there is no relationship but aren’t you part of the series?

A: Sorry that this was confusing. Yes, this derby is a proud part of the Northwest Salmon Derby Series, and this has been true since the start of the series many years ago. However, our two organizations are independent. We aren’t involved in making NMTA decisions, nor are they involved with ours. From a legal standpoint, the key fact here is that everything related to the NMTA prize boat is their responsibility. Just like you, we wait to see who wins it later in the year.

Q: What happens if the derby has to be canceled, due to extreme weather or other unexpected events?

A: This is a hard question to answer in advance. We really can only say “We would make the best call we could at the time based on the circumstances.” If we have a tsunami, typhoon, or volcanic eruption, if the state closes the salmon season (this did happen once), or we get invaded by Zombies, it’s conceivable that the entire derby would have to be canceled. We would just have to figure things out on the way.

A more likely scenario, one that has occurred in past derbies, is localized bad weather. There have been times when high winds or other conditions made fishing difficult at some locations on one or more days. Fortunately, with a three-day derby spanning 500 square miles of water, anglers have lots of alternatives. If you can’t fish Admiralty Inlet, you can probably fish Discovery Bay, and vice versa. If mid-channel is too rough, it might be good near Marrowstone. To date, we haven’t had such a bad run of weather that determined anglers couldn’t make it out. If the weather keeps a few boats off the water, well…then there are fewer people competing for the big prizes.

In this all-volunteer, nonprofit event, we remain focused on our fundraising mission, and don’t have the same priorities that might be found in a for-profit event run by a resort. A resort would certainly want, and would also have the ability, to reschedule the event for the benefit of their paying customers. In our case, it would be difficult to reschedule the event at a more convenient time (the derby has always been held on Presidents Day Weekend); and everybody fishing our derby knows that our funds are being put to good uses in the community, whether or not you win a prize or catch a fish.

In the future, the derby association will reconsider the question of natural disasters and other events, and think about whether any firm contingency plans should be put in place.

Q: Where is camping available near the boat ramps?

A: It depends on where you’re planning to launch.

  • There’s a great campground by Freshwater Bay quite near the launch ramp. The Clallam County website lists details about that and other county camping locations.

    clallam.net/Countyparks/html/parks_freshwater.htm
  • Near Sequim, there’s lovely Sequim Bay State Park. It’s close to the launch ramps at both John Wayne Marina and Gardiner. There are other State camping locations listed on the state parks department website.

    parks.wa.gov/parks
  • Near Port Townsend, there’s Fort Townsend, Fort Worden, and the spectacular Point Hudson RV park – right on the water, with a view of Mt. Baker, the San Juans, and all the rest of nature. All of these are reasonably close to the Port Townsend Boat Haven launch ramp. The closest is probably at Point Hudson.

    parks.wa.gov/FortWorden
    parks.wa.gov/Fort Townsend
    portofpt.com/rv_park.htm
  • And of course there’s Olympic National Park, though these locations are not so very close to the launch ramps.

    nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/campgrounds

Really, there are so many options, you might just want to do a Google search on camping in Jefferson County and Clallam County Washington. You’ll find plenty of state, county, and private campsites. However, there may be availability issues since many derby anglers will be camping. So definitely call ahead.

Questions about fishing rules

UPDATED 2014: Q: Can I fish more than one area? Can I take each area’s full limit? Can I combine limits?

A: We read the Washington rules as saying: “Yes,” “No,” and “Partly.” You can fish more than one area in the same day, and you can transport through or land your catch in another area. You can catch your limit in one area and then continue to fish in a different area if it has a higher limit. However your total catch CANNOT exceed the highest area limit. For example, if you catch one fish in Area 9 (the limit in 2014) you can continue to fish in Area 6 for a second fish. See Washington Administrative Code section 220-56-155 and related entries.

NEW 2014: Q: Does the 200 yard exclusion boundary around Protection Island bar fishing at Diamond Point?

A: The exclusion zone around Protection Island is a Federal rule. Be sure you are aware of official rules affecting fishing in this area! Protection Island is around a mile offshore, so there is plenty of room near Diamond Point.

NEW 2014: Q: “Daylight” seems ambiguous. Does fishing start at local dawn, or some other time?

