Silver Salmon Derby winners reel in record prizes

Sep 21, 2020

This year, the Kenai Silver Salmon Derby sold 136 tickets and 13 company sponsorships.
Credit Sabine Poux/KDLL

The fourth annual Kenai Silver Salmon Derby ended yesterday, awarding $3,600 in prize money to six fishermen whose fish were not too big, not too small, but just right. The city of Kenai and Kenai Chamber of Commerce are now counting the rest of the funds raised, which the Kenai Community Foundation will use for river and anadromous water preservation.

The derby, which ran from Sept. 15 to Sept. 20, awards fishermen whose catches best approximate a daily “magic weight,” randomly generated at the end of each derby day. Don Morrison was the overall winner and will receive $3,000 in prize money. That’s three times the cash the derby awarded in last year’s grand prize.

Morrison was also one of the six daily prize winners, each of whom will receive $100 in prize money. Winning catches ranged from 7.68 pounds to 22.65 pounds. This year’s prizes were the biggest the contest has seen.

No kids submitted fish this year so the derby did not award any youth winners.

Contestants entered at a cost of $10 for each day of the derby, or $50 for the whole week. Each was allotted a maximum of three catches and could enter any catch over four pounds. 

Contestants weighed their fish each day at a weigh-in station at Kenai’s Three Bears.

This year, the derby sold 136 tickets and 13 company sponsorships, said Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank.

Even without the final numbers, he said the fundraising forecast looks good.

“I don’t have a total for what we’ve raised, but I can tell you that our sponsorships were more than we’ve ever had before. I think we had 136 different tickets that were bought,” Eubank said. “That’s up quite a bit from the prior years.”

Half of all funds raised from sponsors were put toward the prize pool, while the other half were put toward the Kenai Community Foundation fund.

Henry Knackstedt is the president of the Kenai Community Foundation and a member of the Kenai City Council. He said the foundation is holding funds from all of the derbies in an account, which it will draw from when they are needed for a project. What that project will be is still to be determined.

“Really what that money is slated for, it’s not real specific use, but it has to do with the preservation, primarily of fish streams, anadromous streams,” Knackstedt said.

The Kenai Community Foundation holds $2,321.66 in proceeds from prior derbies, according to Eubank. But Knackstedt said it’s about more than just the funds.

“It certainly isn’t about the money. It’s about a fun thing to do in Kenai,” he said.

According to the Silver Salmon Derby Facebook page, the city and chamber plan on hosting a fifth annual derby in 2021.