To decide the winner of the 2013 Bellingham Puget Sound Anglers Salmon Derby, the contest's Rule F had to be invoked.
At the close of the contest at noon Sunday, July 14, chinook salmon landed and entered by Whatcom County anglers John Ramerman and Gary Wasel sat atop the leaderboard, each listed at 30.95 pounds.
The derby's tiebreaker rule says the first fish recorded at a weight wins in the case of identical scale results. Further, if fish of identical weights are caught at the same time, a coin is tossed.
But heads and tails weren't required to find a winner here.
Ramerman's was the first salmon weighed in at 30.95 pounds, at 10:34 a.m. on Friday, the derby's first day. Wasel entered his 30.95-pound king on Saturday at 3:50 p.m.
As it turned out, more than one 30-plus pound chinook was landed Friday. Casey Ingersoll posted a chinook entry of 30.35 pounds that finished in third place.
Ramerman said he was surprised to see two fish at the same weight finishing atop a contest.
The veteran saltwater fisher from Lynden said it was just after daylight Friday morning when he hooked and landed the eventual winning salmon.
At first, when he and angling partner Chad Roberts saw the salmon alongside the boat, both thought it was in the 20-pound range, Ramerman said.
But once aboard, its bulk confirmed, the fish presented a dilemma. The first official weigh-in site opening was the Deer Harbor station at 10 a.m.
Facing several hours of potential weight loss, their only option was to put the big king on ice in a cooler to ward off shrinkage and wait.
They plied Waldron for hours more for yet another salmon as the sun rose, but off Point Disney with an estimation of running time calculated, they hauled up their gear and jetted off to the Southwest Orcas Island port, timing their arrival for the moments just after the weigh scale was hung out.
Ramerman said he fishes most salmon contests in Washington's northern inland waters and enjoys this one.
"PSA puts on a really good derby here," he said.
Of the $5,000 first-place prize, Ramerman said, "It paid off for all the other derbies I've never won."
Winner of this year's kid's division was Morgan Pease with a 20.92-pound chinook. Salmon entered by Jake Pease and Asah Faust won second and third place, respectively.
PSA Bellingham derby organizers say more than 400 anglers took part in the adult division of this year's three-day event.
A total of 231 salmon ranging from 2.82 pounds up to the 30-plus-pound trio were entered - 212 in the adult division and 19 in the kids' contest.
Seven of the 10 heaviest chinook caught in this year's derby were landed on Friday, and 25 chinook exceeded 20 pounds.
This year's derby awarded cash and prizes valued at more than $24,000, including the first through third place monies and two $500 hidden or secret weight prizes.
And contestants are not the only winners. PSA Bellingham will make donations of proceeds from this annual summer fishing contest to local salmon enhancement and restoration programs.
For more details about this year's Bellingham PSA Salmon Derby, visit the group's Web page at http://www.bellinghampsa.com/.
The club meets each third Wednesday of each month except August at Nicki's Bella Marina Restaurant, 2615 Harbor Loop Drive, Squalicum Harbor, Bellingham. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting starts at 7 p.m.
MAKE ROOM FOR TROUT
Some 22 Eastern Washington trout fishing lakes have been designated for rehabilitation by state biologists this fall and winter.
Targeted for chemical treatment intended to rid them of undesirable fish are Spectacle Lake in Okanogan County and Badger Lake in Spokane County, plus two collections of smaller seep lakes south of Potholes Reservoir.
The central Columbia Basin string of waters known as the Pillar-Widgeon chain consists of Pillar, Widgeon, Snipe, Cattail, Gadwall, Poacher, Lemna, Shoveler, Sago and Hourglass lakes.
The Hampton chain is made up of Upper and Lower Hampton lakes, Hampton Slough and Hen, Dabbler and Marie lakes, plus three small unnamed ponds.
Rotenone, an EPA approved fish and insect pesticide, will be used to kill the fish in these waters. The compound, concentrated from South American plant roots, has been used by state agencies in lake and stream fish removal projects for decades. It affects oxygen uptake in gill-respiring animals.
All of the above lakes are excellent trout-raising waters, but have been illegally seeded with large- and smallmouth bass, various sunfish, bullheads and carp that either prey on or compete with trout. The presence of large numbers of undesirable fish thwarts the strategy of planting small trout, which is the most cost-effective way of maintaining sport trout fishing opportunities.
State fisheries managers have scheduled gatherings at Ephrata, Olympia, Tonasket and Cheney to discuss rehab plans and direct public input on this project. And for a period thereafter until Friday, Aug. 23, written comments will be accepted by the agency.
Submissions on paper should be sent to Bruce Bolding in c/o Washington Department Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
If these rehabilitation proposals get the go-ahead in early September from Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson, the chemical treatments will be done in the fall and the waters will be left to stand through winter.
Restocking with rainbows and other trout of varying sizes will take place next year.
Bag and size limit regulations for these specific fishing holes could be relaxed this fall just before chemical applications, so anglers who want to may catch what's there before they're removed.
As October approaches, check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's emergency regulations Web page at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ for possible rule changes.
Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, since 1983 has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at http://pbogs.bellinghamherald.com/outdoors.
BAKER LAKE SOCKEYE FISHING BY THE NUMBERS
AS OF JULY 20
Reservoir full pool: 727.7 feet above sea level.
Current lake level trend: Steady with daily fluctuation at about 723 feet.
Expected 2012 run-size: 21,557 sockeye (to PSE Concrete trap).
Total trapped sockeye to date: 9,032 fish.
Transferred into Baker Lake: 4,620 fish.