Friday, March 4, 2011

Chimacum Alumni Derby Winners

7/21/2010 6:00:00 AMHundreds of boats turn out for summer chinook seasonNathan Lea wins CHS Alumni Association salmon derby
Bob Eldridge, CHS Class of 1977, was glad to get on the water to support a salmon derby raising scholarship money for his alma mater. This 25-9 fish was good for second place. Photo by Billy Eldridge
Nathan Lea, 22, has been fishing local waters since he was just a kid. The Chimacum High School Class of 2006 alum, with this 26-pound, 3-ounce hatchery salmon, won the first-ever CHS Alumni Association derby. Photo by Billy Eldridge
CHS Alumni Association Salmon Derby Prize Ladder
Fish weight
Nathan Lea
Bob Eldridge
Phil Waaga
Ray Bailey
Jared Thacker
Adam Newman
Stan Lea
George Balaski
Kevin Rice
Mike Thacker
By Patrick J. Sullivan of the LeaderChimacum High School alums fittingly placed first and second in the new salmon derby to raise scholarship money for that school's alumni association.
The derby coincided with the first few days of the state's selective fishery for hatchery chinook in Marine Areas 9 and 10. An estimated 300 small fishing boats were on the water off Port Townsend July 16-18, with a two-chinook daily limit.
The hottest day initially was the opener last Friday. Washington State Fish and Wildlife biologists recorded 31 salmon on the first 31 boats they checked using the Port of Port Townsend boat ramp on July 16.
But excessively foggy mornings since then have made finding the "bite" a bit more difficult. Some fishermen could not even find Midchannel Bank in the fog, let alone find any salmon.
Nathan Lea and his fishing partners knew where they were going, and came up with three of the 10 fish on the inaugural Chimacum High School Alumni Association Salmon Derby.
Billy Eldridge, CHS Class of 2002 and Alumni Association president, came up with the salmon derby as a scholarship fundraiser. He needed to sell at least 80 tickets to break even. Ticket sales were strong for the first-year derby: 144 adult tickets and 18 for kids (free to ages 17 and younger).
He announced to the crowd Sunday at the derby awards that $1,500 was raised for scholarships.
"For sure we're doing the derby next year, as long as there's a salmon season," Eldridge said.

Derby winners
While fishing was hot on the season's opening day, the catch rate plummeted Saturday and Sunday (which some anglers say is OK, because no one wanted the quota to be used up too early in the season). The derby had only 14 fish entered Saturday and seven more on Sunday.
Nathan Lea, 22, is home in Port Ludlow this summer from college. The CHS grad (class of 2006) fishes every chance he can with his dad, Stan, and often with Bob Eldridge, CHS class of 1977.
Saturday, the trio was in Midchannel Bank mooching cut plug herring on a long leader. "Gotta keep it simple," Nathan Lea said on the fishing lesson learned from his dad.
They were fishing in 95 feet of water about 7:30 a.m. in the thick fog.
"When it hit it took the rod down. I set up on it and it was not budging at all," Nathan recalled of his prize-winning catch. "It came right up the boat and then bolted straight down. It took about five minutes and I had it in the boat."
They knew it was a potential $1,000 cash prize-winner, but still stayed out a few hours more to fish – risking that his catch would lose weight in the meantime before weighing-in at derby headquarters at Port Hadlock Marina.
"The bite was happening," Nathan said. "When you get that bite going you don't want to leave. You want the potential to catch another fish."
Sunday, the trio went out again and the other two men got on the leader board. Bob Eldridge caught a 25-9 fish that placed second overall and won $500, and Stan placed seventh with a fish weighing 19-3.
Eldridge was using eight ounces of cut plug herring at 100 feet. Eldridge has been in the derby winner's circle before, winning the Discovery Bay Salmon Derby in 1991 and the Port Townsend Salmon Derby in 1996.
"This is the first time I've fished out here in the summer since '96," Eldridge said. He and Stan Lea often go to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Columbia River or Oregon Coast for fishing.
When he got the fish aboard Sunday morning, "I thought it was bigger than [Nathan's] when I got it in the boat," Eldridge said.
"I was sweating it out when he got that fish in," Nathan said of Bob’s catch. "I knew it was going to be close."
Stan Lea has previously caught a 30-pound hatchery fish and a 32-pound wild salmon. He's glad fishermen had some success the first few days of this hatchery chinook season.
"Friday was the hot day," Stan said of the season's opening weekend. "Saturday the bite was at 7, 7:30 and it picked up red hot again about 2 in the afternoon. Sunday, it went off about 7:30 and then picked up at 9:30."
Phil Waaga of Port Hadlock has fished local waters for 40 years, and had success when he fished in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard salmon derbies. He placed third in the CHS alumni derby with a 25-0 chinook he caught Sunday morning while mooching herring in Midchannel Bank in about 100 feet of water.
"I knew it was a salmon. I caught some dogfish earlier when I was down rigging and we switched to herring," Waaga said.
He was happy to support the new fishing derby. "I think it'll be a good derby. Hopefully it'll double in size."
And the veteran angler is also happy with the WDFW hatchery chinook season that has returned summer salmon fishing to places like Admiralty Inlet. There are no recreational fishing seasons directed at wild salmon.
"I hope they can keep it up to give us some fish in the summertime. It's good for the community," Waaga said.
The derby prize ladder went 10 deep, plus six prizes for kids. Since none of the kids entered caught a fish, those awards were done through the draw of a hat. One young boy who won a bicycle was told by his dad, "This makes it worth getting up at 3:30 in the morning."
Derby sponsors were Hadlock Building Supply, Just Ask Rental, Westside Marine, Four Corners Store, LPL Financial Services and Eldridge Homes, Inc. Frank Mason ran the fish ladder and Greg Brook checked and weighed the fish.

Chimacum Alumni Band

All students who played a instrument are welcome to come join the Chimacum Alumni Band --- we play at a few things a year and have lots of laughs and fun.

Our next event will be playing in the Hadlock Day's parade. Let someone know if your interested, can respond here to the alumni email or call Becky Lopeman Fernandes 360 385-0823 for more information.