The solstice celebration on March 20 will probably be somewhat sedate due to the fact that it’s been pretty much a spring-with-a-cold for most of the winter.
The weather’s been so mild that this is the first year local sourdoughs can remember more green grass on the ground than under grow lights.
Be that as it may, soon things will truly heat up when fisherpersonages start thundering into town in search of chinooks and buckets of cash during the 2015 Winter King Tournament on March 21.
If the past few months are any indication of what’s lurking under our pristine waters, trolling success for oncorhynchus tshawytscha a.k.a blackmouth badasses could run from righteous to rippin’ hot as the tide changes that day.
The growth of the contest has been amazing since its launch back in 1994 when the entry fee was $25 and 38 boats hit the water. That first year, 179 anglers brought back 51 kings with the winner tipping the scales at 29.36 pounds worth $1,760.
Compare that to last year when 906 fishing fanatics forked over a $100 fee and then charged out into the bay in 270 vessels where 202 kings found deck space. A 30.6-pound head shaker took first place and provided $19,026 to the successful piscatorian, Raymond Tepp of Kenai.
A total of $130,209 was paid out in cash and prizes with $115,725 of it in cool greenbacks. Not bad for a day on the bay.
If it wasn’t for the ice cold water and the survivor potential of a hefty clawed Dungy in a restaurant’s live tank, there’d probably be folks with IQs lower than their box lunch contents flipper trolling in inner tubes just to take a shot at the gold.
Caution: Before you join in the marine merriment, make sure you and your gear are prepared so you don’t end up like the guy who had a huge take-down during the 2005 competition. As the fight progressed, his buddies on the boat figured he had hooked either into the winning fish or a Navy SEAL. The battle went on for about 10 minutes before his reel suddenly froze. It was a super suck situation that ended in catastrophe when the line snapped for the lack of a functioning drag. Rumor has it he retired his reel with the aid of a moderate explosive and refuses to admit that he was anywhere near that year’s tournament.
Pay attention to details. No one wants to be mentally kicked in the teeth by losing a big money fish for the lack of common sense and a couple of cents worth of 3-in-1 oil. You’ll never forget nor will your buddies.
Speaking of being prepared and organized for the event, no matter what you spend on boats, gear, guides, and enough snacks to clog your arteries between tides changes, you are still going to require a couple of more items to make everything work. Basic stuff like submitting your official entry form along with a “C” note and making sure the vessel you’re on has an assigned number before leaving the harbor is an excellent start.
The Homer Chamber of Commerce has a super web site containing all the information you need to know about the tournament including entry forms, contest rules, and side bet details. If you have any questions, give them a call at 907-235-7740 or check out www.homerwinterking.com.
Note: There has been a change in the side bet percentages this year.
The boat side-bet share of the winnings have been reduced to 65 percent with the chamber receiving the other 35 percent.
When asked about the adjustment, Karen Zak, the chamber’s new executive director, explained: “I would like to first clarify that the 75 percent of registration fees still goes to the top 10 places. This remains unchanged. There have been no changes in the percentage of the side bets in 10 years, yet advertising costs have increased, staff and overhead have increased, and the biggest game changer, we are now purchasing food for participants, which in the past was donated. In order for the tournament to operate, it must be sustainable and a financially sound event for the chamber to execute. …We look forward to successfully continuing this very important event to our community and to our chamber.”
’Nuff said. Good luck out there and stay safe.
Nick C. Varney is the Reeling ’Em In columnist for the Homer News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Homer’s Winter King Tournament
When: March 21
Lines in for all boats at 9 a.m.; lines out for all boats at 4 p.m.
Check tournament rule No. 9 for weather delay contingencies.
Entry Fee: $100
Weigh in: All fish must be weighed in by the registered angler by 6 p.m.
Registration: All vessels must have a number assigned from tournament headquarters (Coal Point Trading; 235-3877; open at 7 a.m.)prior to leaving the harbor on the day of the tournament.
Rules: Participants are responsible for the sports fishing regulations for the waters they intend to fish and with all tourney rules.
All vessels must have a VHF radio or cell phone aboard. A representative from each vessel must check in by boat number by 6 p.m. at tournament headquarters 235- 3877 or VHF#69 upon safe return to the harbor.
The post tourney victuals will be served from the Big Dipper Chipper Double Decker bus owned by Harrison and Heather McHenry who are also the proprietors of the Fresh Catch Café. Selections include fish and chips (cod) with coleslaw; smoked beef sandwich with fries and coleslaw; clam chowder with sourdough bread.