At noon on Sunday, the Slam'n Salm'n Derby ended with Michael Tinker still on top of the leaderboard.
Tinker's 36.2 pound king had been the biggest in the week-long competition for more than day. Other anglers rushed to get their catches weighed before the end, but nothing topped Tinker's catch, making him a first-time winner of the Ship Creek salmon derby, which benefits the Downtown Hope Center, formerly called the Downtown Soup Kitchen.
Tinker, 33, said he started fishing at the downtown creek three or four years ago. During derby season, he goes as often as he can. On Friday, he was fishing the incoming tide around 11:30 a.m. on some rocks by the bridge downtown when he caught the king. He was using eggs for bait, he said.
"It was a struggle," he said. "It kept going back up and then down."
But he got it. Then came the wait — would another angler knock him off the top of the leaderboard?
"The whole time from Friday to Saturday to the morning, I was hoping nobody caught one. I thought, man, I hope that's the fish," said Tinker, who works in maintenance.
Tinker won 200 ounces of silver from Alaska Mint Coin, which he plans to "just hang on to."
This year's derby raised about $20,000 for the Downtown Hope Center, slightly down from last year.
"I had about 350 fish and over 2,000 entries," said organizer Nicole Decker.
The Andy Sorenson Sportsman's Award went to Dustin Slinker, who owns The Bait Shack, a Ship Creek business the U.S. Army veteran started after he left the military. Slinker has been a supporter of the derby and of the downtown fishing scene for years, Decker said.
"He goes above and beyond in his services of helping people," she said. "He's a really, really great guy."
Derby leaders (through noon Sunday)
Michael Tinker, 36.20
Lance Pruitt, 33.75
Chan Seachao, 33.0
James Jones, 32.75
Martin Meigs 32.55