The leader in the 60th Annual Sitka Salmon Derby is not resting on his laurels. In fact, he’s going to go out next weekend looking for a bigger fish.
51 year-old Bert Edenso says his catch did not fight like large kings typically do. He says it came right up to the boat, and he didn’t realize how big it was until it was over the rail.
“Wow! That’s a nice one.”
The fish weighed in at 42.6 pounds — big enough to top the leaderboard in this year’s derby, but maybe not to remain there.
Last year’s winner was over 51 pounds; the year before that, a 55-pound fish won the prize. In the last 60 years, only eight fish weighing under 50 pounds have won the Sitka Salmon Derby. But there also have been six winners over 70 pounds.
So Edenso says he and his brother Bart, and dad Robert, will head out again this weekend in the final two days of the derby to see if they can secure their lead.
And the secret’s out. Edenso says his party had Salisbury Sound almost all to themselves on Saturday, when he landed his big fish. That was not the case the rest of the weekend.
Edenso – The second day, Sunday, you should have seen all the boats that came up that way.
KCAW – So it was generally known that you caught the big one up in Salisbury?
Edenso – It sounds like it, yeah.
In fact, all three of the top fish caught so far were landed in Salisbury. Jarrett Hirai is in second place at 41.4 pounds, and Tony Balovich holds third with a 38.6 pound fish.
Edenso says he got “kicked around a bit” in Salisbury Sound’s notoriously brisk west winds on Saturday, but things calmed down through the weekend.
Edenso commercially fishes for a living. The life-long Sitkan says fishing in the salmon derby is a family tradition.
In three days of fishing, 169 derby participants landed a total of 445 kings weighing an average of almost 18 pounds. Gary Bernhardt leads in total poundage — he turned in 9 fish weighing nearly 200 pounds.
Fish caught in the Sitka Salmon Derby are sold on the commercial market in order to raise prize money. This year the top fish will win $7,500 and two round-trip first class tickets on Alaska Airlines. Second place will win an inflatable skiff and Mercury engine from Gary’s Outboard. Third place will receive $1,500 donated by Lakeside Grocery.