"After a month of waiting, it feels really good to know that I won the Derby," said Frank. "Early on, the waiting wasn't too bad; I checked the standings on the Internet every so often. But last week, the wait started to get more difficult, especially on the last day. I was getting pretty nervous as I saw the bigger fish coming in towards the end."
Frank won the Derby with a 37.95-pound king, which he caught from shore on May 3rd at about 7:30 p.m. "There were some people around when I caught it, and then more and more spectators showed up when they realized that it was a pretty big fish," he said. Frank estimates that he fought the salmon for about 25 minutes.
Having fished in four previous derbies but never placed, Frank said that he bought a Derby ticket just to be on the safe side. "I called it my 'just-in-case' ticket," he laughed. "I've got to say that I'm glad I got it."
Frank isn't the only one who benefits from the Derby, according to the event's founder and director, Archie Cavanaugh. "Because of money raised from the Derby, fundraisers, raffles and benefit luncheons, we're able to provide about 80 to 90 students with scholarships each year through the Tlingit Haida Alumni Scholarship Assistance Program," explained Cavanaugh, who also serves as the director of the Tlingit Haida Vocational Regional Training Center (VRTC). "And though we haven't finished tallying all of the ticket sales yet, it looks like 2005 was a record year."
Despite losing money in its first year, the Spring King Derby has grown into quite a success over the past eight seasons. In 2004, it attracted 1,300 anglers-up from 500 fishermen in 2001 and 800 fishermen in 2002. Cavanaugh expects the 10th anniversary to attract even more anglers hoping to hook the huge cash prize of $10,000.
"It's our big 10-0 next year, so we're hoping to have a $10,000 cash prize, with the overall amount of cash and prizes totaling around $15,000," he said. "We're heading into uncharted territory there, but we've been pretty successful so far."
Cavanaugh credits the Derby's success to the work of his staff and help from a number of people, including Leslie Isturis, Tana Bell, Marlee Isturis, Rudy Isturis, and Nancy Quinto. "Everyone helps out," he said. "We all roll up our sleeves and get it done."
"My advice to people for next year's derby is to have a lot of persistence and patience," he said. "I put in a lot of hours fishing to win."
"I still have trouble believing that I won," he added. "Especially after a month of waiting...it feels really good."