Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby FAQs


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General FAQs

Q: Is Area 9 part of the derby this year?

A: Yes!

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 President’s 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 County Freshwater Bay Park

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.

Sequim Bay State Park

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.

Fort Worden State Park
Old Fort Townsend State Park
Point Hudson Marina and RV Park

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

Q: When do the weigh stations close?

A: All weigh stations close at 3 PM on Friday and Saturday, 1 PM on Sunday. You need to complete fishing and get to the weigh station by that time. If you are at the dock, in line, then that counts as being there in time. If you are planing in at high-speed off the water at 3 PM, you are too late and your fish cannot be counted.

This is the only way to make it fair for everybody. Everybody needs to be at the weigh station by the end of fishing. This is how we’ve done things for 30+ years, and how most fishing derbies operate.

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 on 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 2018) you can continue to fish in Area 6 for a second fish. See Washington Administrative Code section 220-56-155 and related entries.

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.

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 (8 AM, Sunday and Monday) and try to be ready to weigh in fish at that time.

Q: Are two poles permitted?

A: State fishing regs prohibit the 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 east-siders 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 the future!