There’s a $10,000 fish swimming in Oregon’s Coquille River, where the 2nd Annual Small Mouth Bass Derby kicks off on June 3 and runs through September 10.
Eighty smallies have been microchipped and are worth $20,000 in prizes during the event that begins on Free Fishing Weekend, June 3-4.
It adds to efforts by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Coquille Tribe to control numbers of the invasive species illegally dumped in the coastal river and believed to be “associated with the collapse of the fall Chinook runs,” per ODFW.
“No one expects the fishing derbies to eradicate bass from the river altogether,” derby organizers said in 2022. “But each bass caught is one less month devouring native salmon smolts.”
Oregon House Bill 2966, passed this year with near-unanimous support from legislators, waives wastage rules in derbies that are meant to “benefit native fish species or the ecological health of the body of water,” allowing participants to not have to make use of any bass they remove, encouraging higher catches.
ODFW again also OKed the use of spears, spear guns and bait to remove smallmouth from the Coquille, starting today and running through October 31. There is no size or bag limit.
Tickets for the bass derby are $20. Fish can be scanned for microchips at select times and locations. Other cosponsors include the Port of Coquille River, the state’s Salmon Trout Enhancement Program and 3J Ranches.