SEWARD (AP) -- An Anchorage man won this year's Seward Silver Salmon Derby by hooking and netting a spectacular 18.7-pound silver salmon.
Scott West got the good news Sunday when the nine-day derby came to an end and after four anxious days of waiting. He caught the big prize-winner on Wednesday to receive the $10,000 prize.
Gail Baumgartner of Anchorage landed the derby's second-biggest fish with his 18.62-pound catch, earning him $5,000. Ed Weigelt of Edmonds, Wash., placed third with a 18.48-pounder and netted $2,500. No other fish in the derby's estimated crop of 3,000 topped 18 pounds.
West, a 39-year-old warehouse worker for the Anchorage School District, spent the better part of the derby on the water fishing. He made his trophy catch from his 24-foot boat Lu Lu Belle at the head of Resurrection Bay just outside of Seward.
West, who was fishing with his brother Dan and nephew Cory, knew he had a lunker on the line from the moment he hooked it.
''As soon as he hit, he jumped out of the water,'' West said. ''I knew he was big when I saw him.''
West patiently, and a bit nervously, worked the fish for about 10 minutes before bringing it up to the boat.
''There was no doubt about what it was. We knew I had a Cadillac back there,'' West said. ''I just babied it to the net and thanked my brother when he got it in the net.''
West, a seven-year derby veteran, then made a savvy move by quickly racing his boat to shore and bringing his fresh, water-weighted catch to the derby booth for weighing.
''I was in there in five minutes,'' West said. ''As fast as the boat would run.''
West's fish vaulted him to the top of the derby chart. But with the end of the derby four days away, West continued to do what he drove to Seward to do: fish.
''I would just wait until 10 o'clock every night and look at the leader board,'' West said. ''If I was still there, I was still there. I'd rather be nervous on the water.''
West's top silver before this year was in last year's derby, a 16.94-pound fish that earned him ninth place. But this year's prize catch wasn't big enough to top John Westlund's 1994 derby record of 20.59 pounds.
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