Go fish! Sink your hook into senior savings
Nearby derbies bring fame, fortune and fish
March 1, 2021 | View PDF
Alaska doesn't have a state lottery – but you could win the jackpot in one of our salmon or halibut fishing derbies. These fishing tournaments offer big fish winners cash and other prizes. Just grab a rod, buy a derby entry ticket, and bring home the biggest fish. Just be sure to have a valid Alaska fishing license. It's free if you're over 60. While other states may set the senior age level at 65, we get it five years earlier because we've worn ourselves out faster.
Fishing and hunting licenses are free to Alaska seniors and that saves you $100 a year. Just go to https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/Store/Home/Guest to sign up online or go to an outdoor equipment store or Walmart, Fred Meyer or Carrs/Safeway.
Homer calls itself the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World and has the big fish to prove it. It's had the longest-running fish derby in Alaska, with some halibut coming in at over 300 pounds, but this year the derby has been reduced from the entire season to just two days, to help protect the resource and increase the prize money. The first-ever 2021 Annual Homer Halibut Tournament runs June 4 to June 5. Tickets are $100 each and the number of participants will determine the size of the grand prize. See the event's web page for details, http://www.HomerHalibutTournament.com.
Coming up quickly is April 17th's Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament. In 2019, during this one-day event, more than 1,400 fishermen and 425 boats entered. In 2019 (2020 was skipped due to the pandemic) the grand prize was $79,997.50. Check out http://www.homerwinterking.com.
The Seward Silver Salmon Derby, August 14-21, attracts anglers to search for the biggest silver salmon and tagged fish. Tagged fish prizes run from $1,000 to $50,000. Heaviest fish are worth their weight in Kaladi Brothers coffee plus $500 to $10,000. For sure the lure of a coffee prize will draw in caffeine fiends. Visit https://salmon.seward.com.
Seward usually holds a halibut tournament in June, but as we go to press there are no dates posted.
May 2 through Sept. 5, the Valdez Halibut Derby has weekly prizes and a grand prize of $10,000. Running close to those dates, the Silver Salmon Derby also has a $10,000 grand prize, plus daily prizes. It's women only on August 14, when prizes from $300 to $1,000 are awarded. See http://www.valdezfishderbies.com for details.
As the "Salmon Capital of the World," Ketchikan celebrates its salmon each August with three full salmon derby weekends with prizes awarded to adults and youth who catch the weightiest fish. The local radio stations get in on the excitement and broadcast updates.
Sadly, this year there is no derby. The derby committee decided the pandemic has hit local businesses so hard it doesn't seem right or ethical to approach them for prize money. See http://www.visit-ketchikan.com for information on other fishing opportunities.
Just a hop from Anchorage, Kenai's Silver Salmon Derby covers four days from Sept. 14 through 19 to support the Kenai Community Foundation that aims to better manage river banks and riparian zones in the City of Kenai. Riparian zones provide many environmental and recreational benefits to streams, groundwater and downstream land areas, and that protects the spawning fish you put on the table. This derby is the leading fundraising fishing contest in Alaska. It's raised millions of dollars for education, habitat and access through participant fees, sponsorships and auction proceeds. Visit http://www.kenaisilversalmonderby.com.
The Annual Golden North Salmon Derby in its 75th year will be held August 13 through 15. Local businesses and organizations sponsor prizes ranging from $140 to $2,000. There's not a lot of information out yet, but as the dates get closer, go to https://www.goldennorthsalmonderby.com.
With the pandemic still curtailing travel, think outside your hometown and get out into Alaska and go fishing, maybe win some money and enjoy fresh air.