KETCHIKAN (AP) -- Kim Vicchy and her dog Molly were about to take a break on the beach at Cone Island Sunday when the winning fish struck her line.
''I thought it was a halibut,'' she said Tuesday. But after about a 20-minute fight, she netted a 51-pound king salmon and won the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce King Salmon Derby, leading a field of 30 fish.
The big salmon went for a whole herring dragged behind a 10-ounce lead weight and a flasher, said Vicchy, an administrative supervisor for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Ketchikan.
Vicchy fished from the 16-foot skiff of her co-worker Bert Lewis, who called her early Sunday morning. Lewis had purchased a downrigger the previous day and planned to attach both fishing lines to it, she said.
''I said, 'No, I don't need to be on the downrigger. I'll just hold my pole, because that's fishing, holding your pole.' And he's like, 'No, no, no. We can put two poles on a downrigger.' And I said, 'No, I don't need to be on the downrigger.'''
Lewis insisted on the downrigger, Vicchy said.
''And so, I'm like, 'OK, whatever, it's your boat,''' she said. ''So, when I got down to the boat, and we got out, he said, 'Oh, you know what? I lent my spare snap to my buddy yesterday and he never gave it back. I've only got one snap so we can only fish one pole on the downrigger.' So I go, 'Fine by me, you know? I'm fine with that.'''
The two left Bar Harbor at 9 a.m. on Lewis' 16-foot Lund skiff and were trolling Cone Island by 9:45 a.m., Vicchy said. Her bait rolled 20 to 30 feet below the surface. Lewis had set his downrigger at 70 feet, she said.
They didn't have a bite for two hours and Vicchy wondered if Lewis' 35- horsepower Honda outboard was too fast. ''We were passing everybody,'' she said.
They were moving along near the shore at Cone Island, looking up Thorne Arm, and Vicchy told Lewis that she and her chocolate Labrador needed a pit stop on the beach. AS the skiff made one last pass before heading for shore, Vicchy played electronic pocket poker, her halibut pole resting in a rod holder.
Then the line on pole zinged twice. Then, nothing.
''I picked it up, thinking it was the bottom,'' she said.
It was the fish. The fight lasted 20 minutes. The fish worked to stay deep and Vicchy was convinced it was a halibut. Everytime the line peeled out, the salmon went straight down.
''Bert was all excited, running around and telling me what to do and how to fish,'' Vicchy said. ''And he's jumping back and forth putting stuff out of the way. So, the dog's all excited from him being excited, and she's going back and forth. And we're all just running into each other and tripping over the dog.''
The fish finally surfaced.
Vicchy, an 18-year Ketchikan resident, recalls going derby fishing only one other year, in the early 1990s.
''But I was probably out there as the sandwich maker, sitting around,'' she said. ''The guys were fishing.''
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