After four weeks, man's 32.9-pound king salmon declared derby winner

Posted: Sunday, June 01, 2008

Norman Zura waited for four weeks to see if his 32.9-pound fish would win the Spring King Salmon Derby.

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Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

A slightly heavier fish was caught, bumping him into second place - but the fish hadn't been gutted when weighed and was disqualified. Zura was shocked when he found out that he was still in first place.

Finally, on Saturday the wait was over and Zura realized that he had won the 12th Spring King Salmon Derby.

"I've been fishing all my life pretty much. This is my first time entering the derby," Zura said.

He landed the winner by casting a herring from shore at False Outer Point, the deep drop-off known as a hot spot for spring kings. It was high tide when Zura got there, and he considered going home because the fishing is better at low tide.

Zura stuck it out and fished for three hours before he hooked into the king salmon.

"It bit like a bull head, and I was getting tired of these bull heads, so I just yanked it and it started taking off. I didn't know it was that big until it came on the beach," Zura said.

The winning fish was Zura's first king salmon of the year, and he battled it for 15 minutes before landing it.

Zura thought his fish would be too small to win the derby.

"I didn't think this fish would hold all the way tell the end," Zura said.

He plans to use his $5,000 prize money for college fees. He also won two airline tickets, which he will give to his parents. All told, he won $5,000 in cash and $2,600 worth of prizes.

"My dad bought me the (derby) ticket," Zura said. He estimated that he spent 14 days fishing all together during the month of May.

Second place went to Dylan Kubley, 16, who turned in a 31.45-pound fish on the last day of the competition. His fish was only one pound lighter then Zura's fish.

"Right when he hit he jumped out of the water and I saw how big he was," Kubley said.

He caught his fish near Icy Strait and the boundary line set by derby rules. The family was breaking in a new boat engine and was not able to troll.

"All we had was a little inflatable zodiac with a 2.5 horse kicker," Kubley said. "Right off the kelp beds we nailed him and realized we didn't have a gaff or a net. So we beached the boat. I jumped out and (the fish) made a couple runs. I got him close enough to the beach where I could grab him in the water... pretty much tackled him and hit him with a rock and he was done."

Kubley caught the king salmon in 10 feet of water. His mother, Tracey Kubley, placed second in the 1998 Spring King Salmon Derby with a 39.3 pound fish.

Derby organizer Leslie Isturis said there were 750 derby tickets sold this year, but the organization raised about $10,000 less than last year. The money goes toward scholarships for Alaska Natives through the Tlingit-Haida Central Council.

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