Robert Rozelle shows off what’s believed to be the first king salmon of the year caught at Ship Creek on Monday evening May 15, 2017. (Photo courtesy Dustin Slinker)
One of the country's premier urban salmon fishing derbies kicks off at dawn Friday when the Slam'n Salm'n Derby begins in Ship Creek.
Fishing — and weigh-ins for lucky anglers — continues until June 18.
Defending champion Terrance Shanigan caught a 38.5-pound king last year, when the top 19 finishers all landed kings weighing at least 25 pounds.
Winning Ship Creek kings have weighed as little as 28 pounds and more than 50 pounds.
Fishing has been pretty good," noted Dustin Slinker, owner of The Bait Shack on Ship Creek, who said the first king was landed May 15. "More and more fish with each tide.We're over 100 fish landed so far."
The kings of Ship Creek are all hatchery-grown fish.Over the last five years an average of 348,107 king smolt have been released annually into the urban stream, all of them from the state's William Jack Hernandez Hatchery.
Only the Mat-Su's Eklutna Tailrace sees more hatchery kings released.
Anglers line Ship Creek 6 a.m.-11 p.m., with prizes going to anglers who pull in the 10 heaviest fish.Other prizes will be handed out to the active-duty military angler with the biggest king, a daily mystery-weight fish, the smallest jack king and for tagged salmon.
Free derby tickets are available, but a $20 donation to the sponsoring Downtown Soup Kitchen is suggested.Derby headquarters are in Alaska Railroad Plaza near Ship Creek and across from the Ulu Factory.
Anglers must be at least 6 years old, and every fisherman over 18 must have an Alaska fishing license and king salmon stamp.
Fishing is legal from the mouth of Ship Creek to a point 100 feet downstream of the Chugach Power Plant dam.
On June 17, the day before the tournament concludes, there will be a special youth fishery on Ship Creek, with a portion of the creek reserved for youngsters less than 16 years old.Rods and reels will be available from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and The Bait Shack. Free bait and advice will be available, too.
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