Anglers vie to land lunkers in derbies

Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2002

When Alaskans think of derbies, we don't mean the ponies at Churchill Downs or those Akron, Ohio, soapboxes. No, there is only one thing that comes to mind when someone says derby: fishing!

Some of the biggest fishing derbies each year are found on the Kenai Peninsula. Take a look at these:

Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby

Sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce, the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby began in 1986 and has been a hit ever since. Last year, Tom Barkman of Homer caught a 322-pounder, good enough for a first prize of $33,514, the largest purse to date. The largest ever derby winner weighed 376 pounds and was caught in 1996.

This year's event will run from 9 p.m. May 1 through Labor Day. Daily derby tickets are $10 and must be purchased in advance from official ticket vendors, which include local charter offices, bed and breakfasts, various stores and the official derby headquarters at Homer Harbor. Check there for specific derby rules.

There are a variety of ways to win, and win big. There is a $10,000 drawing from among all the released halibut verified as being more than 80 pounds; monthly prizes of $1,000, $750, $500, $250 and $125 for the top five fish; 30 fish tagged for $1,000 prizes and 70 tagged for $500 prizes and a $2,000 cash drawing from among all ticket stubs.

Then, of course, there is the jackpot prize for the largest halibut caught during the season. Three dollars from each derby ticket sold will go into the jackpot.

The derby is the chamber's largest fund raising event of the year. Call the chamber at (907) 235-7740.

Seward Silver Salmon Derby

As Alaska fishing derbies go, the Seward Silver Salmon Derby, sponsored by the Seward Chamber of Commerce, is the granddaddy of them all. This is its 47th year.

There are prizes galore, including a grand prize of $10,000. The next dozen biggest salmon caught during the nine-day tourney will win lesser cash prizes down to a low of $500. Tagged fish qualify for prize money of $10,000 to $50,000, but all caught tagged fish will be worth at least $100. The top 50 silvers will win prizes of cash, goods and services. There are $50 daily prizes for the top fishes entered by a man, woman and youth. A $20 daily prize will be paid for the "mystery fish" drawn at random from the fish entered that day.

This year's tournament runs from Aug. 10-18. Entry fees are $35 for the entire tourney or $10 per day. You may fish from shore or from a boat.

Charters and boat rentals are available, but it is wise to make reservations early.

Seward also hosts a halibut derby running this year from May 1 to Aug. 1. Entry fees are $35 for the entire derby, or $5 per day.

The winning halibut each week will win $500, while second- and third-place finishers will take home $250 and $125 cash prizes plus merchandise and gift certificates respectively. Those weekly winners also will be eligible for a drawing for $1,000 at the end of the tournament.

For more information, call the Seward Chamber of Commerce at (907) 224-8051.

Ninilchik King Salmon Derby

Sponsored by the Ninilchik Chamber of Commerce, this year's king salmon derby runs from April 15 to June 15. Tickets are $5 and only one fish can be entered per ticket.

First prize is $1,000 and a king salmon mount donated by Ninilchik Fish Mounts. Second prize is $500. All fish must be legally caught between the Ninilchik River and Bluff Point.

Call the Ninilchik Chamber of Commerce at (907) 567-3571 for more information.

The Ninilchik Halibut Derby

Ninilchik also will host the Ninilchik Halibut Derby, held annually from Fathers Day to Labor Day. There is a $20,000 tagged fish and a $10,000 tagged fish, plus 48 other tagged fish worth numerous other prizes.

Tickets are $5 per day and only one fish may be checked per ticket. There will be 11 $100 prizes awarded from a random drawing from among the tickets sold.

Call the Ninilchik Chamber of Commerce at (907) 567-3571 for more information.

Anchor Point derbies:

An annual fund-raiser for South Peninsula Sportsmen's Association, the King Salmon Calcutta Tournament is a great way to spend a couple of days. But this one's a bit different. The tournament runs Friday and Saturday May 10-11. On Friday, people bid on the boat they think will bring in the largest fish. Fishing takes place on Saturday. When the boats return, whoever bid on the boat bringing in the largest fish takes home half the pot. Last year first prize was $6,750. Meanwhile, the biggest king salmon caught earned the happy angler $3,400. Call 235-7427 for more information.

The Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce hosts the Anchor Point National Kids Derby. The event commemorates National Fishing Week and will be held Saturday, June 8. There is no entry fee, and all children up to age 16 are eligible to enter and try their luck hooking the big one from the internationally famous Anchor River. Winners go on to state and national competition. Call the Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce for registration information at (907) 235-2600.

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