PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A small-mouth bass worth $1,000 eluded anglers on the Coquille River Saturday and Sunday and is still out there for the catching. 

The Port of Coquille River held its first Small-Mouth Bass Derby over the weekend as part of ongoing efforts to reduce the population of the invasive predators that are known to eat salmon. 

To incentivize anglers to participate, the Port of Coquille River tagged 46 fish that, if caught, could be exchanged for cash prizes. There were 20 fish worth $50 each, 10 fish worth $100, 10 fish worth $200, five fish worth $500 and one grand prize bass that could be exchanged for $1,000. Each fish has a microchip to indicate how much it’s worth. 

That grand prize fish and 39 others are still out swimming in the river and are still eligible to be exchanged for the cash prizes. 

Officials said about 200 participated in the bass fishing derby and caught more than 2,000 small-mouth bass. 

One Myrtle Point family, the Gulseths, scored two of the weekend’s prize basses. Rosie Gulseth collected $100 and 13-year-old cousin Payton Lee, who visited from Vancouver, Wash., scored a $200 catch.  

  • Port of Coquille River Smallmouth Bass Derby

Kyle O’Hara and Michaela Campbell said they could tell the fish they caught had been eating young salmon. Three of their fish spat up half-digested smolts after they’d been caught. 

“The catch put a welcome dent in the salmon-gobbling invasive predators,” the Port of Coquille wrote in a press release. “No one expects the fishing derbies to eradicate bass from the river altogether. But each bass caught is one less month devouring native salmon smolts.” 

Although the event is over, the tagged fish can still be caught and redeemed for prizes, including the fish worth $1,000. 

The second Small-Mouth Bass Derby on the Coquille River will take place Sept. 3 and 4. Admission for the event is $20. 

Fred Fry said anyone who catches a bass in the river before then should freeze it and bring it to the September derby to be scanned for a prize-winning microchip. 

The Port of Coquille River has a map on its website showing parts of the river included in the derby, where they expect the prize fish will be. 

Fry said the first event was a success and the port hopes to be even more organized before the second derby. The port is welcoming businesses to sponsor prize fish for the September event.