The Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament turns 20 this week, and news of a 33.7-pound feeder king caught last month in Kachemak Bay should whet the appetite of any angler eager to wet a line.
The one-day tournament, which last year attracted 477 anglers who competed for nearly $65,000 in prize money, is one of Alaska's biggest single-day fish derbies.
The derby is for charter boats, private boats -- even kayakers. Executive director Monte Davis said about six kayaks are entered.
Entries close at 9 a.m. Saturday, and so far about a hundred people have entered the 20th anniversary event. Davis said.
"(But) it is always a big rush -- typical Alaska -- the last week before the tournament, so we fully anticipate it's going to be a blockbuster this year," Davis said.
The entry fee is $100, and the number of entries determines the amount of prize money for the 10 biggest fish. In 2005, a record 1,039 anglers entered -- no other year before or since has topped 900 -- and the winning fish was worth $21,819.
After several years of turnouts that reached 750 or more, last year's field dipped to 477, the lowest field since 2001. Organizers are creating several awards this year connected to the 20th anniversary in the hope numbers will go back up:
• Every fish associated with the number 20 earns $20. The 20th, 120th and 220th people to sign up get $20. The 20th-biggest and 120th-biggest fish are worth $20.
• The first person to land a fish that weighs exactly 20 pounds gets $220.
• Every 20 minutes, a door prize, usually worth $50 or more, will be drawn. Prize-winners will be announced via VHS radio, which all boats must be equipped with.
Beyond all of that, a new prize has been established this year that will award $250 to the biggest white king.
Anglers can register now and place side bets for their boats online at homeralaska.org; they can also enter by calling the Homer Chamber of Commerce at 235-7740.
If you want to enter but don't have a boat, call the Homer Chamber of Commerce (235-7740) and they can help you find a charter or private boat with space available.
Winter kings, also known as feeder kings, swim in Kachemak Bay year-round and are known for their high fat content.
On Feb. 21, Roger Long landed a 33.7-pound feeder king while fishing the bay with Driftwood Charters.