Fishing off an area commonly known as the bluffs, Kenai angler Raymond B. Tepp and his two buddies were about to reel in and move to a new spot Saturday afternoon. Besides not having any bites, one of Tepp’s friends was seasick, which is not the best way to enjoy the Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament or any day of fishing, for that matter.
“I told my buddy, Archie, to go ahead and move (the boat). I grabbed a pole and got about four cranks on it and it started going in the other direction,” said Tepp.
The fish on Tepp’s hook quickly pulled half the line off Tepp’s reel.
“I finally got him to stop and I couldn’t get anything back. That’s when I knew I had a good fish on,” Tepp told the Homer News on Monday.
A couple minutes later, the fish made another run, taking almost all of Tepp’s line. For the next 25 minutes it was a tug of war between Tepp and the salmon, Tepp reeling and the fish running.
“It was the best fight I’ve ever had,” said Tepp. “He finally surfaced and I saw how big he was and it was hard to keep calm then. It took us probably 10 more minutes just to get him close enough to the boat where we could get him netted.”
With the fish on board and with his friend continuing to be plagued by seasickness, Tepp decided to call it a day.
And what a day it was, with Tepp winning the 21st annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament with a 30.60-pound salmon and taking home a cash prize of $19,026. The event is sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.
A total 202 fish were caught by the 907 anglers participating in the one-day event that began with hooks in the water at 9 a.m. and ended with hooks out of the water by 4 p.m. This was the 21st Winter King Salmon Tournament sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.
The strong turnout this year topped the 700 fishermen that participated in 2013. Tepp’s salmon was a few pounds lighter than the 35.10-pound king salmon caught by last year’s tournament winner, Anchorage angler Leszek Kuligowski. However, the increased number of anglers meant Tepp took home a few more dollars than the 2013 first-place prize of $15,393.
Cash prizes were awarded to the top 10 anglers, and for several special categories: the largest white winter king caught and the largest salmon caught by an angler younger than 18 years of age.
When it came to side bets, Ron Anderson, representing the Liberty, bet that his boat would catch the largest fish in the $100 and $125 categories. With a 25.90-pound king salmon, Anderson was correct on both counts, taking home a total prize of $18,543.75.
“In my way of thinking the more people who can share in the money from this tournament, the better the tournament is,” said the chamber’s executive director, Jim Lavrakas.
New this year was cash prize for the largest king salmon caught by an angler fishing from a kayak. Although there were three kayaking participants, none of them caught a fish.
Merchandise prizes were awarded to fishermen in 11th through 20th place.
The total value of this year’s cash and merchandise prizes was $130,208.
This isn’t the first time Tepp, who was born and raised in Kenai, has fished in the annual event, but this is the first time he’s brought in the top fish.
“It’s always a good time and I’m thankful Homer puts it on,” he said. “It’s a good event for everybody to go to.”
And that prize money, well, Tepp said he already has plans.
“I’m going to give my crew a share and buy my fiancée a car,” he said.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
21st Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament
Sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center
First place: Raymond B. Tepp, Kenai, 30.60-pound king salmon, $19.026;
Second place: Eric Kjelland, Eagle River, 25.90-pound king salmon, $12,684;
Third place: Jon Bartelds, Kenai, 25.70-pound king salmon, $9,966;
Fourth place: Matt Hockema, Fritz Creek, 25.40-pound king salmon, $7,248;
Fifth place: William Lancaster, Homer, 23.90-pound king salmon, $5,436;
Sixth place: Brandon McCutcheon, Anchorage, 23.30-pound king salmon; $4.530;
Seventh place: Matt Wasson, Anchorage, 23.20-pound king salmon, $3,624;
Eighth place: Toras Fisk, Homer, 22.50-pound king salmon, $2,718;
Ninth place: Steve Whiting, Anchorage, 22.20-pound king salmon, $1,812;
10th place: Russell Geagel, Seldovia, 21.50-pound king salmon, $906.
11th place: Colton Collier, Seldovia, 20.80-pound king salmon, round-trip Anchorage to Fairbanks for two on the Alaska Railroad;
12th place: Kathy McDonough, Homer, 20.30-pound king salmon, Magnum 10 STX-TS electronic downrigger from Minekota Motors, $100 gift certificate to Captain Patties Fish House;
13th place: Wylie Donich, Homer, 19.90-pound king salmon, Magnum 10 STX-TS electric downrigger from Monekota Motors.
14th place: Jake Garner, Anchorage, 19.90-pound king salmon, halibut fishing for two aboard the “Julia Lynn,” Captain Pete’s Alaskan Experience, $100 gift certificate to Alaska Adventure Cabins;
15th place: Mark Lockwood, Kenai, 19.80-pound king salmon, 50 percent off a 2014 car rental from Adventure Alaska Car Rental, $100 gift certificate from Kachemak Gear Shed/Redden Marine, $100 gift certificate from Captain Patties Fish House;
16th place: Doug Garland, Palmer, 19.80-pound king salmon, lure bag with lures and flashers from Silver Horde Fishing Supplies, Inc., a NAPA battery from Kachemak Auto Parts/NAPA, an all-season jacket from Central Charters and Tours;
17th place: Charlie Edwards, Homer, 18.90-pound king salmon, unframed print “In the Heart of Alaska, Mt. McKinley,” by Stephen Lyman from Art Shop Gallery, $50 gift certificate from Kachemak Gear Shed/Redden Marine, an EGO Grip Tool from All Sports;
18th place: Jane Klopfer, Anchorage, 18.80-pound king salmon, Drift Creek pullover and rain jacket from Alaska WildGear, $100 gift certificate from Timber Bay B&B, Dynamax Ambush neckup from Chuck McKerney Sales;
19th place: Ariel Mercier, Sterling, 18.80-pound king salmon, certificate for a 2×6 full color outdoor waterproof banner from Printer’s Ink, $50 gift certificate from Fat Olive’s Restaurant, $25 gift certificate from The Grog Shop;
20th place: Lenny Dipalo, Kasilof, 18.30-pound king salmon, one night’s stay at Porter’s Alaskan Adventures, $50 gift certificate from Fat Olive’s Restaurant, switchblade flasher from Wigglefin Swarm.
Largest winter white king: Mark Bevans, Kenai, 17.60-pound king salmon, $250;
Bill Thompson Memorial Youth Award: Wylie Donich, Homer, 19.90-pound king salmon, $250;
John Hillstrand Memorial Award to the winning boat captain: Raymond B. Tepp, trophy.
Side bets (bet amount, winning boat, representative, fish weight, prize)
$25, Let’s Go, Bill Lancaster, 23.90 pounds, $975;
$50, Let’s Go, Bill Lancaster, 23.90 pounds, $3,900;
$75, Let’s Go, Bill Lancaster, 23.90 pounds, $5.006.25;
$100, Liberty, Ron Anderson, 25.90 pounds, $11,325;
$125, Liberty, Ron Anderson, 25.90 pounds, $7,218.75;
$150, Silver Beach, Larry Cabana, 22.50 pounds, $7,537.50;
$200, Tide Runner, Harold Richards, 22.20 pounds, $4,350;
$250, Optimist, Don Donich, 19.90 pounds, $2.062.50;
$300, Thunder Bay, Rich Bagley, 12.30 pounds, $450;
$500, no entries.
The “skunk” bet, betting a boat caught at least one fish, payout was $110 per boat with 46 winning.