C.A.S.T. for Kids Provides Special Needs Children Very Special Thrills

If you haven’t heard of this organization and the amazing charity work they provide to communities in the Puget Sound region and around the country, we’re glad you are here learning about them now.

C.A.S.T. stands for “Catch A Special Thrill” and the volunteers at this foundation and their numerous sponsors selflessly created a program where they donate an amazing amount of time and money to create unique events for special needs children.

Their mission started with a simple goal: provide both the children and their care givers opportunities to have a day of fun activities, positive experiences, and memories that last while educating them about natural resources. Their events and efforts would also help to increase awareness of disabled children in the communities where they are hosted.

The Foundation’s incredible Board of Directors and their staff include the President of the Washington State BASS Federation, an ESPN ESPY award winner, and several volunteers who have a long history of working with prominent charities.

Nearly 25 Years of Service

Founded in 1991 in Washington and headquartered in Renton, their events quickly attracted praise and interest nationally and spread to over 18 states within the first ten years. Now in their 24th year, their events span over 25 states, and the Foundation partners with the University of Washington Sociology Department for program evaluation and recommendations.

More Programs Added, and Still Growing

The early events hosted by C.A.S.T. were so successful that the Foundation began expanding their offerings in 1996 with the addition of the Fishing Kids Program. Fishing Kids helps encourage urban kids to get out of the house and off the streets to enjoy a different kind of leisure activity than they may be used to. For some, this may lead to becoming a lifelong hobby.

At the events sponsored by this program, kids receive 60 minutes of instruction by experienced anglers regarding ethics, fish ID, and safety. Parents are encouraged to participate, and the kids receive t-shirts, rods, and reels to keep.

Expansion continued in 2011 when the Foundation established the Take a Warrior Fishing program. Designed for military personnel assigned to Warrior Transition Commands and their families, the program provides support for those who make it possible for events like this to occur on U.S. soil (and waters).

The program hosts events that accommodate up to 150 families and aim to link them to local communities while providing outdoor recreation. Making both social interaction with civilians and family possible in this setting is often seen as therapeutic by the participants and the sponsors and facilitators alike.

Learn More, Get Involved, and Participate in Upcoming Events

To learn more about C.A.S.T., their many upcoming events, and how you can get involved, we encourage you to visit them at http://www.castforkids.org. They have a lot of exciting events planned, a great newsletter, and could always use additional donors and volunteers.  If you love fishing, love kids, and love supporting our veterans, there are many ways that you can make a difference by contributing to C.A.S.T.

We first learned about them from our friends at Tacoma Limousine Services in a really round about way, but that’s a long story that we’ll save for another day… Thanks for reading. You can expect to see more news about C.A.S.T. and their events here soon, so check back often!


The Pacific Northwest Salmon: Is Our Salmon Population in Trouble?

What do the population levels of our waterway’s salmon population mean for our waterways?

As it stands right now, their numbers have been dwindling for decades.

For those of you who don’t know, this is how it works for a salmon. They begin as embryos in a gravel nest, called a redd at the bottom of a freshwater stream. And here they stay until their smoltification stage, when they start migrating to the ocean. It’s during this phase that they start turning silver and growing scales. Their little fish bodies do this in order to adjust their metabolisms to the salt water.

Once in the ocean, an adult salmon will live there for one to four years. Unfortunately, it’s the largest salmon – The Chinook – which grow upwards of twenty to thirty pounds which are the most threatened. Some Chinook Salmon have been reported to grow to one hundred unbelievable pounds.

At some point during this process, adult salmon start “homing.”  They start migrating back to the stream where they were born. To do this though, they fight to swim upstream the entire way. Once in freshwater again, female salmon dig a hole in the gravel part of the river bed. In order to do this, they perform an acrobatic feat of lying against the river bed and flap their tails wildly. Once she’s finally laid her eggs, the male salmon begin fighting over who will fertilize them. Once the deed’s finally been done, she covers the eggs with a layer of gravel. At which point, both the man and the woman die. Unless you’re a Steelhead Salmon and you have the privilege of doing this multiple times.

The rotting carcasses of the now dead Salmon parents act as fertilizer for the new batch of embryos, as well as for the entire river. Animals of all sorts from Bears to foxes and eagles love to feast on these Salmon carcasses.

But here’s the Issue:

The Salmon population in the Pacific Northwest region has been experiencing a steady decline. While fluctuations in any species are expected, the decline in the Salmon population in our region can no longer be explained by the animal kingdom.

Instead, the authorities on the matter all agree that climate variability and manufactured obstacles (ie. logging industry) are the culprits.

