Ketchikan angler Kevin Hansen’s 43.2-pound king salmon held on to the top rung of this year’s Ketchikan CHARR King Salmon Derby, winning the three-weekend event that ended Sunday.
Hansen caught the fish the opening weekend of the 65th annual derby. His king was turned in at the Clover Pass Resort weigh-in station at noon on the second day of the tournament.
Hansen said he was trolling with a herring and flasher at about 70 feet, and not having much luck. Then suddenly: Fish on.
“It drilled the pole holder and pinned the pole to the holder and just started spooling line,” he said. “As soon as I got a hold of the rod and felt how heavy the fish was, I knew it was pretty big, but you never know for sure.”
Hansen said the fish fought hard for about 30 minutes, taking off about five times before Hansen and his fishing companions could get a net under it.
“It’s pretty nerve-wracking when you get them to the boat and you see how big the fish is and the huge head shakes trying to shake your hook and you’re doing all you can do to keep tension on the line and keep that hook in the mouth,” he said.
Hansen said they ran the fish to the weigh station right away, and didn’t even take the hook out until they arrived at the dock, to minimize weight loss through bleeding.
Hansen’s fish will net him the derby’s $10,065 cash purse.
The second-place fish is a 38.6-pound king caught by Mathew Murphy.
In the youth division, Cassandra Adams took the top prize with her 27.6 lb king, caught the second week of the derby.
Cassandra said she didn’t think the fish was very big when she first hooked it.
“At first I thought it was just a little shaker,” she said. “That it was just going to be a little tiny fish. Then it started to fight really hard and it was hard to reel it up.”
Cassandra said this is the first year she turned in a derby fish.
Organizer Russell Thomas said that 695 fish crossed the dock for the 2012 derby, weighing a cumulative 11,800 pounds.
“Participation was down slightly over what it was before and the number of fish caught were down slightly from what they were before, so we were a little bit disappointed by that,” he said. “We always like to see more participants and more fish, but overall I think everybody that participated had a great experience.”
Thomas said he wasn’t sure why the numbers were down.
“I think we have a contingent of hard-core derby fishermen that are going to fish no matter what, and then we have some people that have a lot of other factors involved, like if they have access to a boat,” he said.
Thomas said a new no-snagging rule might have discouraged some anglers who historically fish from shore at Herring Cove.
“There was enough pressure from participants that they wanted, they felt like snagging was not in keeping with the sporting nature of the derby and the committee heard a lot of comments from participants and sponsors both that felt like, that if we were going to maintain the integrity of the derby it was important for us not to allow snagging. We made that decision to implement that rule and I don’t think it’s going to change,” he said.
The annual derby awards ceremony is set for 6:30 p.m. June 22 at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.
A complete list of unofficial derby results is online at www.ketchikankingsalmonderby.com. Results will be certified next week.