Sitka Salmon Derby officials were hoping to see some larger fish in this year’s contest – and they may have gotten their wish.
The top fish after three days of fishing came in at 40-pounds, 2-ounces – the largest king in the derby since 2016.
The big king was landed by Savanah Plank. She was fishing with her husband and two boys near Middle Island on Sunday when the fish hit. Plank said the king “did what salmon do.”
“He peeled a bunch of lines three times and then we got him up to the boat,” said Plank. “He never jumped or came out of the water. We couldn’t really tell how big he was until we got him in the net.”
Plank said her guess at the time was that the fish weighed around 30 pounds, but she’d never caught one more than 20 pounds or so in her four years fishing in the Sitka Derby, and then growing up in Ketchikan before that. As it was their last pass of the day, they pulled their gear and headed into the weigh station.
2022 Sitka Salmon Derby – Unofficial results after first weekend
1. Savanah Plank – 40.2 lbs
2. Riley Bernhardt – 33.5 lbs
3. Caleb Gray – 31 lbs
4. Mike Pickett – 27.7 lbs
5. Jonathan Barton – 26.4 lbs
6. Keri Gray – 25 lbs
7. Ron Davis – 25 lbs
8. Jackson McGraw – 24.5 lbs
9. Erin Kitka – 24.5 lbs
10. Mike Pountney – 24.5
Total Pounds Leader’s
1. Riley Bernhardt – 127.9 lbs
2. Scott Golden – 98.2 lbs
3. Keri Gray – 90.3 lbs
4. Chris Lillehoff – 85 lbs
5. Steve Ramp – 81.2 lbs
6. Gary Bernhardt – 76.5 lbs
7. Erin Kitka – 71.7 lbs
8. Jackson McGraw – 71 lbs
9. Victor Littlefield – 68.5 lbs
10. Patrick Bean Jr – 67.5 lbs
Despite the beautiful weather, fishing was not exactly red hot over the Memorial Day weekend. Winner or no, Plank was happy to see her family’s efforts yield results.
“You know, I was just so excited to have a fish to enter, honestly,” said Plank. “If we win, that’s a total bonus. But of course I hope he holds out for a win, and that would be nice. But it’s just fun doing it. We just love derby time.”
Plank says that this is the first time she’s been on the derby leaderboard. Last year she won a hidden weight prize which netted $500. If this 40-pounder remains in the lead after next weekend’s fishing, it will win her over $5,000 in prize money, and a slew of other cash and prizes donated by Sitka businesses – including her own, the Sitka Bulk Goods store.
Currently in second place is Riley Bernhardt, with a 33-pound 5-ounce fish – which is just three ounces lighter than last year’s winner. Bernhardt also leads in overall poundage landed after the first three days, with 127 pounds 9 ounces. If her success continues through next weekend, Bernhardt could collect $500 for first place in total poundage.