Here are some of the results of the recently concluded Kenai Silver Salmon Derby – check out story on this year’s event below that’s running in our September issue – courtesy of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce:
The final derby mystery weight was 13.04lbs
Adult Grand Prize – Dolores Roddis (11.04lbs)
Youth Grand Prize – Abigal Craig (12.3lbs) (she also won 3 days out of the 6 for youth, had the largest fish of the derby and was the grand prize winner last year!)
153 derby tickets were sold, 40 were for the full derby, 113 were for single or multiday.
79 participants weighed in at least one fish during the derby, 13 were youth and 66 were adults!
Single fish weighed in
2nd fish weighed in
3rd fish weighed in
Total fish weighed
We raised just over $10,000 for upcoming restoration projects.
The following appears in the September issue of Alaska Sporting Journal:
BY CHRIS COCOLES
What’s billed as “The World’s Most Responsible Fishing Tournament” is living up to its mission of maintaining and preserving Kenai River salmon runs as its seventh edition arrives this month.
With both king and coho salmon fisheries seeing closures and restrictions throughout Alaska, organizers of the Kenai Silver Salmon Derby, set for Sept. 12-17 and headquartered at the mouth of the famed river, know that the proceeds they raise this year will directly benefit local salmon runs.
“There is a growing sense of excitement for this year’s derby. Each year, the number of participants and interest from sponsors has been growing,” says Liam Floyd, programs and facilities coordinator for the Kenai Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center. “And this year, we’re excited to see the first proceeds from the derby result in a conservation project.”
Floyd, with some help from local fishing community and city members, explained what that project entails.
“In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, the city is working to replace an existing culvert, installed under a city water main, with a fish passage culvert to enhance salmon habitat in Cemetery Creek, located within the (the city of Kenai),” Floyd says.
Cemetery Creek, a Kenai River tributary, was analyzed by USFWS and found to have the highest concentration of kings and coho along the lower river. But while “salmon do not spawn in the creek,” Floyd says, “smolts from upriver utilize the stream as a rearing habitat before migrating to the open ocean.”
The site, right at the mouth of the river by Kenai Municipal Airport, was toured by city officials, USFWS reps and Kenaitze tribal interests, and they spotted 1- and 2-year-old coho smolts rearing in Cemetery Creek and the culvert.
USFWS plans to provide technical direction and funding for the project. The Kenai community is providing design and construction management services, plus the Kenaitze Indian Tribe said it will apply for federal funding to help complete the plan.
“City administration proposed $5,000 be allocated from the derby proceeds, which represents the first use of proceeds toward a project,” says Floyd. “USFWS has offered the additional $25,000 for preliminary design and cost estimation needed to facilitate a grant application this fall for the remaining design and construction funds. In order to meet the fall grant application timeline, the Kenai City Council enacted legislation to appropriate the funds for replacement of an existing Cemetery Creek culvert with a fish passage culvert at its August 2, 2023 meeting.”
One of the ways this event differs from other, more traditional largest-weight-wins formats is that on each of the six derby days a “magic weight” will be determined from spins of two homemade wheels that set a weight in pounds and tenths and hundredths of a pound. Each fish of 4 pounds and above – there’s a three-fish limit per angler – is eligible to be included in the magic weight draws.
“We have received a positive response from the community on the magic weight aspect of the derby over the years. Focusing on a random weight shifts the focus from a ‘biggest fish’ derby to one that provides the community a bonus opportunity to get outdoors in a fun and healthy way while supporting the river and contributing to conservation efforts,” Floyd says.
“The Kenai Silver Salmon Derby started out as a new kind of fishing tournament that reduces selective fishing practices that lead to catch-and-release injuries, which compromise the health of the silver salmon population in the Kenai River.”
Daily awards of $100 for adults and $50 for youths are on tap, and the grand prize of $5,000 for adults and $1,000 for youths will be handed out at the end of the event. Floyd said participants can purchase tickets at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center (on weekdays only), the Three Bears store in Kenai, the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce (on weekdays only) and Sportsman’s Warehouse in Soldotna.
“The work the city and chamber of commerce have done in previous years, along with the support from local businesses and Three Bears as the official weigh-in site, have made setting up this year’s event a smooth process,” adds Floyd, who also pointed out the hard work from the start by Kenai City Manager Terry Eubank in collaborating with event partners and sponsors. “We’re excited to explore adding an additional weigh-in station, as well as additional locations for participants to buy tickets.”
COMMUNITY PRIDE SHINING
In representing the Kenai Chamber of Commerce & Visitor’s Center, Floyd is excited about the growing derby and its emphasis on helping protect the resource of returning salmon to the popular Kenai River fishery.
“This is the seventh annual derby, and we saw a lot of families and youth participating last year, as well as people who have participated since the beginning of the derby,” Floyd says.
“I think everyone can be proud of how this derby has been structured and continues to grow; it’s exciting to see Kenai have a derby that offers a chance to have fun and win prizes while giving something back to salmon habitat.” ASJ
Editor’s note: For more on the Sept. 12-17 event, go to kenaisilversalmonderby.com or email email@example.com.