The crowds and fish weren’t as big as usual, according to officials, but hundreds of fishermen still participated in this year’s 76th annual Golden North Salmon Derby weekend event.
“It was definitely slower,” said Shawn Hooton, the co-chair for the Salmon Derby. “I heard even longtime fishermen were frustrated about the amount of time spent on the water catching nothing.”
The derby is a Juneau tradition in which residents hopped in their boats rain or shine to not only test their fishing chops against their neighbors but also give back to the community. The funds generated from the annual event go toward creating scholarships for graduating high school seniors and graduate studies students. This year, five students will receive scholarships thanks to the funding from the event.
According to the derby’s website, this year’s unofficial winning fish — which was close to 10 pounds lighter than the previous year’s winner — was a 22.1-pound king salmon caught by Shawn Bethers and weighed at the new Auke Nu Cove weigh-in location, followed by a 20.7-pound king caught by Steve Mielke and weighed at the Amalga weigh-in station.
The youth winner was Oliver Cole-Undurraga who caught a 14.7 king weighed at Amalga, and the top team pulled in just shy of 200 pounds of fish.
Though the lack of numbers had some fishermen disappointed, Hooton said he still thinks it was a success.
“Generally, everyone had a good time and a lot of people liked the new Auke Nu location,” he said.
He said a variety of reasons like timing and weather could have contributed to the lack in numbers and participated, and said it’s always a “coin toss” to decide if the derby should be pushed back later in the year in hopes for better numbers.
Overall though, he said there was a general lack in the number of silvers brought in, and said there was about an equal amount of silvers and kings this year which is a bit unusual, though he won’t be certain till the data is compiled.
On Saturday, the weigh-in station that seemed to be pulling its weight the best was the new Auke Nu Cove weigh station located just past the ferry terminal which officials said had had a steady flow of fish coming in throughout the day. But, officials at the other two locations did not share the same experience.
“So far, it’s the slowest start in my 12 years,” said Jonathan Gunstrom, the dock captain at the Douglas Harbor weigh-in station on Saturday morning. “People just aren’t coming in, and just aren’t bringing in the numbers.”
“It’s pretty slow so far, this isn’t normal for the derby,” said Misty Dohrn, the Amalga Harbor dock boss on Saturday morning.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or at (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter @clariselarson