Eagle River resident Shayna Perry made history last weekend as the first woman ever to win the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center’s Winter King Salmon Tournament.
Smiling wide, she reached for her winning fish to hold it up in front of a cheering crowd last Saturday. After a brief moment when it slipped from her hands, she straightened up again, triumphant, hands covered in blood, and hoisted it over her head.
Held each March, the one-day tournament draws anglers and boats from around the state in the hopes of catching the biggest fish.
Prizes are given out for both the largest salmon of the day and the largest white salmon.
Perry’s 26.7-pound catch on Saturday took both of those prizes.
All told, Perry took home a total payout of $72,997. That’s after side bet amounts were added to her first place prize of $28,040, according to the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, which puts on the event based at Coal Point Seafoods on the Homer Spit.
Now in its 26th year, the derby involved 1,402 anglers and 426 boats, according to a release from the Chamber.
That’s up from 1,267 anglers and 379 boats last year.
According to historical data provided by the Chamber, the 1994 tournament saw only 179 anglers.
This year, volunteers weighed in 180 winter king salmon, 37 of which were white king salmon.
On a day that started cloudy and overcast, anglers returned to the Homer Harbor in droves under a sunny sky Saturday afternoon after taking their lines out at 4 p.m. A huge line stretched along the boardwalk near Coal Point Seafoods as people waited to have their fish measured, weighed and filleted.
This year, the winner of the youth fishing award, Fletcher Darr, also placed in the top 10 anglers overall, coming in 10th with his 22.14-pound salmon.
Homer City Council member Tom Stroozas, who was there on the Spit selling raffle tickets for a brand new boat from Bay Weld Boats, said 80 tickets were sold the day of the tournament.
While Perry is the first woman to win the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center Winter King Salmon Tournament, in October 1999, Jennifer Mitchell won the Homer Elks Winter King Salmon Tournament, a different event. Mitchell caught a 27.4-pound king on her 26th birthday.
Full results of the tournament are as follows:
1. Shayna Perry – 26.7 pounds on the Stella Maris 2; $28,040
2. Chad Webb – 25.44 pounds on the Yeah Bouy; $18,226
3. William Freeman – 24.56 pounds on the La’samo; $12,618
4. Cody Dutcher – 24.52 pounds on the Time Off; $9,814
5. Bill Comer – 24.22 pounds on the Toni Marie; $8,412
6. Dustin Sena – 22.90 pounds on the Savage; $7,010
7. Jason Herndon – 22.44 pounds on the Balls Deep; $5,608
8. Luke Graham – 22.26 pounds on the Stella Maris 2; $4,206
9. Shoshana Wilhite – 22.24 pounds on the Obsession; $2,804
10. Fletcher Darr 22.14 pounds on the One Finger Jack; $1,402
Top Youth Angler: Fletcher Darr – 22.14 pounds on the One Finger Jack
Top Kayak: John Goulet – 12.73 pounds
$25 Sidebet – Laverne Mae – 21.88 pounds; $1,330
$50 Sidebet – Stella Maris 2 – 26.70 pounds; $6,370
$75 Sidebet – Stella Maris 2 – 26.70 pounds; $9,502.50
$100 Sidebet – Stella Maris 2 – 26.70 pounds; $16,660
$125 Sidebet – Stella Maris 2 – 26.70 pounds; $12,425
$150 Sidebet – Yeah Bouy – 25.44 pounds; $11,550
$175 Sidebet – Riptide – 18.18 pounds; $3,430
$200 Sidebet – Tyee – 18.96 pounds; $4,900
$250 Sidebet – River Hawk – 20.62 pounds; $2,975
$300 Sidebet – Optimist – 18.32 pounds; $3,780