By Charles Kocher

Pilot staff writer

Competition in the new Brookings Tuna Classic fishing tournament opens Friday, July 4, and continues through Sept. 7.

The BTC, as organizers like to call it, will offer cash prizes for the three largest tuna landed during that period, as well as have drawings among all participants for other prizes.

Northwest Steelheaders is operating the tournament. The BTC proceeds will benefit steelhead and salmon enhancement projects on America's Wild Rivers Coast.

In part, the tuna derby is meant to replace some of the area fishing interest that might be lost by the cancellation of the 2008 Slam'n Salmon Derby. More than 700 fishermen registered in last year's salmon derby.

The BTC offers cash prizes for albacore and bluefin tuna.

The tuna classic registration fee is $50; the cash prizes will be based on a percentage of the registration fees. BTC participants must register before fishing, launch from and return to the Port of Brookings Harbor.

BTC headquarters will be the Chetco Outdoor Store, 16220 W. Hoffeldt Lane in Harbor. Fish can be weighed in daily through 6 p.m.

andquot;The largest one I saw last year was 40 pounds,andquot; says Dave Pitts, one of the organizers and operator of Chetco Outdoor Store.

He does not expect many landings until the offshore ocean temperatures start to reach 57 degrees.

For rules and more information about the BTC, go to www. or call Chetco Outdoor Store at 469-9151.