Kodiak fisherman wins winter king tournament

Fishing by himself at an undisclosed location he described as “out in the water,” Kodiak fisherman Mike Olsen pulled in 30.40-pound winter king on his skiff, Sea Alaska, to win $27,762 in the 22nd annual Homer Chamber of Commerce Winter King Tournament.

“Fishing is fishing. It’s a matter of getting a hook in the water and getting it in front of the fish,” Olsen said.

Saturday’s fish was the only bite he had all weekend. He fished Thursday and Friday and got skunked both times.

“I caught one fish on Saturday, and it happened to be big enough to win,” Olsen said. “It was a good day.”

Chelsa Johnson of Homer took second-place with a 28.60-pound king, winning $18,508, and Raymond Tepp of Kenai took third, winning $14,542. Tepp won the tournament last year, the first recipient of a new tradition, the NOMAR vest. As last year’s winner, he got the honor of putting another NOMAR vest on Olsen.

“It was pretty cool,” said Melanie Campagne, chamber derby coordinator.

Olsen said winning the tournament brought some good luck in what had been a bad year. He commercial fishes in Kodiak, but spends the winter in Anchorage running a snow plow business. Not only was business dismal, but one of his trucks got totaled.

A cold almost kept Olsen from fishing, but he said he had a good feeling about the tournament. Olsen said he thought his winning was more faith than luck. That good feeling was God saying to go, he said.

“I kept hearing that inner being saying, ‘Go, just go.’ I credit my faith more than anything,” he said.

Dwayne Freeman, a friend dying of cancer, has been staying at Olsen’s Anchorage home, and Olsen dedicated his trip to Freeman.

“I said, ‘This trip is for you.’ It just so happens it turns into a winning trip. God works in mysterious ways,” he said.

While Olsen’s fish didn’t set a record, the tournament broke all other records: for highest prize, $27,762; most anglers fishing, 1,321; most boats on the bay, 386; and most fish landed, 590. Thanks to great tides, the 2005 record of 317 fish caught was broken before noon.

The top ten winners shared $99,150 in cash prizes, and the 11th-20th place winners shared $10,000 in merchandise. The boat side bet payout totaled $50,716.25, and skunk bets $5,135.46, with a total payout in all categories of more than $155,000.

With sunny skies and relatively calm seas, more than half theanglers came from outside Homer. Thirty-eight percent were from Anchorage, 22 percent from elsewhere in Alaska or Outside, and 44 percent from Homer.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.