Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Edwards leading king derby


The 42-pound king salmon Mark Edwards hooked about 3 p.m. Sunday at the 36th annual Haines King Salmon Derby tried a few tricks before he reeled it in.

“She layed around, she ran off a bunch of line, she sulked for a while. She tried acrobatics and went airborne for a time. She was a very athletic fish,” said Edwards, the leader of the derby after one weekend’s fishing.

Still, he said the fish’s size surprised him. “I didn’t realize how big it was until we got her in the net.”

Edwards, who has fished nearly every derby and won the event two years ago with a 42-pound king, isn’t taking any chances that 42 will be lucky again. He said he plans to be out this coming weekend. “I think there’s a bigger one out there. I’d almost bet on it.”

Edwards’ catch was a cap on an encouraging weekend of fishing that saw catches improve each day, said derby organizer Toni DeWitt. A total of 22 kings were turned in, compared to 33 during all five days of derby fishing last year, she said. The derby continues Saturday and Sunday.

“If we catch 18 more, that would be 40 fish, but I’m hoping it will be better than that. If we can get 11 turned in on both days, that would be awesome. It wouldn’t be our best derby ever, but we could make some money on it,” DeWitt said.

An increased catch each day also was a potentially good sign, she said. Three fish were caught on Saturday’s derby opening, compared to eight Sunday and 11 Monday. All the derby fish were caught in Chilkat Inlet, a slight variation from past years when as many as one-third of kings were caught in the Chilkoot Inlet.

Edwards declined to say where he caught his lunker, but volunteered that he was using a downrigger – a device for holding bait at a certain depth in the water column – and herring. “There are so many skilled fishermen out there. We’re all pretty much using the same thing.”

Edwards also caught a 10.55-pound king Saturday and daughter Kerri Eggleston landed a 15.95-pound king Monday. The secret to catching kings is a willingness to spend time on the water, he said. His take on fishermen who haven’t caught much of anything? “They just haven’t tried hard enough. I’m married to a school teacher, so I hear that a lot.”

Results after the first week of fishing included: 1) Edwards, 42.15; 2) Jeff Klanott, 34.45; 3) Lawrence Willard, 29.25; 4) Bev Klanott, 23.85; 5) Shannon Willard, 23.00; 6) Charlie DeWitt, 22.5; 7) Elsie Hakkila, 22.2; 8) Randy Craig, 21.65; 9) Charles Williams, 21.35; 10) Jeff David Jr., 20.10; 11) Blake Curtis, 19.2; 12) Chauncey Craig, 18.1; 13) Mike Ward, 17.05; 14) Glen Mielke, 16.1; 15) Keri Eggleston, 15.95; 16) Debra Hulsman, 14.90; 17) Drew Baltzell, 8.90.

Besides Edwards, Jeff Klanott, Shannon Willard, Chauncey Craig and DeWitt also turned in smaller kings to the derby.

The derby resumes 8 a.m. Saturday.


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