This year's Golden North Salmon Derby was a surprising success despite the rough seas and small craft advisories in the area.
"It was an awesome derby considering the weather," said Susan Listberger, co-chair with the derby. "We were sweating it and were worried we weren't going to have a lot of people fishing."
Participants turned in $21,880 worth of salmon to Glacier Seafoods. That's $16,000 more than last year, or nearly four times more. All of the money paid for the derby fish goes to Territorial Sportsmen scholarships for seniors in Southeast Alaska.
"The whole purpose of the derby is the scholarships," said Angie Webb, derby co-chair.
Money from last year's derby was awarded to Juneau-Douglas High School seniors Logan Balstad, Kevin Craig and Trevor Larsen.
Total ticket sales were roughly the same as last year, said Listberger, but she fears the number of actual anglers competing in the event went down.
"We don't know for sure because we sold the tickets for the raffle and for the fishing portion of the event," she said.
That was a new aspect of the derby that organizers hoped would boost participation. Any ticket holder, not just those with lines in the water, was entered into a raffle to pick someone to play a game of chance with a $100,000 top prize.
Wade Rogers had the lucky ticket, but only won $500 in the final drawing at the awards ceremony on Thursday.
Derby winner Marsha Montag said this year's tournament was an unique one compared to derbies past.
"It was an experience like I've never had before," she said. "As a whole it was a little nerve-racking because I'd never caught a fish on Friday and had to wait for so long."
Montag waited for three days to find out she indeed had reeled in the heaviest salmon of the derby. Her king salmon registered 28.6 pounds.
Second place this year went to Shane Rear, who reeled in a 25.8-pound king, also on Friday.
In all, Listberger is just happy the derby was able to happen this year. She attributes much of the event's success to not only the organizers and volunteers, but also the participants.
"My big thing is thanking all those people that fished and those that turned in their fish," she said. "If they didn't fish, there wouldn't be a derby."
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