Tag Archives: grant county public utility district

Big Catch, Turnout At 6th King Of The Reach Derby

It took five years for King of the Reach live-capture derby anglers to tally 10 million fertilized salmon eggs collected for a fall Chinook broodstock hatchery program on the mid-Columbia.

A HELPER AT KING OF THE REACH HOLDS A NICE WILD FALL CHINOOK BUCK BROUGHT IN BY ANGLERS DURING THE LIVE-CAPTURE DERBY. (VIA PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW)

The sixth edition could yield that many and change alone, thanks to the “biggest turnout ever for volunteers and fish.”

WDFW fisheries biologist Paul Hoffarth says the 648 bucks and 562 hens caught on the Hanford Reach by 277 fishermen in 77 boats and delivered to Grant County’s Priest Rapids Hatchery have the potential to produce 12,616,000 fertilized eggs, if all the male and female fish mixing is done just right.

AN ANGLER HANDS OFF A CHINOOK TO A SHORE ATTENDANT. MORE THAN 1,200 FALL SALMON WERE COLLECTED THIS YEAR, THE MOST EVER. (VIA PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW)

“Basically 100 percent of the Priest Rapids and Ringold Springs Hatchery production for next year’s release would have a wild parent,” Hoffarth says. “Real life, with holding mortality and other factors WDFW might be able to reach 70 percent of production, which is huge.”

He says that not too long ago, just 10 percent of the hatchery kings had at least one wild parent.

THE DERBY SAW GREAT FISHING THE FIRST DAY, WITH SLOWER ACTION THE FOLLOWING TWO DAYS. (VIA PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW)

The derby is a joint state-utility-Coastal Conservation Association of Washington project that uses anglers and guides to collect wild upriver brights in the Reach to improve the stock’s fitness and ensure that hatchery fish remain genetically similar to the natives in the free-flowing stretch of the Columbia.

It occurs after the fall fishing season is closed. Participants are required to register as volunteers, and boat captains need fish transporting permits and a way to haul the salmon to collection points, either in a livewell or a big cooler with a pump.

The previous five derbies saw a total of 2,111 fall kings brought in. Before this year, the most brought in was in 2015 when 510 were taken to the hatchery, according to Hoffarth.

As for the King of the Reach, that’s guide Tyler Stahl who brought in 76 kings.

Fellow guides TJ Hester and John Plugoff turned over 66 and 59, respectively.

On Facebook, CCA-Washington called the derby “nothing short of extraordinary. Loads of fish, tons of people, and fun all around.”

Rob Phillips, a columnist for the Yakima Herald, participated and shared his thoughts.

6th Annual King Of The Reach Derby Coming Up Oct. 26-28

With 10 million-plus fertilized fall Chinook eggs to their credit so far, salmon anglers, state fishery managers and a public utility district will build on their success later this month when the 6th Annual King of the Reach kicks off.

THE OSTROMS — THOR, KARL AND JACOB — WON THE SECOND ANNUAL KINGS OF THE REACH DERBY IN 2013 WITH THIS AND 51 OTHER FALL CHINOOK CAUGHT IN THE HANFORD REACH. (THOR OSTROM)

The Oct. 26-28 live-capture fishing derby collects wild upriver brights for the Grant County Public Utility District’s Priest Rapids Hatchery, improving the stock’s fitness and ensuring that hatchery fish remain genetically similar to the natives in the Hanford Reach.

Coastal Conservation Association Washington’s Tri-Cities Chapter coordinates participation, and compared to regular fishing opportunities, the event has some interesting regulations to be aware of.

It’s held after the Hanford Reach closes for the season — likely to occur sometime next week — no fishing license is required and two-poling’s OK without the endorsement. Barbless hooks must be used, though.

Participants are encouraged to preregister with CCA or on-site, and all anglers are required to register with WDFW as volunteers each day before they fish.

Boat captains need fish transporting permits plus a way to haul the salmon to the Vernita Bridge or White Bluffs launches, either in a livewell or a big cooler with a pump. After all, the goal is to get them to the hatchery alive. According to CCA, there was less than 2 percent mortality among the 511 kings brought in in 2017.

WDFW’s Paul Hoffarth, who is the brains behind the event, says that anglers have brought in a total of 2,111 fall kings, including 1,034 bucks and 1,077 hens, since the first King of the Reach was held in 2012.

Fishing effort has increased annually, from 598 angler hours that first year to 2,722 in 2017, his data shows.

While some numbers from last year have yet to be crunched, derby fish have resulted in 25 percent of the hatchery’s production having at least one natural-origin parent.

Hoffarth says that even with this year’s lower return — 38,357 based on a Sept. 30 estimate — escapement (the number of spawners) should exceeded the goal of 31,100 natural-origin adult kings.

Entry in the derby is $25 for the day or the weekend (youths age 17 or under are $15). Refreshments will be provided and prizes will be awarded to participants for the most live salmon turned in per boat per day, and for the entire event.

Last year Justin Sprengel turned in the most kings, 37.

Random prizes will be awarded as well.

Derby entries are available online at ccawashington.org/KingoftheReach and Grigg’s in Pasco, and Ranch and Home and Sportsman’s Warehouse in Kennewick.