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Monday, 30 March 2015 00:00

2015 Homer (AK) Winter King Salmon Derby

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This was the 22nd annual derby for winter kings in Homer, AK. Exceptional weather, road conditions, and number of fish attracted a record crowd. 1,324 anglers on 386 vessels caught 590 King Salmon. All those numbers shattered previous records. Anglers were competing for the top prize of $27,762, plus side bets totalling nearly $25,000 more dollars, making that single fish worth over $50,000!

This was the second year the event had a kayak division. Last year, no kayak angler caught a fish, so the title of “First Kayak Division Winner” was still up for grabs. Seven kayakers paid the $10 entry fee to try their luck. Two out of seven would land a king. A third narrowly missed a fish at boatside. Had the kayakers landed the third fish, things would have been interesting.

Of course, the power boats lost plenty of fish as well. But if you look at the overall numbers, there were 0.45 fish caught per angler registered. Keep in mind the limit is two fish per day, so it’s not per angler but per angler registered. The third fish for the kayakers would have made our average 0.43 fish per registered kayaker. Given that the area we fish is not known to be a hot spot for kings, that really gives an indicator of the effectiveness of the kayaks.

Rewind to Friday, when I prefished with two fellow kayakers. I had a strike within the first five minutes of fishing, and it was to be the only fish I caught on Friday. I caught it on a chrome Silver Horde “Coho Killer” spoon behind a Big Al “Fish Flash Flasher”, behind 12oz of weight.

On tournament day, I started with the same lure. In the first hour I got a great strike as my rod buried into the water twice, then nothing… Pulled up the gear, and my 40 lb fluorocarbon leader was cleanly severed above the spoon. Shark? Not sure. I switched to herring, but no love from the kings. Towards the end of the day, I switched to a black-and-white Coho Killer spoon and immediately got a strike.

I landed a 16.2lb fish that ended up being the largest kayak caught fish for the day. The second-place kayak fish was 13.5 lbs. To put things in perspective, the overall derby winner was 30.4 lbs. The 20th place was 23 lbs. The victory was simply entering a fish so that I could finally say after my third year that we entered a kayak caught fish for the first time ever for this particular derby! The goal next year is to win it all!

Photo by Michele Carter

Here’s a video of the two fish. It’s little long - five minutes - but it’s actually amazing to think I landed both fish in that time. I would say between the lag in starting the GoPro and editing out the first noisy bits while adjusting the camera, I only lost a total of thirty seconds of video. It really tells you how efficient these kayaks are as a fishing tool.

We had a great time, and will definitely do it again next year!

Read 7549 times Last modified on Monday, 30 March 2015 13:36
Rudy Tsukada

Grew up in Kenai, now live in Anchorage, Alaska.  I have been fishing for over 40 years but this is my first real year kayaking.  Started with a Malibu Mini-x bought from craigslist.  Got to do some crazy things.  Pull shrimp pots from 400 ft, catch a couple of kings, a few halibut and now cohos.

Recently upgraded to an Hobie Outback.  Great yak!

The only con so far about Kayak fishing is the addictive nature.  This is going to cause a serious issue with the other activities competeing for my time.

More in this category: « King for a Day Puget Sound Pinks »

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