KETCHIKAN - Kim Vicchy and her dog Molly were about to take a break on the beach Sunday when the winning fish struck her line.
"I thought it was a halibut," she said Tuesday. But after about a 20-minute fight, she netted a 51-pound king salmon and won the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce King Salmon Derby, leading a field of 30 fish.
The big salmon went for a whole herring dragged behind a 10-ounce lead weight and a flasher, said Vicchy, an administrative supervisor for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Ketchikan.
Vicchy fished from the 16-foot skiff of her co-worker Bert Lewis, who called her early Sunday morning. Lewis had purchased a downrigger the previous day and planned to attach both fishing lines to it, she said.
"I said, 'No, I don't need to be on the downrigger. I'll just hold my pole, because that's fishing, holding your pole,'" she said.
Lewis insisted on the downrigger, then realized he didn't have all the gear he needed to attach Vicchy's pole, she said.
The two left the harbor at 9 a.m. in Lewis' skiff and were trolling by 9:45 a.m. They didn't have a bite for two hours and Vicchy wondered if they weren't trolling too fast.
"We were passing everybody," she said.
They were moving along near the shore when Vicchy told Lewis she and her chocolate Labrador needed a pit stop on the beach. As the skiff made one last pass before heading for shore the line on her pole, in a rod holder, zinged twice. Then, nothing.
"I picked it up, thinking it was the bottom," she said.
It was the fish. The fight lasted 20 minutes.
Vicchy, an 18-year Ketchikan resident, recalls going derby fishing only one other year, in the early 1990s.
"But I was probably out there as the sandwich maker," she said.
sitting around," she said. "The guys were fishing."