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Fishing isn't fun if it isn't safe.
It's just a roulette game.
With Ketchikan's king salmon derby starting Saturday and running for the next three weekends, the fishing should be about having fun — and catching the big one.
That catch is least likely to go to the one with boat, equipment and supply issues. If a fisher is dealing with issues, it leaves less time for fishing.
There's no sense in entering the derby only to be distracted from fishing by not being prepared for the cold and rain. Outfit for the weather.
A few days remain before the derby begins to ensure all safety equipment is onboard and operable as well. Boats should be equipped with sufficient communication, charged and ready for use. Radios, cell phones and the like will prove invaluable when needed.
Lifejackets are required; backup power is recommended; a hand-operated bilge pump is suggested, and coverings to keep all manner of supplies dry will be greatly appreciated when the time comes.
Being prepared will reduce the likelihood that a fishing or recreational boating trip will be eventful in a negative way.
Alaska had 18 recreational boating accidents in 2013; seven turned out to be fatal and resulted in the death of 10 boaters. Another 12 people were injured, according to statistics provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Alaska has averaged nearly 21 recreational boating accidents annually over the past five years, Coast Guard statistics show. It has recorded an average of 11 fatal accidents and 14 fatalities per year.
Those aren't the types of events derby fishermen want to experience.
The event should be the catch and landing of one king salmon after another, and hopefully one of the big ones.
In a non-scientific poll on the Ketchikan Daily News website, most voters believe the derby winner will weigh between 40 and 50 pounds. But, the optimists are out there, and so are the big fish.
Let's be safe in our attempt to catch one. Or two. Or three.