Blame it on Mother Nature

Experts agree that it is not simply overall warmer temperatures that is causing the problem, but the more frequent fluctuations in temperature and the widening gap between lows and highs.

The issue with these fluctuations is that the rivers and streams used by the Salmon for spawning are being affected. Increased flow is causing redds to either be washed away, or be buried by more gravel. As a result, fewer and fewer new salmon are being born each year.

Climate models predict that in the coming years, storms and droughts of increasing intensity will plague the Pacific Northwest. To add insult to injury, an increased amount of rain will replace what used to be snow. This causes issues for the redds. While snow typically produces a slowly melting run off, causing the river to swell at a predictable, regular rate, rain waits for no one.

Furthermore, provided a redd isn’t washed away or buried by the onslaught caused by increased rain, these same rapid rising and falling of river levels simply make life really hard for the salmon that do hatch. Adverse conditions in their original freshwater home make their chances of getting to open seas much lower.

Many organizations have made it their mission to save the Pacific Northwest Salmon, and have spent decades engaged in studies attempting to pinpoint what is causing the salmon the most grievance. They found that since the 1950s variation in river flows have increased in 16 / 20 salmon rivers examined. Eleven of those rivers including the Skykomish, Elwha, Snoqalmie, Skokomish and Puyallup show significant increases of up to 35%. Importantly, this increased variation has occurred in light of the fact that there was no change in average winter flow.

As it stands right now, 19 species of Pacific Northwest Salmon are already on the Endangered List.

According to experts, only “swift, radical and creation” action can hope to reverse the “rapid degradation and collapse” of our salmon populations. Not only are wild salmon an important part of our culture, history and some of us, diet but:

“Wild salmon and steelhead are iconic of wildlife, of indigenous
Northwest lifestyles, of the streams they spawn in, of the ocean
they spend half their lives in. Wild Pacific salmon stand for the
Pacific Northwest.
They also stand for our present ecological
emergency, what scientists term the Sixth Great Extinction,
caused by global warming, invasive species and habitat

Problematic Human Intervention

It’s not just the climate that has wreaked havoc on salmon reproduction. It’s mankind too. There are many industries that use the same waterways that Salmon use for spawning and migration, for transportation and energy as well.

For example, splash dams  built by loggers block a streams ability to build up a force of water. This water is then released all at once, usually daily or weekly, causing huge surges of water to flow downstream all at once washing away redds. Sawmills have also been known to clog streams and rivers with sawdust.

Then come the Hatcheries. A number of practices employed by Hatcheries are being labeled as problematic.  For example, they typically have a high rate of wasted fish. This has the potential to cause near or total extinction.

What is being done?

There are many groups dedicated to improving the Northwest salmon population. Initiatives are in place to restore and reopen side channels and floodplains that provide rearing habitat for young salmon and refuge from fluctuating flows during migration.

Actions are being taken to reduce storm water runoff in ways that introduce that water more slowly to waterways.

As mentioned above, variability in season temperatures and precipitation is nothing new. That said, these variations have been consistently influencing our Salmon populations negatively.


Puget Sound Salmon Face More Ups and Downs in River Flow by Michael Milstein http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/news/features/stream_flow/index.cfm

What Can Humans Do To Save The Pacific Northwest Iconic Salmon. Priscilla Long, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-can-humans-do-save-pacific-northwests-iconic-salmon-180952769/#YFoKRAjWdPJCQTC2.99



The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby 2015

Each year the Gardiner Salmon Derby Association holds an annual Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby. While usually the event is held over President’s Day Weekend, this year it was moved to accommodate the late season opening.  This year, the derby runs from Friday, February 20th through Sunday, February 22nd.

Fishing has already stopped in the area, as of February 15th, and ticket sales end February 18th. But if you’ve missed those, come on out for the Awards Ceremony on February 22 at the Gardiner Boat launch at 3:00 pm. The Derby will take place over 500 square miles.

The Fishing area is located from Tongue Point in the west, through Freshwater Bay, Port Angeles, Sequim, Port Townsend, Port Hadlock, Marrowstone Island, Port Ludlow to Whidbey Island in the East, and North past Smith Island to Hein Bank.

Derby Prizes!

Throughout the location, there are five weigh stations, and for the largest fish, there is a $10,000 prize!

But fear not! Even if you don’t catch the biggest fish, there’s likely a prize in it for you. After all, what’s a derby without the Prizes, and this one has that covered. In total there are 46 prizes (42 ladder prizes and 4 bonus ones) worth $21,467. For the full list of prizes, visit their website (link at end of article). Many prizes have been donated in memory of loved ones. So be respectful, folks.

