Anglers boarded boats, walked to the ends of docks and found cozy spots along the banks of Lake Sammamish beneath a cloudy sky this weekend for the inaugural Perch Derby.
The fishing competition gave anglers a chance to haul up as many yellow perch from the lake as they could while competing for cash prizes. The event organized by Trout Unlimited as a way to help the lake’s native kokanee salmon population, said David Kyle, project manager for the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Project.
No one knows how many of the predatory yellow perch are in the lake, but Kyle said they have a tendency to prey on the dwindling number of young kokanee in its waters. Yellow perch aren’t native to the lake and their population has exploded since they were introduced by the state as a stock fish years ago. To help encourage people to thin the fish’s ranks there is no closed season for perch fishing, and no catch limit. It also helps that perch is a great pan-fried fish.
While most fishers were on boats, the Norwick family brought their two children to fish from the dock. They used to fish more, but decided this event would be a good way to ease back into the groove.
Anglers came in from the lake for the 2 p.m. weigh in with five gallon buckets half full of large fish while others brought in dozens of smaller perch to be weighed and measured. The hauls were judged by three categories: longest fish, heaviest fish and most total fish weight.
All told, 74 fishers participated bringing in 636 fish at a total of 146 pounds and a total length of 423 feet. Jeff Stuart brought in 11 pounds of fish to snag a win for most weight caught in the adult category, while Wesley Mehta hauled up nearly 8 pounds to win the youth division. Stuart also caught the longest fish at 291 mm, while Carson Moore caught a 270 mm fish to win the youth division. Scott Cooks caught a 298 gram fish for heaviest catch among the adults, and Moore brought in the heaviest fish in the youth category.