Last Dance

Sitka Fine Arts Camp elementary age campers dance with instructor Brendan Jones in their final day of camp today at the Sheldon Jackson College Campus. Middle School Camp, for grades seven thru nine, begins Monday. Registration is still open at 907-747-3085. (Sentinel Photo by Klas Stolpe)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Seven-Year-Old Angler Leads Salmon Derby

By SHANNON HAUGLAND

Sentinel Staff Writer

Seven-year-old Caleb Gray recalled his reaction to catching his derby-leading 32.5-pound king salmon Monday as:

“‘Woohoo! Yeah!’”

With his catch, he rose to the top of the leader board at the end of the first weekend of fishing in the 68th Sitka Salmon Derby, sponsored by the Sitka Sportsman’s Association.

With two more days left in the derby, next Saturday and Sunday, here is the leader board so far:

1. Caleb Gray, 32.5 lbs

2. Riley Bernhardt, 29.5 lbs

3. Kenny Gray, 28.5 lbs

4. Adam Olsen, 26.5 lbs

5. Neil Akana, 25 lbs

6. Jared Nelson, 24.5 lbs

7. Rebecca Olsen, 24.5 lbs

8. Caleb Gray, 24 lbs.

9. Jake Peterson, 22.5 lbs

10. Calvin Boord, 22.1 lbs

11. Victor Littlefield, 22 lbs

12. Parker White, 22 lbs

Kenny and Caleb Gray (Photo Provided)

Derby organizers described the first three days as relatively slow, but 276 kings were turned in by 94 participants.

Marsha Lysons, SSA fish statistician, said the weather was probably the worst she’s seen for a derby, “but the ones that went still seemed to be enjoying their time on the water and with friends and family.”

Caleb was out fishing with dad Kenny Gray of Sitka, and grandpa Keith Gray, who flew in from Kodiak to participate for the first weekend. The three had good luck in a spot south of town, which they’re keeping under wraps for now.

Caleb caught two fish a day on Saturday and Sunday, including a 24-pound king on Sunday. He described the weather as “rough and wavy and nice” throughout the weekend, with the two Grays turning in their limit of fish to the F/V Partisan at the Goddard weigh-in station Saturday and Sunday.

The first big surprise of Monday was when Kenny caught a 28.5-pound fish in a kelp bed, to place himself on the leader board in the morning, He remains at third place.

But the bigger surprise was yet to come, around noon on Monday. Caleb said he didn’t know how big the fish was when he felt the king bite, but was able to re-enact for the Sentinel the sound of the line paying out as the fish ran about 100 feet two times before the seven-and-a-half year old successfully landed it.

When Caleb was asked if he knew his fish was big he said he thought it might be “bigger than Riley’s.” He was referring to his teammate, Sitka High School rising sophomore Riley Bernhardt, the derby leader at the time with a 29.5-pounder. (The team competition is new this year.)

Monday’s fish were all turned in at the Crescent Harbor weigh-in station, which organizers call “Salmon Central.”

Caleb said he enjoyed “fighting” with the fish, and is looking forward to next weekend, when he and Kenny will be joined by mom Keri, a Sitka High math teacher; and baby sister Chloe, who is a month old. They’ll be fishing on the same boat, the family’s 29-foot North River aluminum vessel which doesn’t yet have a name.

New this year in the competition is the Chuck McGraw Jr. memorial contest, a team-fishing challenge that will reward those who enter the greatest daily poundage of fish.

Also on Caleb and Kenny’s team are Riley and Gary Bernhardt, who are fishing on another boat.

The leaders in the total pounds category:

1. Caleb Gray, 125.9 lbs, 6 fish

2. Riley Bernhardt, 115 lbs, 6 fish

3. Kenny Gray, 100.2 lbs., 6 fish

4. Erin Kitka, 93.4 lbs’, with 6 fish

5. Jack Haley, 86.9 lbs., 6 fish

6. Jared Nelson, 85.4 lbs.

7. Morgan Enfiejian, 78 lbs., 6 fish

8. Neil Akana, 73.5 lbs., 5 fish

9. Lola Haley, 73.2 lbs., 6 fish

10. Gary Bernhardt, 68.7 lbs., 5 fish

11. Charles Clement, 68.3 lbs., 6 fish

Fish entered in the derby are sold to Sitka Sound Seafoods, with proceeds going toward operating the next year’s derby and funding scholarships.

Derby fish are weighed in the round. The prize for the biggest fish is a pair of Alaska Airlines vouchers worth up to $2,500 along with $10,000 cash. Second place wins $5,000, while third is a power hauler. There also are many other prizes that are based on the ranking by weight of fish entered.

Last year’s derby winner was Savanah Plank, with her 40.2 pound Chinook.

Looking ahead to next weekend, John McCrehin, SSA president and derby chair, said the forecast is calling for nicer weather with less wind.

 

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20 YEARS AGO

June 2004 

Advertisement: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Caring Employee of the month! Franklin Thomas Hospital Nutrition Services.

50 YEARS AGO

June 1974

Edna Revard is enjoying a much-deserved vacation: she and youngest son Joe are in Italy visiting her older son, Jack, his wife and child. Jack is with the military, stationed in Italy. Edna will be gone a month, the crew at Revard’s Restaurant says.

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