A boat drops off fish to be donated to a scholarship fund for local high school students at the Golden North Salmon Derby weigh station at Don D. Statter Harbor in Auke Bay on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. Volunteers for the 74th annual derby said things had been slower than usual this year. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

A boat drops off fish to be donated to a scholarship fund for local high school students at the Golden North Salmon Derby weigh station at Don D. Statter Harbor in Auke Bay on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. Volunteers for the 74th annual derby said things had been slower than usual this year. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

28-pounder leads Golden North Salmon Derby

Results are yet to be finalized

Though it was scaled back this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 74th annual Golden North Salmon Derby came to an end Sunday with a 28-pounder leading the charts. Results will be verified Tuesday, according to the derby’s website.

Unless the certified results say otherwise, top prize will go to Sandra Mielke who on Friday turned in a 28.2-pound king salmon at the Mike Pusich Douglas Harbor. Second prize goes to Steven Birkinbine with a 27.6-pound king brought in Friday to Auke Bay and third to Louie Pusich who turned in a 25.5-pound king in Douglas on Saturday.

Youth awards go Cianna Kahl for a 17.9-pound king and Taylor Thorp with a 13.7-pound coho.

Jonathan Gunstrom, lead volunteer for the derby weigh station at the Mike Pusich Douglas Harbor puts a fish into an ice container during the 74th annual Golden North Salmon Derby on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. All fish caught in the derby are donated to Alaska Glacier Seafoods and the proceeds contributed to a scholarship fund. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Jonathan Gunstrom, lead volunteer for the derby weigh station at the Mike Pusich Douglas Harbor puts a fish into an ice container during the 74th annual Golden North Salmon Derby on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. All fish caught in the derby are donated to Alaska Glacier Seafoods and the proceeds contributed to a scholarship fund. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Anglers brought in 2,604 pounds of king salmon this year, according to Doug Larsen, president of Territorial Sportsman Inc., the group that sponsors the derby. That’s more than 900 pounds than last year, he said, but while numbers for kings were up, numbers for cohos were down.

“We had 8,821 pounds of cohos,” Larsen said Monday in a phone interview. “That’s about half of what we had last year.”

But kings sell for more than cohos, Larsen said, and while coho donations were down, ticket sales were $9,000 more than last year.

“The derby did pretty well this year,” he said, even with all the complications caused by the pandemic. “We’re just tickled we were able to pull this off, we feel very fortunate that we were able to do this.”

Historically, Larsen said, all of the money generated from fish sales is donated to the scholarship fund. Ticket sales and donations from businesses cover prizes and operational costs, he said, but any remaining money is also put toward scholarships.

As of Monday afternoon, Larsen said he had no reason to believe Meilke’s 28-pounder wouldn’t be this year’s winner.

Specific prizes are awarded to the top winner and this year, the fish that placed 74th, corresponding to how many years the derby has been running. The remaining winners have a choice of prizes, and are allowed to choose in an order corresponding to how their fish placed.

[Derby starts slow, but first fish has been caught]

First prize this year has a total cash value of $12,149, including $10,000 in cash from Territorial Sportsman. Prize packages have combinations of cash, gift certificates and other goods donated by local businesses.

The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus meant the sponsors who normally contribute money and prizes to the derby had to reduce their donations or skip out entirely this year. Normally prizes would have been awarded to winners from first all the way down to the anniversary fish. This year, only the top 40 winners — and the 74th — will get prizes.

A boat pulls into Statter Harbor in Auke Bay to deliver ‘scholarship fish’ or salmon caught during the derby which won’t be entered into the main competition on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. Those fish are exchanged for raffle tickets and their holders can be awarded prizes. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

A boat pulls into Statter Harbor in Auke Bay to deliver ‘scholarship fish’ or salmon caught during the derby which won’t be entered into the main competition on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. Those fish are exchanged for raffle tickets and their holders can be awarded prizes. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

All fish from the derby are sold to Alaska Glacier Seafoods and the money from their sale is put in a scholarship fund for local high school students. This year’s scholarship winners are Abby Dean, Brian Stevenson, Brice Norton, Rigdon Hermann and Sierra Lloyd.

Fish that are donated and not entered into the weighing are exchanged for a ticket which is automatically entered into a raffle for a number of prizes, including a chance to win $50,000. The derby website says winning ticket numbers will be posted Wednesday.

Last year’s derby winner was an even 24-pounds, also turned in at Douglas Harbor.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Jan. 22

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Juneau man indicted on child pornography charges

A Juneau man was indicted Thursday on charges of possessing or accessing… Continue reading

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Juneau’s municipal and state legislative members, their staff, and city lobbyists gather in the Assembly chambers Thursday meeting for an overview of how the Alaska State Legislature and politicians in Washington, D.C., are affecting local issues.
Local leaders, lawmakers and lobbyists discuss political plans for coming year

Morning meeting looks at local impact of state, national political climates.

This photo shows pills police say were seized after a suspicious package was searched. (Juneau Police Department)
Police: 1,000 fentanyl pills, 86 grams of meth seized

Juneau man arrested on felony charges.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A resident and his dog walk past the taped off portion of the Basin Road Trestle after it suffered damaged from a rockslide earlier this week. The trestle is open to pedestrians, but will remain closed to vehicular traffic until structural repairs are made, according to city officials. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Rocky road: Basin Road Trestle open to pedestrians, remains closed to vehicles

City officials say repairs are currently being assessed after damaging rockfall

Library Director Dave Berry and Advisory Board Chair Kate Finn participate in Library Advisory Board meeting on Tuesday Jan. 17, 2023, at Homer City Hall, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Emilie Springer/Homer News)
Homer Library Advisory Board upholds decision to retain LGBTQ+ books

A citizen’s group last year submitted a petition asking that the books be removed from the children’s section

Courtesy Photo / Juneau Police Department 
This photo shows Woodrow Farrell Eagleman who police say after going missing on Jan. 11 was seen leaving town on Jan. 12 via airport surveillance.
Police: Man reported missing took plane out of town

A Juneau man recently reported as missing was found leaving town on… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Jan. 26

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read