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Annual season kick off sends anglers on hunt for kings and cash in Homer

Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2010

The 17th Annual Homer Winter King Salmon Derby is a bit of a misnomer this year, the event will be held on the first day of spring.

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Photographer: Ben Stuart, Homer News
Photographer: Ben Stuart, Homer News
Ben Aaron takes a pickaxe to ice that has built up into the harbor on Tuesday, while Captain Scott Hines and Angus Crane run the motors of the M/V Rebel in an attempt to break it free. The crew worked most of the day Tuesday hoping to get the boat ready for the 2007 Winter King Salmon Derby.

That's fitting according to the tournament's coordinator, Paula Frisinger.

"It's a spring breakup time thing," she said, explaining the event has become something of a tradition for diehard anglers looking to beat the winter blues and get a line in the water.

On Tuesday Frisinger said a little over 100 people had entered the tournament, which starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

Competitors will cruise the waters of Kachemak Bay, trolling for feeder kings that reside in the area feasting and fattening them selves.

Carol Kerkvliet, an assistant management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Homer, said the fish caught hail from headwaters as far away as Oregon.

Frisinger said each year a loyal following of anglers will dig their boats from behind snowbanks for the event as a kick off for the season.

While it might be the first day of spring, weather still tends to be the biggest challenge.

Frisinger said this wouldn't be the first time they'll likely have to break ice out of the harbor to get boats out.

She remained hopeful the clear skies Homer enjoyed through mid-week would stick around for the weekend, but anglers often have to contend with rough water and gray skies.

"People still enjoy themselves even if it's snowing and blowing out there, but you get people irregardless of what the weather is," she said.

Heavy snows and strong winds over the last two weeks have kept anglers off the water according to Frisinger, though she said a few people were heading out mid-week.

Kerkvliet said she hasn't heard any recent reports either thanks to the weather.

"I haven't heard a peep," she said. "With all the snow and everything it's put a damper at the office."

Registration for the event continues until just prior to lines in and Frisinger said many anglers will wait until the last minute before they sign up.

She said people without a boat can sign up to be placed on one, but right now there's a waiting list.

Entry fees are $100, Frisinger said and prizes are determined based on the amount the tournament collects through entry fees.

Saturday is forecasted to be mostly cloudy with highs in the mid 30's to mid 40's. Winds are forecasted to be north east at 15 knots with seas at 2 feet in the bay.

Dante Petri can be reached at dante.petri@peninsulaclarion.com



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