At least spring king salmon are running bigger than usual for Juneau anglers competing in the premier spring fishing tournament.
With about two thirds of this year's 11th Annual Spring King Salmon Derby behind us, at least nine kings have been weighed in over 30 pounds, lead by Joseph Castillo's 38.2-pounder.
But anglers are getting more than just a chance at big salmon and prices that could top $8,000 for first place, derby coordinator Leslie Isturis said.
"Just getting out on the water, relaxing, enjoying this beautiful weather, is a big part of it," Isturis said. "I just got through talking to the folks at Western Auto, even they got away from the store to fish this weekend. They didn't get a bite, but still said it was well worth it!"
While in some past derbies most of the top kings were caught in the early days, it seems there's a continuing procession of big kings being weighed in the latter part of the tourney. At least three kings of 30 or more pounds were entered last weekend.
The 2004 derby winner was a 51.4-pound giant king that Robert Dilley caught on the last weekend of that derby.
"There are a lot more big fish this year," Isturis said. "Big fish are still coming in and there's that really big one still out there waiting for somebody to catch him!"
While it is hardly a scientific survey, this author's own poll of serious anglers has produced several reports of kings too big to control, that have spooled or broken off even experienced fishermen.
Of the time this goes to press, 112 kings have been entered the derby. Beyond the prizes available to the top 30 kings entered gutted-and-gilled in the event, there are additional prizes for young anglers. Three-year-old Gavin Millard is the youngest angler on the board so far, with a 19.05-pound that must be almost as large as he is.
The derby is the primary fundraiser for the Tlingt-Haida Alumni Scholarship Assistance Program, which provides financial aid to almost 100 Native students in college.
Entry fee is $40 and derby tickets are available at Alaskan & Proud, Breeze-In, DeHart's Auke Bay Store, Fishermen's Bend, Harri Plumbing, Rayco Sales and Western Auto.
The Empire and CCW are also posting photos from competing anglers. Please e-mail photos to Webmaster@juneauempire.com or upload them yourself to the community gallery at: http://spotted.juneauempire.com/pages/event_galleries.php?event=3452.
Family fishing photos are especially welcome.