Trying for a trophy

Sockeyes must weigh 12 pounds to get top honors

Posted: Friday, July 30, 2004

Cody Perkowitz knew he had a big one on his line as he fished for sockeye salmon last weekend at Swiftwater Park in Soldotna.

When Perkowitz, 13, visiting from Colorado and fishing with his father, Chris, and his aunt Lauri Winter of Soldotna, thought the sockeye might even be some sort of record the measurements taken at the river suggested a 14-pound fish.

That scale was a little off, though, and when the fish was weighed on a state-certified scale, it came in at 10 pounds still plenty big for a sockeye, but not quite trophy size.

Jeff Breakfield, a fisheries biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the Soldotna office gets numerous inquiries each season as to how big a sockeye needs to be in order to be considered trophy size.

"The Kenai River has a large run of large sockeye, so there's a fair number of (inquiries)," Breakfield said.

Trophy size for sockeye is 12 pounds. Sockeye returning to the river are generally 4 to 8 pounds, according to Fish and Game's Wildlife Notebook Series.

The record for sockeye is 16 pounds, taken by Chuck Leach on the Kenai River in 1974.

Breakfield said a fish that might be a record-breaker should be taken to a state-registered scale as soon as possible.

"We have one here. You can give us a call and bring the fish over," Breakfield said. "We can measure the fish, get a length and pop a few scale (samples)."

Breakfield said the fish should be kept cool and moist to prevent dehydration.

If the fish does measure up, a trophy fish affidavit (one is provided on the back page of the regulations summary) must be completed and sent to Fish and Game offices in Juneau. A trophy fish official must sign the affidavit, as well as a witness, and a photograph must be submitted. A trophy certificate will then be sent to the lucky angler.

Breakfield said that can all be done at Fish and Game offices, though there are several trophy fish officials in the area.

Breakfield said he's had the opportunity to take trophy measurements on several king salmon this summer trophy weight for kings is 75 pounds on the Kenai and 50 pounds for the rest of the state but hasn't seen any other species yet.

Trophy size is 20 pounds for silver salmon, eight pounds for pinks, 10 for Dolly Varden and 15 pounds for rainbow trout. All are species likely to be caught in the Kenai River.

Fish and Game also has a catch-and-release certificate program.

As for Perkowitz, while he won't be taking home a trophy certificate, he did end up with one nice fish and one pretty good fish tale. Two or three more retellings to his friends in Colorado, and that sockeye just might be trophy size after all.

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