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By Dan Rudy 

63rd King Salmon Derby ends; awards ceremony tonight

 

Submitted Photo

This year's overall winner of the 63rd Annual King Salmon Derby, Chad Smith, weighs the 42.7-pound king salmon he caught over Memorial Day weekend. In addition to the $2,500 prize he took for the weekend, he has also won the $6,000 grand prize.

Results are in for 63rd annual King Salmon Derby, held in Wrangell from May 9 to June 7.

Chad Smith will take home the $6,000 prize for the 42.7 pound salmon he caught off Ham Island on May 24. He also bagged the $2,500 Memorial Weekend prize in the process.

Just behind him, Tim Dodson took second place with a 40-pounder caught off the Nose on May 20. Along with the $4,000, he won the $500 prize for week two, and the $250 Art Clark Pioneer Prize for largest fish entered by a senior.

Kevin Roope placed third with a 39.4 pound king caught off Ham Island on May 23, netting the $2,000 prize.

Additional $1,000 prizes will go to the other seven finalists on the ladder: Jerrie Dee Harvey, Chad Ritchie, Dustin Phillips, Alan Cummings, Irene Buethe, Shari Smith and Jim Bailey.

Ten-year-old Kendra Meissner topped this year's youth ladder, catching a 31.7 pound king salmon at Mill Creek on May 10. In addition to her $250 prize she will receive a new bike donated by Wells Fargo. Randy Churchill III was just behind her in second with a 29.4 pound king caught at Black Can on Sunday, followed by Della Churchill in third with a 27.9-pounder caught at Aaron's Creek on May 25.

Additional prizes won over the course of the derby will be awarded at tonight's ceremony, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Nolan Center. Contestants must be present at tonight's event to claim derby prizes or else have someone present to accept them on their behalf, as derby organizers can no longer ship or hold prizes.

Organizers said 912 tickets were sold during this year's derby, raising $27,200. This is just shy of last year's 930, though organizer Cyni Waddington explained more tickets will likely be sold at tonight's award ceremony. Major sporting goods outlets Angerman's and Sentry Hardware sold the most of any single vendor, at a respective 372 and 284.

With $6,525 in sales of derby booklets and another $697 in donated cash prizes, the derby raised more than $34,000. After expenses, $19,000 of this will be distributed tonight in prize money. Another $10,000 in donated prizes will also be awarded.

"It seems to have gone well," said Dawn Angerman, on the derby committee. She said several new rules adopted for this year's King Salmon Derby went without any problems, and though fish entered this year are on the smaller end of the record books, this follows a general trend.

Though more were certainly caught, just under 300 fish were weighed in this year, one of the lowest yet. Derby committee member Shawn Curley felt measures could be taken next year to make weighing in more convenient. One suggestion would be to hire someone to stay by the harbor office and maintain the scales.

"If we do that we'll see a giant increase," he said.

Member Kim Covalt said the only recommendation he'd heard was allowing anglers to use more than one rod. Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulations currently allow two to be used locally. However, the derby is unlikely to follow suit any time soon.

"We've always kept to the idea that it's for the sport of it," Covalt said. It keeps anglers on a more even keel as well, since not everyone can afford more than one rod.

 

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