Christine Cunningham, Assistant to the Kenai City Manager, shows off a silver salmon she caught for the 4th annual Kenai Silver Salmon Derby in this undated photo. (Courtesy Christine Cunningham)

Christine Cunningham, Assistant to the Kenai City Manager, shows off a silver salmon she caught for the 4th annual Kenai Silver Salmon Derby in this undated photo. (Courtesy Christine Cunningham)

Kenai derby wraps up successful tournament

The derby sold 136 tickets and received 13 company sponsorships

Despite being held during a global pandemic, the City of Kenai’s 4th annual Silver Salmon Derby saw an increase in ticket sales from the previous year and gave away more cash prizes than ever.

The derby, which took place from Sept. 15 to Sept. 20, sold 136 tickets and received 13 company sponsorships, including from Three Bears, Phillip Scales, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Grant Aviation, Arby’s Kenai, TOTE Maritime, Fishe, East Rip, First National Bank Alaska, Buckets Sports Grill and Northrim Bank.

Christine Cunningham, assistant to the Kenai City Manager, said Tuesday that 90 tickets were sold last year, which means the derby saw an increase in attendance of about 50%.

The derby is billed as “The Worlds Most Responsible Fishing Tournament” because prizes are given out based on a randomly selected “Magic weight” each day — rather than the biggest fish — so competitors aren’t tempted to overfish or catch and release in order to land the biggest salmon possible. Prize amounts totaled $3,600 this year, which is the most awarded since the beginning of the tournament in 2017, according to a Tuesday release from the city.

This year’s overall grand prize of $3,000 went to Don Morrison, whose 12.62-pound salmon was closest to the Overall Magic Weight of 19.07 pounds.

Half of the money raised from the event was donated to the Kenai Community Foundation, which manages and protects river banks in the Kenai, according to the release. Cunningham said the other half was used for the prize pool and to cover the cost of the event.

Kenai Silver Salmon Derby Winners

Overall Winner — Don Morrison

Fish weight — 12.62 pounds

Magic weight — 19.07 pounds

Sept. 15 — John LaPoint

Fish weight- 11.23 pounds

Magic weight — 14.89 pounds

Sept. 16 — Don Morrison

Fish weight — 12.62 pounds

Magic weight — 22.65 pounds

Sept. 17 — Donald Sutherland

Fish weight — 10.54 pounds

Magic weight — 17 pounds

Sept. 18 — Sam Grosvold

Fish weight — 9.89 pounds

Magic weight — 15.47 pounds

Sept. 19 — Errol Severson

Fish weight — 7.73 pounds

Magic weight — 7.68 pounds

Sept. 20 – Mary Bondurant

Fish weight — 11.58 pounds

Magic weight — 11.14 pounds

Learn more about the event at

Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at

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