The 31st annual Salmon Derby brought in over 300 fish ranging in weight from 8.1 to 45.6 pounds.
The Petersburg Chamber of Commerce sponsored event took place over the Memorial Day weekend Friday, May 25 to Monday, May 28. First prize was $7,500 cash, a derby jacket and hat and free processing by Tonka Seafoods; second prize was $3,500 cash, a derby sweatshirt and hat and third prize was $2,750 cash and a derby sweatshirt and hat. Prizes will be awarded Thursday night (May 31) at 7 p.m. at the PFI cookhouse.
This year’s top fish weighed in at 45.6 pounds and was caught by Thomas Cumps.
“This was a great experience,” Cumps said. “Every year I hope to have a fish that might make the weight and finally, I did.”
Cumps didn’t fish at all Friday but caught the high tides Saturday and Sunday. “I caught this fish early Sunday morning and made a decision to return and have it weighed,” Cumps said. “I thought the weighing began at 7 a.m., but I had to wait about an hour. But the wait made it more exciting, we all had a chance to guess what the fish weighed.”
Cumps took his son out with him Monday but when he brought in the big fish he did it alone. “I fought with the net quite a bit trying to bring him in,” Cumps said. “It kept getting hung up, but I finally landed it.”
Second place found Jim Schramek bringing in a 40 pound fish. “It was hard work this year,” Schramek said. “There just weren’t that many fish to be found.”
This is the first year in ten that Schramek participated in the Derby. “My son, Alec, wanted to fish the derby so we entered,” Schramek said.
Schramek and his son covered a lot of ground and found several jellyfish and algae which made it tough to catch anything.
“We stopped at the first place that wasn’t infested with jellyfish and it paid off,” Schramek said. “I couldn’t have done it without Alec along. This was a true father, son experience.”
Scott Stafford finished in third place with his 38.4 pound salmon. “This was the only salmon I caught that wasn’t undersized,” Stafford said. “I did a lot of catching and releasing.”
Stafford caught this fish around 6 p.m. Sunday around Jap Creek.
“This year the fishing was really slow,” Stafford said. “On the first day we didn’t catch any fish at all.”
Stafford has been participating in the derby every year since 2006 and the fish he caught that year was bigger than this year’s catch and he came in 11th.
“This is fun to me and I come here every year to enjoy the fishing,” Stafford said. “When fishing, I would rather be lucky than good.”
For the first time in 31 years, no fish were tagged prior to the derby. Despite 9-1/2 hours of fishing on Wednesday by as many as 7 volunteers, no fish were caught for tagging.
309 fish were entered in the derby this year.