Kenai Chamber plans silver salmon derby

Move over, Seward — the Kenai River will get its own silver salmon derby this fall.

The Kenai Chamber of Commerce is planning a derby for silver salmon anglers from Sept. 6–18 on the entire Kenai River. With categories for adults and kids, anglers will compete for the heaviest fish and a chance at cash prizes, according to an announcement sent out Tuesday.

The chamber has been casting around the idea of a Kenai River salmon derby for years, said Kenai Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Operating Officer Johna Beech. The idea went dormant after the disastrously low king salmon returns to the river in 2012, but five years later, the chamber is ready to give it a go, she said.

“We’s kicked it around for the last month or so, crossing Ts and dotting Is, and we just decided, ‘Let’s do it,’” she said.

The Kenai River derby will have weigh stations, and participants will have to buy tickets to participate in the tournament before going out to fish, similar to Homer’s Halibut Jackpot Derby or the Seward Silver Salmon Derby, which is scheduled for Aug. 12–20 this year. That way, people can participate whether fishing on their own or with a guide, Beech said. The Kenai Chamber of Commerce staff and board will work out specific rules in then coming months, she said.

While anglers line the banks of the Kenai River for most of the summer between May and October, the derby will offer the chance for another draw to the central Kenai Peninsula a little after the peak of tourism season in July and early August, she said.

“We do hit two weekends with these dates,” she said. “It’s a draw to get people down for the shoulder season for our tourism businesses.”

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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