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In its 71st year, the Ketchikan Salmon Derby is showing its silver.
The derby — for the first time since 1947 will target silver salmon after 70 years of singling out kings. This year “king” has been removed from the derby name.
The change is due to restrictions on king salmon catches set in the spring by the state Department of Fish and Game. State fish officials set June 15 — after the traditional close of the king salmon derby in past years — as the earliest date that kings could be retained. Instead of further stressing the king fishery by delaying the derby, the committee opted to put on a silver derby.
That meant instead of starting the derby over Memorial Day Weekend, it would end on Labor Day Weekend. The derby starts Saturday morning, with fishing this weekend, the following weekend and the weekend after that through Labor Day.
The committee hopes to return to a king salmon event in the next couple of years, which will be determined by the species’ numbers in the meantime.
The silver derby means that instead of winners being decided by the pound that it’s more than likely only ounces will separate prize holders.
And with a smaller range of weight among silvers than when it comes to kings, if more than one fish of the same weight is entered in the derby, then the one turned in first will be placed highest on the derby ladder.
The silver derby rules will be much the same as they were for the king salmon derby, says derby coordinator Michael Briggs. Fish and Game regulations will apply, meaning, most significantly, that six silvers may be caught daily on derby days.
Fishing begins at 7 a.m. Saturday the first weekend. The four derby weigh-in stations — manned by civic-minded volunteers — will have abbreviated hours this year; instead of remaining open until 9 p.m. Sunday, they will close at 7 p.m. The same hours apply the second weekend.
The third weekend, derby fishing will once again open at 7 a.m. Saturday, but it won’t end until 7 p.m. Monday, Labor Day.
Anglers participating in the derby must possess a ticket and have it punched to be official. Punching begins at 6:45 a.m. Saturdays and 7 a.m. on Sundays and Labor Day. A valid Fish and Game fishing license also is required.
Briggs says ticket sales have been brisk. He had 1,750 printed, and notes that more people come to Ketchikan for the silver season than they do (did) for the king season. He’s hoping for significant sales.
Another change in the derby is the elimination of the hidden weight prize. Replacing that prize will be daily drawings. Adult anglers can win up to $500.
All derby proceeds benefit the Ketchikan CHARR Education Fund, which provides scholarships to local students. Last year, according to Briggs, the fund distributed about $9,500 in scholarships.
The derby also has adopted electronic means to assist in keeping track of entries. Judges will be equipped with tablets into which entry information will be input. Bluetooth printers will provide a printed receipt to each angler turning in fish, and copies of the printout will be emailed to both the angler and the derby coordinator. The information will appear on the leader board on the committee’s website: https://www.ketchikancharrsalmonderby.com.
In addition to the leader board, all 31 prizes — including the grand prize of $10,071 in cash and approximately $70,000 total in adult ladder prizes — are listed on the website along with rules, sponsors and a photo gallery. Plus the 10 youth ladder prizes and daily drawings increase the derby’s overall prize total.
Plus, the official derby brochure provides all the information pertinent to the derby.
The countdown to the derby has begun. As of the conclusion of this editorial, the derby committee’s website showed only three days, 15 hours, 10 minutes and 13 seconds remained until the derby’s start.
Let’s get ready to fish!