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Wishin’ for good fishin’

Maxine Hawkins of Bremerton won both the daily and overall grand prize at the Westport Fishing Derby, a total of $1,700, for having the largest catch of silver salmon at 15 pounds, 5 ounces. - Courtesy Photo
Maxine Hawkins of Bremerton won both the daily and overall grand prize at the Westport Fishing Derby, a total of $1,700, for having the largest catch of silver salmon at 15 pounds, 5 ounces.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Maxine Hawkins, who has been fishing since she was a child, cashed in on her favorite hobby to the tune of $1,700.

“In my book, fishing comes first,” she said with a smile. “My first fishin’ pole was a limb off a tree and the hook was a safety pin ... it’s been many years.”

An avid angler in Washington and Alaska, the 78-year-old former Pocatello, Idaho resident is no stranger to the large creatures that lurk in the Puget Sound and coastal waters. One of her largest catches includes a 60-pound king salmon hooked on the Kenai River in Alaska.

Hawkins’ fishing talent came in particularly useful earlier this month, at the Westport Fishing Derby when she hooked a more than 15-pound silver salmon on the Washington coast.

“It was the biggest fish of the day,” Hawkins said with a smile. “Plus it was the biggest silver of the season.”

Both prizes yielded a total of $1,700.

“I call it my $1,700 fish,” she added with a smile.

The winning fish came as a surprise because Hawkins said she didn’t have any luck throughout the morning or afternoon. Catching her first silver of the afternoon, Hawkins said she couldn’t keep it because it was wild.

As the day continued, Hawkins was not having luck catching any additional fish. Once the group was instructed to reel in their lines and prepare to head home, Hawkins said her line jumped and there on the end of her line was the award-winning silver salmon.

“Everyone said, ‘That’s a winner,’” she added. “I knew it was big, but I didn’t think it was that big and didn’t think much of it, people started asking me if I had a derby ticket.”

A derby ticket must be purchased before heading out on a fishing expedition to gather possible winnings. A $5 price for $1,700 winnings.

Gaining her fishing experience as a child, Hawkins first learned of the hobby from her father and brother. Heading out with poles and bait every chance they got, she added that her uncle owned a resort on a lake that also yielded priceless fishing experiences.

“My brother and I would stay with Grandpa and Grandma and spend all summer fishing on the lake,” she added with a smile.

After deciding that she would go to Westport for a weekly fishing trip, Hawkins made her prize-winning catch at the end of the day and season for ocean salmon fishing.

When asked what she would do with the winnings, Hawkins replied with a smile, “I’ll put the money in my ‘fun’ checking account for fishing trips next year.”

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