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Small Mouth Fishing Derby

For the second year in a row, south coast anglers have the chance to catch thousands of dollars in the Coquille River. How? By dropping a line in the water and hooking a bass.

The Coquille Port Commission in coordination with Coquille STEP, ODFW, the Coquille Indian Tribe and the Bandon Port Commission is hosting the 2nd annual Small Mouth Bass Derby. 

“I know for a fact, if we can get a bunch of fishing poles out there we can wipe out the bass,” Port Commissioner Fred Fry said. And there are plenty of reasons to go out.

“We will have one fish worth $10,000, three worth $1,000 and the rest will range from $200 to $50,” Fry said. Fish from Riverton to Powers will be microchipped. 

Unlike most bass derbies, this event is not catch-and-release. Just the opposite: The whole point is to rid the river of as many small-mouth bass as possible, thereby reducing predation on salmon smolts. 

Voracious bass are unwelcome invaders in the Coquille, where various agencies and community organizations are cooperating to restore dwindling salmon populations. 

The port’s first derby, last year, removed about 3,000 bass from the river. Some became tasty dinners for anglers. The rest became crab bait. 

Organizers encourage anglers to keep every small-mouth bass they catch, no matter how small. The Coquille River has no limit on small-mouth bass, and each one is a potential money winner. The derby starts the weekend of June 3rd and 4th, “the free fishing weekend,” which means no license is required. But unlike last year, it won’t be limited to two weekends.

“We changed the format,” Fry said. “It’s going to go all summer long.” So, all summer, until it ends on the weekend of September 9th and 10th, volunteers will scan fish to see if they contain a microchip worth one of the cash prizes. 

The volunteers will be at Sturdivant Park in Coquille on Saturdays from 2 to 8 p.m. and at the Myrtle Point boat ramp on Sundays at the same time.

Contestants are encouraged to freeze their fish throughout the week and bring them in on the weekends to scan for winners. The derby costs $20 and contestants must sign up before fishing. This can be done at over-the-counter ticket sites in Charleston, Bandon, Coquille and Myrtle Point. The addresses are on the Port of Coquille’s website at www.thepocrd.com and its Facebook page.

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