Salt Lake City, Utah angler, John Forster, right, holds up the 2008 Homer Winter King Derby winning fish with his longtime Ninilchik fishing buddy and boat captain of the M/V Blood Vessel, George Veney. Forster won $16,653 for his 34-pound king salmon.
Photo by Ben Stuart/Homer News
It's likely not easy to convince family and friends in Salt Lake City that it's a good idea to go on a fishing trip to Alaska in March. But after winning this year's Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament, John Forster and his 34-pound fish probably quieted the critics.
A first-place check worth $16,653 will probably help too.
In just his second attempt at fishing the derby, Forster captured the top prize Sunday while fishing with his longtime friend from Ninilchik, George Veney, on the M/V Blood Vessel.
Forster said there will likely be a third attempt at the derby next year, and a fourth, and a fifth
"I don't think I'll have to ask permission to come again," Forster said.
The duo caught the fish at about 3:15 p.m. and Veney said he knew it was a king as soon as it started running away from the boat, stripping line.
When they netted the fish and brought it into the boat, they realized that it might be the king everyone was looking for.
"I said, 'this is a money fish,'" Veney said and, at the time, estimated it weighed at 35 to 40 pounds.
The pair fished for a few more minutes, then decided to stop fishing and get the fish weighed before it lost much moisture and weight.
When it got to the scales it wasn't quite as big as they thought, but still bigger than any of the other 93 fish caught during the derby.
The derby was delayed one day due to the weather and was held on Easter Sunday instead of Saturday. The seas were a bit choppy on the way out to the fishing grounds early Sunday morning, but the wind died down and the sun came out for much of the morning and early afternoon.
At about 1 p.m. the wind started blowing from the north and some large rollers started building from the west.
With 793 anglers fishing on 236 boats, the total payout awarded to the top 10 finishers was $59,475, down a bit from years past, but still the fourth largest in the derby's 15-year history.
Boat side bets, including the new skunk side bet this year, raised $47,733 for lucky anglers. The total cash payout this year was $107,248.
The winner of the Bill Thompson Memorial youth prize and a check for $300 went to Layton Van Lier of Soldotna with a 17.4-pound fish.
Forster's win broke a two-year streak of Homer anglers getting the top prize.
2008 Homer Winter King Salmon Derby
Results (Name, hometown, boat name, weight, prize) 1. John Forster, Ninilchik, Blood Vessel, 34.0 pounds, $16,653.00; 2. Ryan Ensminger, Fairbanks, Dirty Bird, 32.0, $11,102.00; 3. Nicholas Berg, Kenai, Dansk, 28.1, $8,723.00; 4. Gregory Walker, Ft Richardson, Sea Otter, 27.4, $6,344.00; 5. Carol Fielder, Eagle River, Katilak, 26.2, $4,758.00; 6. John Youngblood, Anchorage, Pacific Sun, 25.1, $3,965.00; 7. Justin Adams, Homer, Venturess, 24.9, $3,172.00; 8. Clint Covey, Sterling, AK 3625 AF, 24.1, $2,379.00; 9. (tie) LeRoy Gray, Seattle, Wild Cat, 23.8, $1,189.50; 9. Ben Stuart, Homer, Marcia J, 23.8, $1,189.50; 11. Harry Forquer, Homer, Paloma Rose, 23.6, Merchandise; 12. Annie Cooper, Homer, Kingfish, 23.4, Merchandise; 13. Larry Merrill, Girdwood, Julia Lynn, 22.3, Merchandise; 14. Dave Cloud, Homer, Time Out, 22.2, Merchandise; 15. James Bluett, Ft Richardson, Sea Otter, 22.1, Merchandise; 16. Robert Standley, Fairbanks, Dirty Bird, 21.6, Merchandise; 17. Steve Perrizo, Kenai, Sweet Lorainne, 21.4, Merchandise; 18. Phillip Lane, Eagle River, Sea Otter, 21.2, Merchandise; 19. Matthew Shaw, Anchorage, Miss Izzy, 21.2, Merchandise; 20. Willie Suter, Homer, Flat Calm, 21.2, Merchandise.
Ben Stuart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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