As our 13th annual Kingfisher Derby kicked off yesterday there was a nervous energy in the air surrounding the 41 participants as they prepared for the noontime starting horn from Cape Naden. With a grand prize of $40000 for the largest released salmon they had reason to be excited! While there is always a strong contingent of annual entrants, many of this year’s anglers are in it for the first time.
Our signature annual derby is primarily a catch & release event where contestants call a derby Marshall on the water to come over and receive their fish as soon as they’ve netted it. The Marshall exchanges an empty net with the angler’s netted fish and then carefully measures the fish to assign a score before reviving and releasing it. There are prizes for daily catch and one prize for the largest killed salmon as well. It all makes for some interesting strategies and the suspense builds continuously until the final horn on Sunday evening. Last year’s winning fish was caught in the last 90 minutes of the derby!
While yesterday’s entries were all in the mid to high 20’s, the whole game got considerably more interesting when a non-derby boat arrived at the Bell Ringer around 8:30. Long time QCL angler Russ Burmatoff and his fishing partner Britt Vossenaar opened their fish locker to reveal a lot of gleaming chrome! And they didn’t have many fish! Everyone gathered around the scale as Britt’s stunning Tyee weighed out to 37 pounds and he celebrated by ringing the Tyee bell 3 times. When Russ’s heavy shouldered fish tipped the digital scale at 50.3 pounds he realized a dream that he’s been chasing for many years and many visits to QCL. He’d boated several fish over 40 but membership in the QCL 50 Pounder Club had eluded him! There was a roar of applause when Russ cracked the bell 5 times and took high fives all around. Congratulations Russ!
But the appearance of a 50 pounder at the start of the derby has definitely got all of the contestants primed for 2 more days of pretty intense fishing! Stay tuned!