Fishermen gear up for 63rd salmon derby

Three-day contest to begin Aug. 14

Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Juneau's three-day fishing contest is back for its 63rd year with hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes.

"It's older than the state by 13 years," said Susan Listberger, co-chair of the derby.

The Golden North Salmon Derby kicks off Aug. 14 and runs through Aug. 16.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of statehood, there's a couple changes to this year's derby. Instead of the top 100 fish, only the top 50 will earn prizes - but they're bigger and better than in the past. Besides the $12,000 provided by the Territorial Sportsmen for the top fish, there are a variety of cash, gift certificate and merchandise prizes.

There also will be four "high-five" fish: one worth $100,000, one worth $50,000 and two worth $25,000. A drawing will allow ticket-holders to win $100,000 without catching a fish or even setting foot on the docks.

Listberger said that in recent years, the number of participants has gone down and the changes were made to stir up excitement about the derby again.

However, there won't be tagged fish this year and there won't be a packer at the boat weigh-in station by Shelter Island. Competitors will have to bring their fish to the weigh-in station at the docks.

"It just was very expensive," Listberger said. "So it takes away from the dollar amount given to the scholarships."

Three weigh-in stations are available to participants: Auke Bay, Douglas Boat Harbor and Amalga Harbor. Each station is open Friday and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Also new this year is the partnership between the Territorial Sportsmen, the Juneau Empire and the Capital City Weekly.

"We thought it was a good opportunity to offer up our services and do what we can to help promote the ticket sales and the scholarships," said Todd Vodnansky, advertising director for the Juneau Empire and Capital City Weekly.

Vodnansky said to look for the "swag in the bag," goodies that would be included in every bag handed out in conjunction with a ticket purchase.

"Businesses are including brochures, special offers and coupons," he said. "In the bag you'll also find the derby guide."

Only king and silver salmon are accepted in the derby. The fish caught in the derby are sold and the proceeds fund Territorial Sportsmen scholarships.

Tickets are $40 for adults and $10 for children younger than 12. Tickets are available at Alaskan & Proud, DeHart's, at the Fred Meyer customer service desk, Harri Plumbing & Heating and Western Auto-Marine.

The first Golden North Salmon Derby was held Aug. 31, 1947, though it wasn't called the Golden North until a year later. Over the years, the derby has changed what kind of fish have been accepted, where the derby boundaries are, and how much money and prizes are awarded. But regardless of the changes, the concept of a weekend of fishing, family and fun remains the same.

Notable winners of the derby include Jody Pasquan, who was 5 years old when she won in 1963, and Wayne Sutherland, who in 2000 became the first non-Alaskan to win the derby. Sheldon Winters won in 2008 with a 35.6-pound king salmon.

Territorial Sportsmen Inc. is the group that has organized the Golden North Salmon Derby since it's inception. The Territorial Sportsmen also is involved with the Family Fishing Day in June, maintains at least one Forest Service cabin a year, and sponsors Hunter Safety Education programs. The group also is involved with both the construction and the maintenance of the indoor and outdoor shooting range.

Territorial Sportsmen promotes conservation and education about the outdoors and provides scholarships for graduating seniors in Juneau and throughout Southeast Alaska.

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