The 31st Annual Petersburg Chamber of Commerce King Salmon Derby gets underway this Friday morning at 7 a.m. The derby continues through the Memorial Day Weekend and ends Monday at 5 p.m.
No tagged fish will be available for anglers this year however. Derby Committee member Doug Welde reported volunteers in as many as seven participating boats were unable to catch two King Salmon to tag on Wednesday morning near Frederick Point. The tagged fish could normally bring a derby angler a chance at $5,000 from Hammer and Wikan and the other could garner a $10,000 prize sponsored by Alaska Marine Lines and the Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.
“We caught a few shakers and had several strikes, but nothing we could tag,” said Welde.
Welde spent over nine hours trolling with volunteers who joined in during the day. This is the first time in 31 years there will be no tagged fish to tease anglers, Ron Loesch, derby committee chair said Wednesday.
Top prize in the derby is $7,500 cash, a derby hat and jacket, and free fish processing by Tonka Seafoods.
Second prize is $3,500 cash and a derby sweatshirt and hat. Third prize is $2,750 cash and derby sweatshirt and hat.
Over $38,000 in cash, gifts and prizes will be awarded to derby participants starting with the largest fish, with descending weights at the Thursday night award night at the PFI cookhouse on May 31 at 7 p.m.
Prize donations from businesses and individuals exceed $38,000, according to Loesch. The derby definitely has the support of the community, and for that, the committee is very grateful, he added.
Derby rules specify that fishers must have a validated derby ticket in their possession prior to fishing. “We've had reports of people fishing before validated derby tickets were in their possession, so the rules are emphasized in the derby booklet this year,” Loesch said.
The derby will continue to weigh fish entries in the round, but individuals may enter dressed fish at their discretion. A few people want to preserve their catch by cleaning and icing the catch and the committee favored allowing that option. A question of whether to weigh all fish after dressed was voted down in a ballot conducted last year by a 122 vote margin. 202 people favored the weigh-in of dressed fish and 327 asked to leave the rules in their current form.
While ADF&G rules allow the use of two poles per angler, derby rules allow only one pole.
Derby rules prohibit the use of downriggers or similar devices while participating in the derby.
Anglers are encouraged to read the regulation booklets, notices, and posted maps provided by ADF&G before fishing the derby.
Anglers derby fishing from a commercially licensed vessel, other than a charter boat, are reminded to clip the dorsal fin when bringing it aboard while in waters closed to commercial fishing.
“We're grateful for ongoing assistance from Doug Fleming of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game,” Loesch said. “He helped us to secure the required permit to hold the derby, as well as posting displays of the fishing regulations for the benefit of derby anglers.
“We appreciate his work on our behalf,” Loesch added.
Derby tickets and derby booklets with complete rules are available at the weigh-in station at the Harbormaster’s office; Hammer and Wikan and Trading Union hardware stores, Harbor Liquor, Bottle Shop, Tides Inn; and the Scandia House.
All derby tickets must be validated before participants fish the derby. Validation will take place at the Harbor weigh-in station, boat harbor ramps and the Banana Point Launch Ramp at 7 a.m. on May 25.
The Petersburg Chamber of Commerce sponsors the derby.