Just 50 feet from Jack Cadigan's boat the Scania, a fisherman pulled in a 40-pound king salmon. Unfortunately, the man had not yet bought a ticket to enter the Spring King Salmon Derby, where the salmon would have placed second among the fish caught so far.
"Everyone should enter the derby," said Cadigan. "It's a good cause."
At 68, Cadigan was, for a time, the oldest veteran to weigh in a fish in the sixth annual fishing competition. Though the salmon was only 16.7 pounds gilled and gutted, he will try again to beat David Julian's fish, which led the pack midday Saturday at 41.8 pounds.
"This is my first May derby," said Cadigan, a 30-year veteran of the Coast Guard. "I never seem to get around to getting the boat ready in time. I'm not as agile as I once was to go out and fish from the rocks."
Pat Carothers, a veteran of 36 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, bypassed Cadigan on Thursday as the oldest vet, with an 18.9-pound king. A $100 prize goes to the oldest veteran turning in a king this year.
There are 30 prize-winners by weight in the derby, with 30th place occupied at noon Saturday by Tomoya Kawakami and a 25.5-pound king salmon.
With that "being the smallest, there's a lot of room for turning in a king," said derby Director Archie Cavanaugh.
According to Cavanaugh, the kings are running "hot and heavy" at Outer Point and the Breadline. Just about everyone is catching king salmon, including the seals.
"They're grabbing hold of the salmon right off the backs of boats," said Cavanaugh.
Some people take a different tack than casting a line from skiff or shore.
Bill Audette placed 20th in the 2001 Spring King Salmon derby with a 32.5-pounder caught from an Old Town Canoe set up with a rowing cockpit. And others fished from kayaks and rowboats.
Cavanaugh encourages people taking any approach to catching a fish to buy a derby ticket, despite the thieving seals. Proceeds from the sale of the $30 tickets go to the Tlingit-Haida Central Council Alumni Scholarship Assistance Program.
"Don't take a chance of catching a big one and not having a ticket," Cavanaugh said.
Last year, the scholarship program gave out 70 scholarships at $200 each.
"It's a good fund-raiser," said Cavanaugh. "It helps college students put Top Ramen on their tables."
Tickets can be purchased at Western Auto, Alaskan and Proud, Fisherman's Bend, Outdoor Headquarters, De Hart's, Harri Plumbing and Heating, Alaska Ship Chandlers, the Central Council and the Vocational Training and Resource Center.
The derby runs through the end of May.
Updated derby standings can be found each day on the Scoreboard page of the Juneau Empire sports section. Cavanaugh gives radio updates on the standings every Monday morning at 7:50 a.m. on KINY-AM and 8:10 a.m. on TAKU 105, and every Thursday at 7:35 a.m. on KINY. Standings may also be accessed online at www.ccthita.com.
On May 18, there will be a live broadcast from Outer Point on KINY. Participants and onlookers will gather between 4 and 6 p.m. to eat hot dogs, drink soda pop and watch people fish for kings. Derby tickets will also be for sale.
"It's an exciting event," said Cavanaugh. "There will even be a fire for marshmallows."
Emily Wescott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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