A: Sorry if this wasn’t clear. (We’re not trying to be super-scientific about this.) Fishing starts at local dawn. Many people are already out on the water by then, of course, since it takes a while to launch your boat and get where you want to fish. The main point is: Our volunteers try to be at the launch ramps by dawn on Saturday (8AM Sunday and Monday) and try to be ready to weigh in fish at that time.

NEW 2013: Q: Are two poles permitted?

A: State fishing regs prohibit use of more than one pole at a time when fishing for Chinook salmon within our derby’s fishing areas (6, 7, and 9). You can bring more than one pole, of course; but each license holder can only fish one pole at a time. (Our rules originally said “one pole per person” but we meant “one pole in the water per person.”) Also, each person in the boat (not each pole in the boat!) needs a fishing ticket.

Q: There was confusion in 2011 about Area 9 boundaries. What’s the deal this year?

A: We created a muddle in 2011 in a last minute rule change that tried to accommodate eastsiders fishing the derby. After much discussion in 2012, and continuing today, the derby association restored the original derby boundaries (the line from Double Bluff to Foulweather Bluff to Tala Point). We’re sorry that, by trying to be inclusive in 2011, we created unnecessary problems. We will be more careful about last-minute changes in future!

Questions about tickets

NEW 2013: Q: When and where do I pickup my tickets bought on-line?

A: When you buy a ticket on-line, you will pick up your ticket during the derby at one of the launch ramps. When you buy your ticket, you select one of the launch ramps as the location for collecting your ticket. All five launch ramps are available (Port Townsend, Gardiner, John Wayne Marina, Ediz Hook, Freshwater Bay). Your ticket(s) will be waiting at the ramp when you put your boat in, during Derby weigh station hours. If you want to put in before sun-up, or if you’ll be launching from somewhere else and want to collect your ticket by water, contact us and we’ll work something out.

NEW 2013: Q: Do I need a separate ticket for each pole I bring?

A: No. Each person, not each pole, needs a ticket. Our brochure was confusing about this. We originally said “every legal pole in the boat needs a ticket” but what we meant was that every person who could put a pole in the water needs a ticket. Although state fishing regs prohibit use of more than one pole at a time when fishing for Chinook salmon within our derby’s fishing areas (6, 7, and 9), you can certainly bring more than one pole per person/ticket.

Q: I’ll be fishing on Saturday but can’t go out on Sunday. Can I transfer my ticket to somebody else DURING the derby?

A: Sorry, no. See the rules. Every person fishing the derby (in fact, every person in every boat fishing the derby) needs a separate ticket – whether fishing for one day, two days, or all three days. Many derby participants are in this situation, and only fish for one or two days. Remember that the purpose of the derby is to help fund emergency and other vital services. Your ticket fee is what makes that possible.

Q: I bought a ticket but won’t be able to use it. Can I transfer my ticket to somebody else BEFORE the derby?

A: As a rule, tickets are non-transferable (see the next FAQ entry). However, if your plans change and you can’t make it, AND you find somebody else who’d like to buy your ticket, then we will consider a transfer on a case-by-case basis. You will first need to inform us of your request in advance, preferably by email, and provide details:

  • ticket number(s)
  • complete details from the original ticket stub (name, address, etc.)
  • new details for the new person
  • reason for the transfer

As an alternative, you might be able to treat the unused ticket price as a charitable contribution (we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation); see the next question.

Q: Can I get a refund if I can’t use my tickets?

A: Sorry, no. We realize that sometimes emergencies, equipment problems, illness, weather, or other developments can make it impossible for you to go out fishing during the derby. However, if we started offering refunds, this would create an enormous headache for the association. We rely on every ticket sold as part of our fundraising effort, and also to cover the cost of the long prize list. If you can find somebody else to buy your ticket from you, we might consider a transfer; this will be on a case-by-case basis; see the previous FAQ entry. (If you are unable to go fishing, you can probably take the ticket cost as a charitable donation to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation; check with your accountant or financial advisor.)

Q: Can I buy tickets at a launch ramp on Sunday or Monday?

A: Sorry, no. Tickets are available at launch ramps ONLY on Saturday. Consider buying tickets online or from one of the many area merchants.

Q: I’m worried about not being able to get a ticket at the boat ramp on Saturday. Can I reserve a ticket? Or if a particular launch ramp runs out, can you sell me a ticket from a different launch ramp?

