Spring King Salmon Derby opens in style

29.5-pounder caught by Fagerstrom is early leader

Posted: Monday, May 04, 2009

The extended sunshine lured a slew of anglers into the water for the 13th annual Spring King Salmon Derby's opening weekend, but organizers are still looking for the big one to put atop the leader board.

David J. Sheakley / Juneau Empire
David J. Sheakley / Juneau Empire

Darrin Fagerstrom's 29.5-pounder has topped all comers since the month-long derby opened on Friday, but the long-time participant hopes that his entry doesn't hold up for long.

"I'd say 30 (pounds) is pretty average around what I usually catch," Fagerstrom said. "Hopefully, my first fish will hold up for last place. I'm looking for the 40-pounder.I think a 35 to 40 pounder will probably win it."

Fagerstrom reeled in the early leader in unique style, casting from a pontoon-mounted bicycle.

"It's the only way I fish anymore," Fagerstrom said. "It really gives me a distinct advantage with the early fish crowded tight to the rocks in the shallows. It lets me get right on top of them without scaring them. I like to watch my bait. If I'm watching at the right time, I can see the strike."

Fagerstrom's fish was part of an overall average haul for the first weekend, according to DeHart's Auke Bay Store employee and tackle shop operator Craig Jones.

"We're averaging the usual three fish per day, but I have a feeling it's about to start picking up," Jones said. "From what I'm hearing, there's more fish around now."

Sunday's clouds and rain drove off many participants attracted by the sunshine early in the weekend, but Jones expects to see them back next weekend.

"There's definitely not as much traffic as Saturday," he said. "But Saturday was out of control. A month's a long time and there's a lot of big fish out there."

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