Ship Creek welcomes first king salmon of the season and the return of the annual fishing derby

The kings are in and the derby is back at Ship Creek.

Anchorage’s downtown fishery yielded its first king salmon of the season nearly two weeks ago, and the annual Slam’n Salm’n Derby is set to run June 11-20 after a summer off because of the pandemic.

Darren Jueneman netted the first official catch of the season around 8:30 p.m. on May 16, a 16.5-pound fish he caught on an incoming tide, according to Dustin Slinker of the Bait Shack.

“This gal was covered in sea lice. They really do not get any fresher than this,” Slinker said in a Facebook post.

It’s oFISHal!!!! 1st Ship Creek King Salmon was hooked and landed tonight at 8:30 p.m. Darren Jueneman was the lucky...

Posted by The Bait Shack on Sunday, May 16, 2021

Fishing was good for several days after Jueneman’s catch, but Slinker on Thursday said things have slowed down a little.

“The water is coming up and it’s getting nasty,” he said. “But it’s supposed to rain, and in another seven days that creek will start to clean up.”

The king salmon derby will offer an ounce of gold and $1,000 to the winner and other prizes will be up for grabs, Slinker said. There will be divisions for men, women, military and kids under 18.


On June 19, the second Saturday of the derby, a portion of the creek will be limited to kids for the 5th annual Youth Fishing Day. Slinker said the event typically draws 300 to 400 kids who get the section from the C Street bridge to the Bridge Restaurant to themselves that day.

The derby, which dates back to 1993, is a fundraiser for the RiteCare Foundation, the Downtown Soup Kitchen, Hope Center and the Alaska Sport Fishing Association.

Headquarters for the event is the Bait Shack near the Bridge Restaurant on the north shore of Ship Creek, where tickets will be sold and fish will be weighed. The bait-and-tackle shop opened for the season Thursday.

Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.