Story last updated at 8/13/2014 - 2:54 pm
Some have never fished Territorial Sportsmen Inc.’s Golden North Salmon Derby before. Some have fished for half a century. Some are fishing for the smokehouse; some are fishing for scholarships; some are fishing to win.
Whatever your reason for or history with fishing, if the strategies fishermen told us are any indication, the fish are deep — and mysterious.
Bill Cameron said his strategy during the derby is to “go deep.”
He’s fished the derby at least 25 times, he said, adding that his girlfriend won the derby in 2004.
He also has a favorite spot to fish. Don’t bother asking — it’s classified.
“I’ve lived here all my life,” he said. “That spot has made me a lot of money (in derby prizes.)”
Rick “the white guy” White (he’s part Tlingit and Choctaw, but said his Native friends know him by that nickname) and Bill Swanson went out fishing a few days before the derby started, catching a 16-pound king and figuring out what kind of bait they wanted to start the derby with.
Roland Peterson, age eight, was fishing with dad Eric Peterson and Dana Vogler. It was his third year participating in the derby. Roland had already caught two fish by noon the first day.
Asked about the experience of reeling them in, he said it was “hard.”
William Brown, whose group of first-time derby fishermen had already caught a few coho, said his strategy for filling up the smokehouse was to “get all wet, try and stay out of the wind, and make sure the fish bite.”
One of the longest-time fishermen we talked to is Joan “from Juneau” Brooks. Brooks is 83. She moved to Juneau in 1958 and has fished the derby almost every year.
Son Todd Brooks flew up from California to fish the salmon derby with her.
“We try to make every derby, but we never win,” he said. “We spend a lot of time playing Scrabble.”
They have placed and gotten door prizes, however. Once, they won a helicopter tour over the Mendenhall Glacier.
Joan has participated in around 50 derbies, she estimates.
“I guess it’s the excitement of the contest,” she said. “Trying to see who can get the biggest fish … funny things that people do. It’s a different environment (during the derby). It’s exciting.”
She said she always attends the awards night honoring the winners. “We’re always happy to see the faces of the winners,” she said. “There’s something about winning money for a fish.”