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Salmon Derby (copy)

SEPT. 2, 2018 — Dan, left, and Don Maben joke as they clean salmon caught Saturday during the STEP Salmon Derby in Winchester Bay. The father and son team came to the derby from Tillamook, and on the first afternoon of the three-day derby, Dan's 18.8-pound Chinook was the the biggest caught in Winchester Bay.

REEDSPORT — August marks the start of fall Chinook salmon angling season on Oregon’s Umpqua River. Fall run salmon enter the Umpqua River estuary beginning their journey to their spawning streams deep in Oregon’s coastal mountains. This year the Umpqua River is one of only a few Oregon coastal rivers with unrestricted wild Chinook salmon angling. Thousands of wild Chinook are joined by over 2,000 returning STEP salmon. Their journey is fraught with a gauntlet of dangers both natural and man made. The first is 70 plus degree river water temperature.  Having spent three to four years in an ocean of mid 50 degree water the shock of hot fresh water causes the fish to linger in the lower river acclimating to the higher temperatures Good news for hopeful Umpqua River salmon anglers as these fish will readily strike lures, spinners and trolled bait.

Marking the salmon’s return Gardiner Reedsport Winchester Bay STEP holds its annual Salmon Derby over Labor Day weekend. This year’s derby is scheduled for Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. 

Derby registration tickets are on sale now: at Ace Hardware and Snowy River Mercantile in Reedsport; The Stockade Market and Salmon Harbor Tackle in Winchester Bay; and from GRWB STEP members. Tickets will cost $10 for individuals or $25 per boat ticket (3 or more anglers). Anglers also may purchase tickets each morning of the derby at the East Boat Launch in Winchester Bay and the Rainbow Plaza Boat Launch in downtown Reedsport. Derby hours are: daylight to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; daylight to noon on Monday.  

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Derby Prizes awarded by size and weight are: $500 cash prize for Derby; A daily $150 prize for the largest salmon of the day; and a $100 cash prize for the smallest legal salmon of the derby.  

The derby concludes with cash prize presentations starting at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 2, at the Winchester Bay Marina Activity Center. Raffle drawings follow and include fishing and outdoor gear donated by Sportsman’s Warehouse valued at $1,350. A $750 fishing Kayak package donated by Next Adventure, and many other prizes including guided fishing trips, gift certificates, and merchandise donated by local merchants.  

For additional information, email Umpqua.rock@charter.net or call Rick Rockholt at 541-613-0589.

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