Homer has one for winter kings and halibut. Seward’s is one of the oldest in the state. And now, Kenai will have its own silver salmon derby. After a little more work than expected, the Chamber of Commerce is set to start giving out prizes for the four day contest.
“This has been a brainchild of my board for a few years now. With the fishery issues the past couple years, we just didn’t want to mess with it. We started thinking this past spring that we wanted to make it happen. So we announced it, then we found out there was a lot more red tape involved," said Chamber president Johna Beech.
And there were also concerns among different fishing groups about not just allocation issues, but additional pressure on a fishery that doesn’t get the same kind of attention as others on the Kenai. Silver runs can be a lot different year to year. The Department of Fish and Game didn’t object to or endorse the event. But the run this year has been particularly strong.
Beech says eventually they got the okay through the state parks department and are happy with a new opportunity for activities during the shoulder season before winter. So, how does it work?
“First thing, you have to have a fishing license. Then you have to buy a ticket at Three Bears in Kenai or the Kenai Visitors Center. Then you go fishing. That’s the fun part. Once you’ve caught your fish, bring it into Three Bears, get your fish weighed and at the end of the day, I show up and we spin these two big wheels and figure out pounds and ounces and then that’s our weight for the day and the fish that’s closest to that weight is the winner for that day. You are more than welcome to try to get the biggest fish or the ugliest fish or the longest fish but if you want it to be weighed it has to be over four pounds. Then we’ll pull the mystery weight at the end of the night and we’ll have daily winners and an overall winner.”
There will be daily and overall cash prizes, based on ticket sales. Daily tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for kids 16 and under. A ticket for the full five days of the derby will run $100 for adults, $50 for kids. They go on sale September 12th. The derby runs from the 13th through the 17th.