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A good year for the Golden North derby

Despite low numbers, 'we caught a lot of fish,' co-chair said

Posted: August 17, 2012 - 12:01am
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Jim Cawdrey unloads four king salmon at the Amalga Harbor weigh-in station during the Golden North Salmon Derby on Friday. Cawdrey's king on the left weighed in at 20.5 pounds and was good enough to earn him eighth place.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Jim Cawdrey unloads four king salmon at the Amalga Harbor weigh-in station during the Golden North Salmon Derby on Friday. Cawdrey's king on the left weighed in at 20.5 pounds and was good enough to earn him eighth place.

There’s one thing that is absolute when it comes to fishing in Juneau’s annual Golden North Salmon Derby: If you don’t fish, you can’t win prizes.

Take Tresamae Durand, for example. She turned in a 15.8-pound king salmon on the first day of this year’s derby. That was good enough for 66th place and $2,850 in winnings.

Not a bad day fishing, some would say.

In fact, this year’s derby, which is organized by the Territorial Sportsmen Inc., turned out to be a surprising success, Wayne Regelin, derby co-chair, said.

“We weren’t expecting a very good year because it had been a cold and wet summer and fishing had been miserable. So, (some) people just quit fishing,” he said. “I was concerned that we wouldn’t have people participate. We had about 200 less people this year, than last.”

Despite the fact participation numbers were down, there still were plenty of fish caught. Roughly 1,500 fishermen participated in the derby this year, Regelin said, and they donated 15,050 pounds of salmon that were sold by TSI to Alaska Glacier Seafoods. The 2012 catch was only 60 percent of catch in 2011, but the number of king salmon caught was much higher. Thirty percent of the catch was king salmon compared to only 10 percent last year.

“We caught so many more kings,” Regelin said. “The year before, in 2011, we had almost a record number of fish turned in, but only 10 percent were kings.”

Kings, he said, sell for about twice as much as coho, for example. This means that the overall amount of money raised this year for TSI scholarships will likely fall within the “normal” range, according to Regelin. They won’t know the exact amount for a few more days, he said, but the entire amount will be donated to the TSI scholarship fund. He estimated it will total roughly $25,000-$30,000.

The TSI board of directors certified results of the 2012 Golden North Salmon Derby on Tuesday. As reported, Brysen Mitchell won the derby with a 26.8-pound king salmon. Mitchell took home $10,000 for his first place finish, plus a large trophy, sterling silver belt buckle, a jacket, a steak dinner and a limo ride to awards night, which was held last night at Centennial Hall. He was also presented with a second trophy and additional prizes for the largest fish caught by a person under 12 years of age.

Andy Markovich took second place with a 23.4-pound king and Dennis Lavigne was third with a 23.4-pound king. The largest coho weighed 18.5 pounds and was caught by Jeff Regelin, of Spokane, Washington.

Each spring TSI awards four to five college scholarships worth $12,000 each, and two to three vocational scholarships worth $2,500 to graduates of Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain high schools.

A full listing of all the prize-winning numbers and official results is currently posted on the Golden North Salmon Derby website (goldennorthsalmonderby.org). This year’s top prized included two High Five drawings for $50,000 and $25,000, from Coeur-Alaska Kensington Gold Mine / Hecla Greens Creek Mine and Juneau Charter Boat Operators Association, respectively.

Locals and visitors alike have been enjoying the annual derby since 1947. And while changes in regulations and prizes have happened over the years, Regelin said today’s derby is as successful as ever due to the generous donations from businesses and because of the support of participants.

“Everbody had a good time,” he said. “And, we caught a lot of fish.”

 • Contact Outdoors editor Abby Lowell at abby.lowell@juneauempire.com.

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