A: Sorry, no. Tickets are available on a first-come/first-served basis. Tickets can be purchased in advance throughout the region. We hope that some tickets will be available at all launch ramps on Saturday morning. However, if one location runs out, it will be your decision whether to drive to a different ramp to try to get a ticket there. This is the whole point of a derby with “limited tickets”!

Questions about submitting fish

Q: I’m not clear on whether we must launch and return from the 5 launches or just check the fish there? If my boat is moored or at a private site must I launch from one of these 5?

A: You can launch anywhere you like (or just jump in the water for all we care). The weigh stations are located at those five ramps for convenience. Reminder: You must bring fish by boat over water to the weigh stations – no driving them in your car (or flying in Alaskan salmon! – not that anybody on the Peninsula would do that; we’re all too nice and honest here).

Q: Should fish be cleaned before submitting them?

A: Not necessary! Present your whole intact fish for inspection and weighing – that way it will have the best weight! You can then clean your fish and bring it home, or vice versa. (Some anglers decide to donate their fish to the Salmon Derby Appreciation Dinner.)

Q: How do I submit fish from a really big boat (50 feet)?

A: If you can’t easily get your boat up to the weigh station, you still have options. First, at some locations there’s plenty of room, e.g. Ediz Hook has docks in the water now that are plenty long and deep for a 50-footer. At Freshwater Bay, the tides are going to be reasonable, and a volunteer will be working the weigh station who can wade out to retrieve a fish. Be sure to let any weigh station know if you will be bringing a fish in with huge boat, so they can coordinate weighing. The derby channel is 68 VHF.

Q: Can somebody submit fish other than Chinook salmon?

A: Sorry, no. See the rules. This is a Blackmouth Chinook derby.

Q: Why aren’t you collecting fish?

A: Collecting fish takes time, reduces the quality of your fish, creates storage and collection problems, and makes a mess of the awards ceremony. Instead, you submit fish simply by having your fish weighed and recorded. We also plan to photograph most fish.

Q: How are fish submitted?

A: Go to the weigh station, hang your fish on the scale, agree on the weight, and provide the necessary data (ticket number, name, hometown, and catch area). The fish will be examined, marked, and returned to you. Fish are subject to detailed inspection at the discretion of derby officials.

Q: What prevents somebody from submitting the same fish more than once?

A: Fish will be marked in a way we can clearly recognize at the time they are submitted.

Q: What prevents somebody from submitting a frozen/weighted/cheating fish?

A: That kind of blatant cheating would be very unlikely among salmon fishers. (Lying, yes. Cheating, no.) Derby fish are subject to inspection by derby volunteers, fish biologists, and other officials. If there is any concern about a particular fish, it will be cleaned and examined in detail. Violations could be considered attempted fraud, and would be taken very seriously by the derby and by area law enforcement. We do not expect any problems.

Q: I am very disappointed about the “clipped fin” requirement. As you know, portions of the derby area allow for retention of unclipped fish…. You could allow for ANY legally caught salmon without disqualifying a potential winning fish…. You don’t need to be acting as fish cops….

A: The ‘clipped fin’ issue is complex. Most years, there are some hard feelings expressed about this rule. There are indeed areas where wild fish can still be legally caught. However, the ‘clipped fin only’ decision was made several years ago (in our predecessor event, the Discovery Bay Salmon Derby) for several reasons.

  • We are living in a period with threatened wild salmon stocks. Some people feel that all fishing derbies, which try to catch as many fish as possible in a short period, are by definition basically anti-sustainable – they more or less encourage overfishing. It’s hard to argue with that position. We have volunteers and sponsors who would not be involved with this event if it were thinning wild stocks. By limiting the derby to hatchery fish, we are helping to support the hatchery concept – and the goal of a year-round sustainable fishery.
  • At the time this decision was made, in 2006, we were reviewing a derby year in which only nineteen fish – 19 – were submitted despite over 600 tickets being sold. We were very concerned about the direction the salmon fishery was going, and ‘clipped fin’ seemed the way of the future. State rules are increasingly restrictive on taking wild salmon. We are pleased that, in selective fishery derbies since that bad year, submissions have increased by orders of magnitude.
  • The derby association wanted a “level playing field” – we thought it would be more fair, and more simple, if everybody were fishing to the same basic rules.
  • We were concerned about creating a situation where people might be encouraged to take an illegal wild fish from one catch area into a different area where it would be legal. A lot of money is involved.

