‘500 square miles of fishing’

Sequim Gazette staff

After a one-year hiatus, the annual Presidents Weekend salmon derby is back, bigger and better than ever.

Formerly called the Gardiner Salmon Derby, the 2011 version has been renamed the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby to reflect the revamped derby’s much greater geographical reach.

Since 1973, a core group of Gardiner residents has run this annual fundraising event. Early derbies focused on the Gardiner boat ramp but expanded in recent years to additional ramps in Port Townsend and Sequim. This year the event is open to fishing from Tongue Point in the west to Whidbey Island in the east — “over 500 square miles of fishing,” organizers say.

To make participating as convenient as possible, weigh stations will be established at five peninsula launch ramps: Freshwater Bay, Ediz Hook boat ramp (Port Angeles), John Wayne Marina (Sequim), Gardiner boat ramp and Port Townsend Boat Haven.

Dan Tatum, one of the derby’s lead organizers, said the tournament has been expanded to draw in more participants, which he hopes will give the local economy an even bigger shot in the arm. “It’s at a slow time of year,” he said.

Tatum said the volunteer corps still will be made up largely of

Gardiner and Diamond Point residents but they’ll operate more efficiently. Rather than collecting the fish at a central point, fishermen will have their catch weighed and marked at the dock and then can take them home.

A $10,000 first prize will be awarded, along with “many other great prizes donated by our generous sponsors.”

The derby will be held from Saturday, Feb. 19-Monday, Feb. 21.

For more information, see the derby’s website at

A little history

The February 2010 salmon derby was canceled because of an unresolved conflict over rights to the derby, specifically, who had the right to run future derbies. In 2009, Gardiner residents petitioned to change their emergency response district, leaving Jefferson County Fire District No. 5 to join Clallam County Fire District No. 3, with its new fire station in nearby Blyn. (Gardiner remains part of Jefferson County.)

Gardiner volunteers had expected to continue running the annual salmon derby but this was contested by Jefferson County Fire District No. 5. The matter remained unresolved in late December 2009, so the Gardiner derby committee was forced to cancel the 2010 event.



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