Steve Sanders and Estrella Acosta examine their catch aboard the Marilyn at the Auke Nu Cove station as Alysha Reeves, the event’s dock chair, awaits. Acosta, 11, turned in 11 scholarship fish and entered a 10.1-pound salmon on Friday evening, the first day of the 77th Annual Golden North Salmon Derby. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

Steve Sanders and Estrella Acosta examine their catch aboard the Marilyn at the Auke Nu Cove station as Alysha Reeves, the event’s dock chair, awaits. Acosta, 11, turned in 11 scholarship fish and entered a 10.1-pound salmon on Friday evening, the first day of the 77th Annual Golden North Salmon Derby. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

Salmon Derby feels the weather, but keeps on fishing

77th annual charitable competition nets more fish than last year

This story has been updated with additional information about total catch and participation.

The 77th Annual Golden North Salmon Derby will be remembered for the weather that threatened to sidetrack it, and the hardy Juneauite fishers and volunteers who stuck it out, and ensured it was a successful event.

Derby organizers were paying close attention to the National Weather Service Juneau advisories, which began Thursday night, said Ryan Beason, president of the Territorial Sportsmen which hosts the charitable event he chairs, adding they heard a lot of opinions about what they should do.

“We consulted with the local weather service and NOAA” to look at more detailed aspects of the predictions, he said. They determined “Friday and Sunday were going to be fishable for most people.”

The winning fish as the three-day derby ended Sunday evening, a king salmon weighing in 24.4 pounds, was hooked by Dylan Kubley. Ryan Davis placed second with a 21.3-pound king, narrowly edging out Caden Johns, who took third with a 21.1-pound king.

The top coho, hooked by Zachary Martin, weighed 14.4 pounds, which was 17th overall.

Boats and people line up to drop off and weigh their catch at the Auke Nu Cove station on Sunday evening as the 77th Annual Golden North Salmon Derby draws to a close. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

Boats and people line up to drop off and weigh their catch at the Auke Nu Cove station on Sunday evening as the 77th Annual Golden North Salmon Derby draws to a close. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

Davis had the top fish for several hours before Kubley showed up with the bigger king salmon. But he said he was still happy with the number two fish.

“I get to add to my coat,” Davis said, spinning around to show off stats for the fish he’d caught in seven derbies over the years, each embroidered in a list on the back of his bright orange vest. “Guess I’ll have to wait another year to retire the coat.”

Weather largely held off on Friday, with good turnouts at all three of the weigh stations, although conditions worsened late in the day. The NWS issued an updated advisory at 8:15 a.m. Saturday about significant rain and gale-force winds up to 30 knots, with potential for 40 knot winds in the outer channel.

Davis said advance weather reports convinced him not to go out Friday, but when that wasn’t so bad he figured he would take his chances Saturday.

“It was rough. We had to hunker down near Outer Point, it got so bad,” he said. His pants were wet enough to damage his derby ticket.

It was rough at the Auke Nu Cove station on Saturday, said Alysha Reeves, the dock chair for the derby. They took the derby canopy down “and spent most of the day inside” the dock house. The all-women team of volunteers at the weigh-in station at Amalga Harbor did the exact same thing, although they had a heater.

Omar Saucedo, an employee of Alaska Seafood Co., moves two full fish totes at the Auke Nu Cove station on Sunday, while Alysha Reeves, the event’s dock chair, moves the rolling cart and Adam Lake, a technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, takes samples. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

Omar Saucedo, an employee of Alaska Seafood Co., moves two full fish totes at the Auke Nu Cove station on Sunday, while Alysha Reeves, the event’s dock chair, moves the rolling cart and Adam Lake, a technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, takes samples. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

On Sunday, amid intermittent light rain at the Douglas Harbor station, Bobby Dilg called Saturday “the worst day anyone can remember.” He said Sunday was more typical of the occasional bad weather for the derby.

Dilg, the lead volunteer at the weigh station at Douglas, said things started out slowly with just three scholarship fish turned in by noon Sunday.

But a short time later, Allison Lihou, John Diamond and Brian Thomason pulled up alongside the Douglas derby dock to drop off five more fish. One of them, caught by Thomason, a 19.6-pound king, turned out to be the fourth-largest fish caught this year. Diamond said they had been fishing around Grand Island where waves were up to five feet high.

“It was a long run home,” he said. Then the threesome headed back out to fish some more.

At Amalga Harbor the weather had grown warmer with the sun out throughout Sunday morning, making up for Saturday, and a string of boats came in midday.

On one of them at about 1:45 p.m. was Cate Buley, Jerry Post and Shea Post. The family dropped off three scholarship fish and Buley’s 11.8-pound king, which ended up 60th on the list of fish caught at the derby.

This was the family’s 20th year fishing in the competition.

“We skipped yesterday because of the high seas and storm warnings,” Buley said.

The fish this year were a little smaller than those early years, but this year the “whale watching was better,” she said. Earlier in the day they spent some time within view of humpback whales.

A total of 901 participants caught 1,724 pounds of king salmon and 17,138 pounds of cohos, Beason said. The number of fish caught was far higher than last year.

“Last year was the worst in 20 or 30 years, so that’s a good problem to have,” he said.

Alaska Seafood Co., which provides all the ice, and contracts to buy all the coho and king caught during the derby, was still getting a total, Beason said.

If the volume of fish that came in at the weigh station on Auke Bay on Sunday was any indication, it will be a high number. Nearly seven fish totes, each weighing about 500 pounds, were filled on Sunday, Reeves said.

The proceeds from the sale of fish goes to the Territorial Sportsmen Scholarship Foundation. More than $2 million dollars in scholarships have been awarded to 337 Juneau youth during the previous derbies, according to the foundation.

Contact Meredith Jordan at meredith.jordan@juneauempire.com or (907) 615-3190.

Jackie Ebert, 37, and her son William Oliver Dryer, 6, stand behind a fish he caught on Friday, the first day the 77th annual Golden North Salmon Derby, at the Auke Nu Cove weigh station. A few minutes earlier Ebert turned in a 14.2-pound fish, narrowly edging out a 14 pounder that was the heaviest at that point in the day. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

Jackie Ebert, 37, and her son William Oliver Dryer, 6, stand behind a fish he caught on Friday, the first day the 77th annual Golden North Salmon Derby, at the Auke Nu Cove weigh station. A few minutes earlier Ebert turned in a 14.2-pound fish, narrowly edging out a 14 pounder that was the heaviest at that point in the day. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

Mike Jaenicke, a dock sampler for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, scans a tagged fish at the Douglas Harbor station during the 77th annual Golden North Salmon Derby on Saturday. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

Mike Jaenicke, a dock sampler for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, scans a tagged fish at the Douglas Harbor station during the 77th annual Golden North Salmon Derby on Saturday. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

Allison Lihou, John Diamond and Brian Thomason (aboard boat) turn in five salmon, including four scholarship fish, to dock volunteers Jason Bailey (orange jacket) and Bobby Dilg at the Douglas Harbor station during the 77th annual Golden North Salmon Derby on Sunday. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

Allison Lihou, John Diamond and Brian Thomason (aboard boat) turn in five salmon, including four scholarship fish, to dock volunteers Jason Bailey (orange jacket) and Bobby Dilg at the Douglas Harbor station during the 77th annual Golden North Salmon Derby on Sunday. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

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