We definitely understand the frustration that would result from catching a big legal wild fish that can’t be submitted. It’s basically the same frustration when you catch a wild fish in a “selective fishery” area. No matter which way the decision were made, some people would be unhappy about it.But these are the rules, and they reflect a lot of thinking and discussion by a lot of serious salmon fishers.

Q: If I catch a large legal wild salmon, can I at least enter it for a “Mystery Fish” prize?

A: Sorry, no. A wild fish cannot be submitted and is NOT eligible for a mystery fish prize. Whichever way we decided to make this rule, some people would be unhappy. In the end, the decision was made to support sustainable fishery and protect wild stocks. At least, if you catch a legal 25 lb. wild salmon, you’ll be taking home a fantastic fish.

Q: Does the entire fin have to have been clipped off cleanly? What if there’s a bit still there?

A: According to state rules, a partially-clipped fin counts as a clipped fin. This apparently happens sometimes in the hatchery.

Questions about prizes

Q: Do I have to take whatever prize is assigned to my fish rank?

A: Not necessary! See the discussion of prizes. If you are present at the awards ceremony, you can pick your prize from those not yet awarded. If you or a representative is not present (and provided you supply us with accurate contact information), we will send you the next highest-value prize that can be easily mailed (check, gift certificate, etc.).)

Q: What happens if a fish appears at the wrong rank, either because it is weighed wrong or some other mistake is made? Can I get the prize I should have been awarded?

A: If you observe a problem, let a derby official know before or during the awards ceremony. We will try to correct errors in a fair manner. However, once made, prize awards are final. All such decisions are at the discretion of derby officials. Please remember that we are all volunteers doing our best.

Q: What happens if somebody breaks the rules or the law? Are they disqualified from winning a prize?

A: Derby officials have final determination in all such matters. We will consider events as they occur, without using a “one size fits all” policy. In general, violations of the rules or the law will be taken very seriously, and we will not allow somebody to profit from doing so. However the derby is not a law enforcement body, and cannot act as police, judge, or jury, particularly in legal matters. If you observe a problem, let a derby official or enforcement officer know as soon as possible so that we can act in a timely manner.

Questions about the derby as a nonprofit event

Q: What happens with derby funds?

A: Gardiner Salmon Derby Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. All of our net proceeds support area emergency services and other worthwhile purposes. See our “about page” for more details.

Q: What was done with proceeds from the 2011 derby?

A: The 2011 Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby was a great success. 760 tickets were sold, and $24,032 in prizes were distributed. The event yielded a net income (after paying for prizes, printing, and other expenses) of $6,371.88. Since this was the first event run by the new Gardiner Salmon Derby Association, this money was not immediately distributed, but held for donation at a later time – in fact, this year. These funds will cover part of the cost of the new ~$10K Thermal Imaging Camera being purchased for use by the Diamond Point volunteer fire station. This presentation is expected to occur at the 2012 annual derby appreciation dinner.

Q: Why don’t you immediately distribute all the funds you take in?

A: As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, Gardiner Salmon Derby Association must carefully safeguard its funds. We must choose appropriate uses for the funds; and we must be sure that we can keep generating new funds each year.

To run an annual derby, our first challenge is to have enough reserve assets on hand to run the next year’s derby, and to cover various contingencies. (For example, in a past year, a change in state rules required that we cancel the derby at the last minute, when the salmon season dates changed. Another risk would be a weather emergency that made fishing impossible.) We need to be able to survive unexpected events, and we also need to cover our basic annual legal, compliance, and other responsibilities. As an all-volunteer organization, our only costs are those that relate either to the annual fishing derby (printing, supplies, advertising, etc.) or to our ongoing operations as a nonprofit corporation under federal and state law (filing, insurance, accounting fees, etc.).

After we set aside funds to cover the next year’s derby and our necessary fees and costs, everything else is available for donation in accordance with our charter. We look carefully for ways to use these funds that will have a strong impact on area safety, security, and quality of life. A good example is the ~$10K Thermal Imaging Camera that we will be funding in 2012 for use by Diamond Point volunteer fire station. This is a piece of equipment that the station wasn’t in a position to obtain, and which could save local lives and property. This is the kind of tangible donation that can make a real impact. (The Association membership thinks earmarked donations for out-of-the-ordinary purchases are a much better use for derby funds than adding to a department’s operating cash, which is already managed through a complex budget process. We look for important needs that are outside the budget.) You’ll be able to see how this plays out over the coming years.