August 31, 2023
By Diana Zimmerman
In the last 10 years or so, Cathlamet, and the Elochoman Slough Marina in particular, has become a favored fishing destination for sports fishermen. Hoping to further promote tourism, the Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce now holds a fishing derby each spring and fall fishing season.
Last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 76 people signed up to participate in this season's Hook the Hawg fishing derby, bringing in 25 local contenders and the rest coming from out of town. The event raised about $1,800, with $1,600 going back into cash prizes. The other $200 was used to support chamber expenses.
"I thought the chamber did a great job putting on the event, and it seemed like everybody had a lot of fun all three days," Wahkiakum County Port 1 Manager Todd Souvenir said. "There was a good amount of participation and lots of fish turned in every day."
On Saturday at the awards ceremony, which was held at River Mile 38's taproom, Renee Staat took first place and $575 for her 19.9 pound fish. Mike Beuslinch won $375 for second place after hooking a 19.1 pound salmon. Norm Wurzer came in third with an 18.74 pound fish, winning $300. In fourth place was Doug Heironymus, with a 16.2 pound salmon. He took home $250. The only youth to get her fish weighed was Karly Koski. She caught a 7 pounder and $100.
Souvenir was on the receiving end of a lot of ribbing for a couple days, including from the chamber at the awards ceremony. The brave soul turned in his own catch on Thursday: 2.14 pounds.
The chamber presented him with what Chamber Tourism Director Alysse Weiler described as a life size replica of his fish. It was a bag of Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfish Crackers.
"It was bigger before I gutted it," Souvenir told the crowd, who roared with laughter.
"The event created a lot of conversations for next year," Souvenir said on Monday. "There were a lot of people I think will enter moving forward, because of how much fun they had at the awards ceremony and how much energy it created between the fishermen, that fun sense of competition."
"There were quite a few people from out of town," Weiler said. "That of course is our goal to get new people coming in, and eating at our restaurants and staying at the marina, to get that money back into the community. I think that was a success."
The biggest catch didn't happen during the fishing or the awards ceremony at the River Mile 38 taproom this weekend. It occurred a few minutes after the ceremony, just outside on the public viewing deck at the marina, where two locals, David Hicks and Deborah Disch, surrounded by friends and family, got hooked for life. When it was all over, even the people at RM 38 shared in the happiness, coming to their feet with a rousing cheer.