2016 Slam’n Salm’n Derby reels in plenty of fun
High tide — and therefore, good fishing — arrives at nearly midnight Friday evening. But with the sun setting at 11:36 p.m., there is no darkness to deter fishermen from competing in the first day of the 2016 Slam’n Salm’n Derby.
The derby has been the largest fundraiser for the Downtown Anchorage Soup Kitchen for a decade.
“I love fishing, I love salmon and this is for a good cause,” said fisherman Jay Eatherton. “It’s just a win-win all the way around.”
He has had little luck during the few hours he has been casting into Ship Creek, but his spirit hasn’t dwindled.
“If I catch something, great. If not, I’m out here enjoying the beautiful weather,” said Eatherton.
Some people have had a more fruitful day at the derby; the heaviest fish brought in Friday weighed 37.55 pounds.
“Everybody has their passion. This is mine,” said Mike Hidalgo, a member of the Slam’n Salm’n committee who has been volunteering for the derby since its genesis.
He said the urban setting of Ship Creek makes the derby unique.
“This is the only urban derby where you can sit down and catch a beautiful king salmon [while] at the same time looking at the Hilton hotel or the city skyline,” said Hidalgo.
It’s that access to the outdoors that brought Eatherton to Anchorage in the first place.
“I love it. I can’t ask for anything better,” said Eatherton. “There’s no such thing as a bad day up here.”
The derby runs through June 19. Tickets to participate are free, but a $20 donation is encouraged. There are many prizes awarded each day and at the end of the competition; several are worth upwards of $1,000.