Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel spins a wheel to determine the Magic Weight at the Kenai Silver Salmon Derby on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, at Three Bears grocery store in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel spins a wheel to determine the Magic Weight at the Kenai Silver Salmon Derby on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, at Three Bears grocery store in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Catch the magic silver

Silver salmon derby kicks off next week

Kenai’s fifth annual Silver Salmon Derby kicks off Tuesday, and Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander said he’s hoping for a big turnout this year.

“I’m certainly hoping that people are excited about it,” he said Friday.

Last year, Ostrander said, 136 people participated in the fishing tournament. This year, he’s hoping for even more.

“Ultimately we would love to see that number grow,” he said.

The derby — hosted by the City of Kenai, the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center and local sponsors — runs from Sept. 14 through Sept. 19.

Participants will fish the Kenai River and report to Three Bears Alaska at the end of the day for weigh-in. After all the sizes are recorded, the “Magic Weight” spinning wheels will determine the day’s target weight to the nearest one-hundredth of a pound. Whoever’s fish is closest to the magic weight wins that day’s tournament.

Ostrander said the Silver Salmon Derby stands out as a tournament because winners won’t necessarily have the largest fish.

“This is a really unique derby in that the size of the silver does not matter,” he said. “Your 4.14 pound fish could win the whole derby.”

The tournament is designed to discourage catch and release fishing, Ostrander said, which is why the competition isn’t centered on the largest catch of the day.

The adult prizes are $100 per day and $5,000 for the whole tournament, and the youth prizes are $50 daily and $1,000 for the derby. Daily winners will be announced by telephone, and tournament winners will be announced early next week.

Ostrander said half of the money raised will go toward the prizes, while the other half will be used for different habitat projects along the Kenai River.

Tickets for the tournament will be available starting Monday at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, Three Bears Alaska and Sportsman’s Warehouse in Soldotna. They are $10 for one day or $50 for the entire event.

More information is available at and on the tournament’s Facebook Page.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at

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