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Slam'n Salmon Derby a GO!

On Oregon Waters by Larry Ellis, author badge,

ere's an important notice to all ye salmon warriors of the salt. The Slam'n Salmon Ocean Derby that takes place every year on Labor Day Weekend outside the Port of Brookings Harbor is still definitely going to be happening this coming week and into the following weekend, and anglers can start picking up their badges at the Derby Headquarters at the Port of Brookings Boardwalk this coming Thursday.

Here's a brief rundown of the popular tournament. The derby will start on Friday, September 4, and will continue Saturday, September 5 and Sunday, September 6. The weigh station opens at 8:00 a.m. on all three days. All anglers must be in line with their fish by 4:00 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday, but on Sunday, they must be in line with their fish by 3:00 p.m..

The entry fee is $50.00 per person, which includes one ticket for a salmon barbeque which takes place starting at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Extra tickets are only $10.00 per person. Hundreds of people come to this event just for the spectacular salmon barbeque.

"The amount of entrants is a lot lower than in previous years," says Danielle Shepard from the Port of Brookings Harbor. "Right now

(Thursday) we've registered about 215 anglers in the derby, but we expect that to double during the day of registration."

Only Chinook caught in the ocean are eligible. Over $10,000 will be given away in cash prizes alone, and several thousand dollars in tackle and miscellaneous gear will be given away as well.

The person with the largest Chinook by weight will win $6,000.00 in cash, a gold ring and a beautiful carving of a salmon. The second-largest fish earns the winner $2,500.00 in cash and the third-largest salmon will drop $1,000.00 in cash into the pocket of the runnerup. More daily cash awards will be given away as well.

Daniel Cropper from Talent, Oregon caught this 30-pound Chinook while trolling a spinnerbait/anchovy rig in the Rogue Bay, photo by Larry Ellis
Daniel Cropper from Talent, Oregon caught this 30-pound Chinook while trolling a spinnerbait/anchovy rig in the Rogue Bay on Wednesday while fishing with guide Gene Garner if Gene Garner Guide Service. All photos by the author

The prime question that is running through the minds of this year's derby entrants is, "Where will all the salmon be?" After all, this has been a remarkably-poor year for ocean salmon buffs.

But September is the month when a few Chetco fish will start poking their noses into various local rivers, and it is also a good month to catch incoming Rogue River Chinook as well. So this year's advice is to troll around the perimeter of the kelp beds, but do not give up on fishing in 120 feet of water just outside the port's jaws through Chetco Point, an area that has been dubbed "Salmon Alley." I would be prepared to fish 100 feet on-the-wire in this area.

Rogue Bay still hot
Anglers are still continuing to catch Chinook ranging from 10 to 35 pounds while trolling spinnerbait/anchovy rigs in the Rogue bay.

A group of anglers scored royally on big Chinook salmon while trolling the Rogue bay with guide Gene Garner last week.
When trolling the Rogue estuary, paying attention to subtle nuances will put the odds of catching one of these esteemed food fish and highly-prized fighters in your favor.

It all starts with rigging up your anchovy properly
Assuming you have a Rogue Bait Rig or spinnerbait/anchovy rig handy, you will first want to hook the front number 1 sliding hook through the bait's head. You do this by sticking the hook point from the middle of the baitfish's lower jaw so that it goes up and out through the very center of the anchovy's head, which just happens to be the hardest part of the anchovy.

I also like to take a pair of pliers and bend the end of the hook so that the hook point is nice and straight, or perpendicular to the hook shank.

This procedure facilitates the front hook hooking process - no misses this way!

The second and most important thing to remember is that your anchovy absolutely must be spinning like a drill bit. This is done by adjusting the tension of the anchovy so that it has a slight bend to it - not a side-to-side bend, but more of a porpoise-type up-and-down curvature, so that the anchovy's head and tail are even with each other, but the back is higher than the head and tail.

Before I stick the back treble hook into the anchovy, and after I have pulled the back loop through the bait, I first will bend the anchovy so that it will already be pre-shaped. This procedure is best done by using a semi-frozen anchovy, about the consistency of a popsicle. And keep your anchovies on ice with a little salt added to the ice to keep your baits nice and cold.

Now insert the loop into the eye of your number 2 treble hook, and line up the shank so that it will slide right into the fish's exit hole in one easy motion.

At this juncture, you will take one of the treble hook's points and stick it into the upper side of the anchovy, feeling for the fish's backbone - very important! Once you have felt that the hook point has met the backbone - STOP! You can now adjust the bend of your anchovy by means of the top sliding hook.

Most anglers do not go to the trouble of rigging up an anchovy in this manner, but once it becomes second nature, you can start counting fish before your rod goes down.

Tight lines!

Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the weekly fishing columnist for "On the Water" for the Curry Coastal Pilot Newspaper. He particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise. Posted with permission of the Curry Coastal Pilot of Brookings, Oregon.

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