Slam’n Salmon derby begins Friday

August 28, 2012 08:17 pm


Washington resident Mary Ann Silversten holds a 25.7-pound salmon she caught on opening day of last year’s derby. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
Washington resident Mary Ann Silversten holds a 25.7-pound salmon she caught on opening day of last year’s derby. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
With more than 250 fishermen preregistered and an additional 300 expected to register on the day of the 2012 Slam’n Salmon Derby is expected to be a great weekend, according to event coordinator Tawndy Davidson.

“We’re hoping for great weather and great fishing for the weekend,” she said.



Port of Brookings Harbor Director Ted Fitzgerald agreed.

“The weather is looking really good for fishing,” he said.

The derby has drawn fishermen from all over the world in previous years and so far this year is drawing fishermen from all over the Northwest and California.

“We’ve got fishermen from Idaho, California, Washington and Oregon registered,” Davidson said. “But with preregistration open until Thursday afternoon, we won’t know until then where everyone is from.”

The derby is in its ninth year with all but the 2008 derby resulting in fish caught. 

The 2008 derby was held as a non-fishing event due to the closing of the Chinook salmon season by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The derby originated as the brainchild of two men, Jim Relaford and Leroy Blodgett in 2003 and in the first year, 113 fishermen participated.

The derby grew to include close to 800 fishermen in 2006 and 2007 before, many say, dwindling because of the 2008 closure.

In 2010, Relaford and Blodgett turned the derby over to a derby board and the port for the first time in seven years.

2012 marks the second year that the derby has been run solely by the Port of Brookings Harbor and the first year that Davidson and her co-worker Jean Day have been in charge. 

“It’s been hard,” Davidson said. “We were hired as the marketing and event coordinators for the Port in March and so we haven’t had much time to put this together. Normally you start looking for sponsors a year in advance.”

Davidson credits Relaford and past-years’ volunteers for making this year particularly easy.

“Jim ran a successful derby for so many years that we just pick his brain,” she said. “Jim has been a huge help and so have the volunteers from past derbies.”

The derby attracts a number of sponsors and vendors, including Englund Marine and Industrial Supply in Crescent City and Bechhold and Sons Flasher and Lure Company which will have three sales sites at the derby to provide fishermen with lures and tackle, according to Davidson.

In past years the heaviest fish has weighed in anywhere from the mid-20 pound range to the heaviest weight of 44.1 pounds in 2006 caught by Ken Tanksley who took home the top prize.

The winning fish in 2011 weighed only 27.2 pounds marking the lightest winner in derby history. That fish was caught by Shaun Hoback of Grants Pass who walked away with the top prize and a gold ring by Harbrook Jewelers.

“I’d really like to see the Port give away some of the instant cash prizes for fish over 50 pounds,” Davidson said when asked to predict the weight of the 2012 winning fish. “It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been able to give them away, so I’d like to give some away this weekend.”

Fishermen qualify for an instant prize of $50 if they catch a fish weighing 40-50 pounds, and $100 if they catch a fish over 50 pounds.

The derby is set to begin at first light on Friday morning with the weigh station opening at 8 a.m. and closing each day at 4 p.m. Fishermen are required to be in line at the weigh station by 4 p.m. to enter any fish caught that day in the derby.

The derby will conclude Sunday afternoon with an early weigh station closing of 3 p.m. and a salmon barbecue that begins at the same time.

Look to Saturday’s edition of the Pilot for early leaders in the race to catch the biggest fish.

More information on the derby can be found at the Port’s website, or the derby’s website,