Juneau resident and long-time angler Tina Bergam is the new leader midway through the 35th annual Spring King Salmon Derby with a 34.75-pound prize catch. No thanks, that is, to her fishing partner Al Savickko.
"Most people just have to fight the fish," Bergam said. "I had to fight the fish and my partner off."
Bergam and Savickko have been partners in several past derbies, but decided to try out some new territory on what they called the "Tee Harbor Breadline" between Tee Harbor and the Shrine of St. Therese last week. Bergam formerly had to "beg, borrow and steal" to find a seat on a boat around derby time, but recently purchased her own 20-foot Sportsman Chris-Craft while working in Wrangell. Trying out the new territory was all a part of the freedom that comes as a boat-owner, according to Bergam.
"I finally got my own boat and we're fishing where I want to fish and how I want to fish when I want," she said. "I absolutely love my boat."
Bergam's fish is more than four pounds heavier than second-place Gary Hedges, but the current leader said she wouldn't be surprised if somebody topped her.
"I'm not holding my breath - we still got two more weekends left," Bergam said. "But I am crossing my fingers."
DeHart's Auke Bay Store employee and tackle shop operator Craig Jones officially weighed Bergam's fish in, and knew he was looking at the new leader as soon as she slapped the fish on the counter.
"I knew it was going to break the 29-pound line," Jones said. "I hope it will be the winner, but last year the same fish led most of the month and then it was won on the last day."
Like Bergam, Jones said an unusually large number of anglers have been pulling in contenders from the Tee Harbor area. Most fish, though, have been between 25 and 28 pounds thus far.
"Other than (Tee Harbor) it's just been one here, one there," Jones said. "There's quite a few more people out than in the past years that we've been a weigh-in. I think the weather's still forcing people out there."
Juneau Empire ©2013. All Rights Reserved.