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

3rd Annual Coho Derby begins next week


September 10, 2020

The Haines Sportsman’s Association third annual coho derby is scheduled to kick off next week, with some changes to accommodate pandemic mitigation including photo check-ins to promote catch and release should a participant not choose to eat their catch.

“There are no Canadians coming this year so we figure it should be a good year for locals to catch fish and win all the prizes,” Sportsman’s Association president Dave Long said. “Our goal is to get locals out fishing, family style, or with proper distancing and see our beautiful fall scenery, get a fresh meal, and win money and prizes.”

The derby beings Sept. 15 and lasts through the end of October. Tickets cost $25 and should be available for sale at Alaska Sport Shop and Outfitter Sporting Goods in the coming days. There are an adult and two youth categories. Ages 5-10 can enter the derby for free.

The top three prizes will be awarded for the three largest fish. The first-place finisher will win $1,000. Everyone who buys a ticket will be eligible for a raffle for prizes including round-trip airline tickets and other donations from local businesses.

“If people want to release them then they can take a picture and send them to our email account we have set up to photo check the fish so there can be a catch and release,” Long said.

Photos can be sent to

The Canadian border is still closed to nonessential travel and roughly 30% of the derby’s annual ticket sales have gone to Canadians, Long said.

This year’s derby will also ensure a local participant wins. Canadians have taken home first-place awards in 2018 and 2019.

All proceeds from the derby will go toward scholarships. The Sportsman’s Association gives two $500 awards to graduating seniors each year.

“I think we had 75 to 100 entries in the last two seasons,” Long said. “This is our only fundraiser for our scholarship fund.”

Alaska Department of Fish and Game sport fish biologist Rich Chapell said the department is expecting an average Coho return this fall, and that staff have counted more than 100 cohos passing the Chilkoot River weir as of Tuesday.

“The early showing on the Chilkoot River is pretty good,” Chapell said. “We have 130 fish through the weir already, which is above average.”

The Chilkoot River typically sees a coho run of 1,000-4,000 fish, which is earlier than the Chilkat River run, Chapell said.

“The Chilkat fishing in the Chilkat River starts in late September and peaks about the middle of October. So far the fishwheel catches have been pretty low, but it’s still early,” Chapell said.

The Chilkoot River corridor is closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic for at least the next three weeks due to road construction, but river access is available near the bridge.


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