History of The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby

The Salmon Derby takes place over a large area – from west of Port Angeles to Whidbey Island – but it is centred around Gardiner Washington.  For those of you who don’t know, Gardiner is in Jefferson County near the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.  You may also recognize the area as Discovery Bay which becomes the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby – formerly the Discovery Bay Salmon Derby – was first held under it’s new jurisdiction in February 2011. The first ever derby was held in 1973 where it ran continuously until 1998. A series of legal disputes lead to the Discovery Bay Salmon Derby becoming the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby. The folks at The Gardiner Salmon Derby worked tirelessly for years to reinstate the Salmon Derby. It’s not a wonder it’s such a success every year!

The Salmon Derby is a non-profit event. The funds raised support emergency and other social services that benefit the community! Each year, the organizers of this event put considerable thought into allocating the proceeds from this event. Throughout the planning phase, area residents are invited to participate in the decision making process.

In 2011, after expenses, the Derby made $6,371.88. Combined with the 2012 net income it was used to purchase a $10,000+ Thermal Imaging Camera that will be used by the Diamond Point volunteer Fire Station.

2014 Derby Winners

2014’s Salmon Derby took place in horrific weather conditions, featuring gusts of wind up to 50 mph. The average weight was 8.6 pounds with 171 fish weighing in over 6 pounds. Compare that to 2013 where 249 fish being reeled in. 2014’s first place winner was Larry Quesnell of Mt. Vernon with his 15.4 pound Hatchery Chinook. Coming in at second place was Jay Campbell of Port Townsend (15.25 pound) followed by Geoffrey Cobb of Port Angeles with a 14.25 pound catch.

Rules, Rules, Rules

As with any Derby, there are rules. In the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby only legal clipped fin Chinook / Blackmouth Salmon at least 22 inches long are eligible for prizes. In the “Mystery Fish” category, entries must weigh a minimum of 6 pounds. Only those fish that have been transported by water to the weighing station will qualify. Furthermore, all fish will be returned immediately unless you choose to donate your fish to the annual Derby Appreciation Dinner. Entrants may win more than one prize, as long as your ticket is valid – so good luck!

Chinook Salmon and The Salmon Run

Salmon, which is the name given to several species of fish in the Salmonidae Family are anadromous. They are born in freshwater, and migrate to the ocean. Then they return to freshwater to reproduce in the famous Salmon Run. Some species within the Salmon family stay in freshwater their entire lives.

According to Folklore, Salmon actually revisit the exact spot where they were born to spawn. Remarkably, many studies tracking the migration of Salmon have proved this to be accurate. Their ability to return to their place of origin is based on the olfactory memory. In British Columbia, Chinook Salmon – the same ones being caught for this Derby – are also known in the United States as “King Salmon” or “Blackmouth Salmon.”  Chinook Salmon over 30 pounds, are referred to as Tyee, where at one point “June Hogs” meant the same thing. Chinook Salmon have been found as far north as the Mackenzie River and Kugluktuk in the Canadian arctic, and as far south as the Central California Coast.

Chinook Salmon are known to travel over 900 miles (1,400km) and climb an overall 7,000 feet from the Pacific Ocean to return to spawn. Most salmon spend upwards of five years in the open ocean coming to full maturity.

Over the past several years, the world population of wild salmon has decreased significantly. Not only does this have ramifications within marine culture, it has also caused increased competition in wild Salmon fisheries. While Northern Alaska Salmon populations are remaining strong, those in Atlantic North America are in more trouble. Commercial Salmon fisheries in California have significantly reduced their intake in the past several years to accommodate for lower Salmon populations in their areas.

I’m not reading all that!

When: Friday February 20 – Sunday February 22

Tickets: Available until February 18th, not available on the docks.

Award Ceremony: February 22, 3:00 pm at the Gardiner Boat Launch.

Prizes: $10,000 first prize, and many other great prizes

For more information, visit their website: http://gardinersalmonderby.org/




Welcome everyone.  Glad to have you here, and hope you continue to stop by!

So what can you expect?  News, Stories, Reviews, and Heads Up about fishing in the Pacific Northwest and beyond!

So what does that mean, exactly?

It means that we live in the PNW and love fishing here.  So naturally our main focus will be everything fishing related in the area.  And this includes the health of our local populations and the environment.

But if we just focused on that, it would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it?

It would.  So expect us to get a little off topic once in a while, or post about fishing somewhere crazy, like, maybe a desert half way around the world?!

Event info, news, and stories are organized topically.  Check the navigation bar at the top of the page and dig in!