Paul McAbee found the 16th Annual Roche Harbor Salmon Classic extra sweet after hooking the first- and fourth-place fish January 18 and 19.
Paul McAbee of Bellingham, holding fish, hooked the first- and fourth-place chinooks in the 2019 Roche Harbor Salmon Classic, January 18-19. His fishing partners are, from left, Dale Nelsen, Jed Buchholz and Ace Ward. Matt Pranger photo
“We’ve fished all sixteen years and we finally made it,” McAbee said of the winning king. “That’s one of the biggest blackmouths I’ve ever caught.”
The Bellingham angler netted $12,000 for the 19-pound, 13-ounce top chinook that he hooked on the second day of the derby. He took home $2,000 for his 14.11 fourth-place king that he caught on the first day.
The top finishers, their winnings and their salmon’s weight are:
1. Paul McAbee, Bellingham $12,000 19.13
2. Michael Porter, Issaquah $5,000 17.12
3. Connor Ryan, Mount Vernon $3,000 15.10
4. Paul McAbee, Bellingham $2,000 14.11
5. Bill Shaw, Friday Harbor $1,000 14.9
Boat #23 with Captain Greg Gorder and Chuck Payne, Hugh Allen and Robbie Morris won $2,000 for the Best Boat Total Weight with 46.11 pounds. (Note this is a correction made after the announcement).
Jason Bontrager of Goodyear, Ariz. won $2,000 after his 8.11 salmon matched the Mystery Fish weight.
David Aas, Snohomish, won a Roche Harbor Resort-donated boat entry for 2020 Salmon Classic.
Seven-year-old Seth Hougen of Bellingham went home with the Youngest Angler trophy and a new fishing pole.
McAbee and his fishing partners Dale Nelsen, Bellingham, and Jed Buchholz and Ace Ward, both of Brighton, Colo., decided to share some of the winnings if their boat’s big fish finished on top of the leader board. “On the way in we decided we’d sponsor a boat next year for Salmon for Soldiers,” McAbee said. “So there will be three boats instead of two.”
Roche Harbor Resort and Island Boat Rentals sponsored the Salmon for Soldiers boats once again. Two anglers on the Salmon for Soldiers boats — Troy Hakala of Gresham, Ore. and Wayne Pong of Oregon City, Ore. — not only enjoyed a weekend of fishing, they went home a bit richer: This year the Classic’s organizers awarded $500 apiece to the top two soldier-anglers. Hakala hooked a 9.1 king and Pong caught a 7.0 chinook.
One hundred forty-eight salmon were caught by 357 anglers fishing from 100 boats.