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)

Wheel of fish

Silver Salmon Derby kicks off Tuesday

The Kenai Silver Salmon Derby on Tuesday kicks off a week of fishing, prizes and competition.

Hosted by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce, the event is intended to provide competition for people of any age or skill level.

Brett Perry, who is the executive director at the chamber, said “it’s going to be fun. It supports the local community here in Kenai, and it promotes sustainable fishing that will help prolong future silver salmon runs for future generations.”

Achieving the goals of both leveling the competition for all skill levels and ensuring sustainability takes just one big change, Perry said.

Instead of awarding prizes for the largest fish, which leads anglers to release smaller catches, Perry said that the target weight is randomized each night, using a wheel spun at the Three Bears in Kenai.

Any fish over 4 pounds has a chance to win.

“It’s not the biggest one only,” Perry said. “They’re not targeting specifically the largest salmon … possibly throwing smaller ones back or harming them.”

To compete, contestants must purchase tickets at either the chamber of commerce, Three Bears, or Sportsman’s Warehouse before the day of competition. Each day is $10, or a full event pass can be purchased for $50.

Fish must be caught within the Kenai River. Caught fish must be presented whole at Three Bears to be weighed. The wheel will be spun to choose the winning weight 30 minutes before the store closes.

The limit of fish is either three per day or the legal bag limit established by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, whichever is less. The bag limit fluctuates in some parts of the river, reaching as low as one.

Each day, an adult will be awarded $100, and a youth will be awarded $50.

Aside from daily prizes, overall winners will be named at an event at the chamber of commerce at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 19. Door prizes will also be awarded during that event.

The overall prize for adults is $5,000, while youths can bring home $1,000.

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