Who we Are: Angler gains mystique after winning salmon derby

Some want to cast next to Soriano, who caught a 34.6-pound king last year

Posted: Monday, May 07, 2007

Longtime king salmon fisherman Buddy Soriano looked over the rocks and into the waters of False Outer Point on Friday as an angler approached him.

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"Hey Buddy, where are you fishing?" the woman asked.

"Right here," he said.

"Well, then that's where I'm fishing," she said. "Just kidding."

Soriano has a reputation for being a skilled fisherman. He's so intent that he's spent entire months at False Outer Point, leaving only to get some sleep and maybe a bite to eat. Or some more bait. But since winning the Spring King Salmon Derby last year with a 34.6-pound fish, things have changed. Now people are trying to cast next to him.

He keeps things in perspective and just enjoys the beautiful surroundings. And the occasional salmon.

"It's relaxing," Soriano said. "It's about being out here and fishing."

Soriano, 57, grew up in Seattle but has lived in Juneau for about 30 years. A sales associate with the U.S. Post Office for about 24 years, he works at the Federal Building downtown. Married for about 30 years, he has three children and five grandchildren.

In his decades in Juneau, he has seen False Outer Point change from a little known spot to one that attracts a crowd.

Now the anglers stand side-by-side, and their cars and trucks fill the parking lot off North Douglas Highway. They cast herring on hooks into the pockets of water that don't have a boat floating on them.

Soriano was fishing there when only a few families knew about it. In the years that followed, he's had plenty of battles with king salmon.

He remembers one catch that took almost three hours to complete. The fish snatched the line and swam out as fast as it could. By the time he reeled it to shore, Soriano had wandered about 100 yards on foot without even realizing it. He was out of sight of where he started. He didn't have a net, so he had to think fast.

"I ran out in the water and sat on the thing," Soriano said.

Another time, he was fishing in a canoe with a friend, and a salmon struck. The fish was so big it dragged the canoe out of the bay. A boater with a net had to pull alongside and help bring the king up.

Soriano took the fish to shore then paddled back out to try again. Within minutes, he hooked another fighter. This one dragged him half the distance to Coghlan Island, he said. When he finally wore it out, he had a 28-pound king.

• Ken Lewis can be reached at ken.lewis@juneauempire.com.

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