REEDSPORT — Jason Lobato of Eugene caught the winning salmon, at 24 pounds, during the Gardiner, Reedsport, Winchester Bay Salmon Trout Enhancement Program's annual derby fundraiser on Labor Day weekend.
Approximately 200 fishers participated in this year's event. Rick Rockholt, public information officer for STEP, said the fishers brought in a total of 200 fish this year. He noted it's been a slow angling year for salmon all over the Oregon coast, and that the fishing could have been better. He said many rivers have been restricted to one wild Chinook salmon per day, and only five for sports anglers. The Columbia River recently closed its season for Chinook below Bonnieville Dam.
"That's why it is so important to support salmon hatcheries and the Salmon Trout Enhancement Programs," he said. "They raise fish to support commercial and recreational angling while we work on the problems facing wild salmon and steelhead."
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This year's raffle, for a "Next Adventure Kayak Package," went to 6-year-old Colton Bond. The package included a kayak, life vest and a variety of fishing equipment. According to Rockholt, he had the boat in Lake Marie within an hour of the announcement.
STEP organizers feel this year's derby went well. Rockholt said their event runs smoothly every year and noted how well it's supported by the local community. He said the only thing they're likely to try changing next year is to fine-tune some things.