Outdoors
It’s a lot of fun catching fish during the Territorial Sportsmen’s Golden North Salmon Derby, but the work doesn’t stop when you reel them in.
Fish out of water: For some fishermen, catching is the easy part 081314 OUTDOORS 1 Capital City Weekly It’s a lot of fun catching fish during the Territorial Sportsmen’s Golden North Salmon Derby, but the work doesn’t stop when you reel them in.

Eugenia Ward, left, and Nazar Znakovski clean scholarship fish at Auke Bay Harbor on Saturday during the 68th Golden North Salmon Derby.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Story last updated at 8/13/2014 - 2:55 pm

Fish out of water: For some fishermen, catching is the easy part

It’s a lot of fun catching fish during the Territorial Sportsmen’s Golden North Salmon Derby, but the work doesn’t stop when you reel them in.

Here are some of the people who make the derby and its scholarships a reality, and who handle the fish once they leave the hook.

Sheri Wohlhueter, on board the Petersburg tender the Matilda Bay, was ready for a late-afternoon influx of hungry anglers by preparing fish-shaped (and, the Capital City Weekly can attest, delicious) cookies.

Those who donated their fish to the tender, chartered by Alaska Glacier Seafoods, got a chance to win a door prize.

Though Sheri and husband Kurt worked during the derby last year, this was their first time at that location.

They were there with their grandson, some helpers, an Alaska Department of Fish and Game representative, their Newfoundland dog, Calder, and their six-toed cat Tassu. The dog and cat adjust to the tender quite well, Sheri said.

“It’s home for a few months,” said Sheri, whom commercial fishermen also know for her cookies. Normally, the couple tenders for gillnetters, trollers, and Sitka Sound herring fishermen. They’ve tendered since 2008 and commercial fished — crabbing, shrimping and longlining — since 1978, Sheri said.

Mike Erickson, owner of Alaska Glacier Seafoods, checked in on crew stationed in Auke Bay on Friday afternoon. The company buys donated fish from the Territorial Sportsmen at market price. The Territorial Sportsmen gets money for its scholarships, and the company gets fish to sell. Usually, that works out to between 15,000 and 20,000 pounds of fish — mostly coho, with some king salmon.

“It works out great for all of us,” Erickson said.

ADF&G fish technician John Cooney was taking scale samples, length measurements, and genetic samples of the kings that came his way at Auke Bay. The department uses the measurements for its sportfishing program, and once fish are determined to be either wild or hatchery fish — or to come from the Lower 48 or Alaska — they also help inform Pacific Salmon Treaty harvest limits, he said.

Greg Taylor was volunteering at Auke Bay’s Statter Harbor station to help validate tickets and weigh fish; he volunteers every year.

“It’s (good) just to be out with friends and throw fish at each other,” he said.

He also likes that the event helps send kids to college.

Kami Bartness, who is on the Territorial Sportsmen’s board of directors, said the derby is very important in her family, as her father was one of the first few to receive a scholarship. It got him through college.

“He got an engineering degree because of the Territorial Sportsmen,” she said.

Bartness, Taylor, and other volunteers at Douglas, Harris, and Statter Harbors had plenty of work to do. As of 8 a.m. Friday, almost 300 people had already validated their tickets.

When it really gets busy, however, is in the evening, when most people weigh in their fish. The floating dock with the totes gets pretty heavy.

“We’ve had this dock tipping over there’s so much fish on it,” Erickson said. “This (event) is a pretty big thing for the community.”


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