Salmon Tales is a celebration of salmon and the people who fish for them out of Westport. The inaugural event Saturday will be a blend of history and fishing.
“We’re trying to redub Westport the salmon capital of the world,” said Mike Coverdale, founder of the event. “It dawned on me that we celebrate just about everything here, but we don’t talk about salmon. This town was kind of founded on salmon fishing.”
Back in the 1960s and ’70’s, Westport was home to nearly 300 charter boats.
“We literally had 3,000-5,000 people show up every day at 6 a.m. to go fishing,” Coverdale said. “Generations of families grew up with the tradition of heading to Westport on a salmon fishing adventure.”
Changes in seasons and regulations, and declines in salmon population, led the fleet to shrink to nearly 40 boats today. Those that remained have branched out to include bottom, halibut and tuna fishing, as well as whale watching, to expand their seasons.
“For many, the ‘good old days’ in the Salmon Capital of the World were over. We even stopped calling ourselves that,” Coverdale said.
“I was driving around town one day and decided it was time we celebrated salmon and all it means to our community. This festival is a combination of the salmon opportunities of today and a look back at the sport fishing history of Westport to recognize the people, boats and businesses that were a part of it all.”
For people who want to fish, there are plenty of opportunities, and a chance to earn some cash for landing a big salmon. The ocean salmon fishery will be open through Sept. 23. The Westport Charter Association holds a season-long derby.
On the day of the festival, there also will be a derby run by Horns and Hooks magazine on the Chehalis River. The Northwest Kayak Anglers Association is holding a derby on the Johns River. Finally, the 2012’s Boat Basin Salmon Derby will be in full swing, with fishing for coho right in the Westport boat basin.
Where: Westport Maritime Museum, 2201 Westhaven Dr., Westport
Event highlights: The hub of the festival will be on the grounds of the museum and include vendors, live music and a beer garden by the new Westport Brewing Co. There will be salmon art, wood carving, life cycle displays and more in the exhibitor area. There also will be a smoked salmon contest and area restaurants will feature signature salmon dishes.
Charter boat bingo: Visitors can purchase a bingo card and then visit the listed area businesses to locate each boat icon. Place the name of the charter boats in the appropriate spaces on your bingo card. For every bingo you achieve, you will be entered into the drawing for one of more than 20 salmon fishing charter trips.
Information: Go to salmontales.info or contact Coverdale at email@example.com@thenewstribune.com 253-597-8640 blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure