40-pounder takes lead in Sitka Salmon Derby

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The 40-pound, 2-ounce king of Savanah Plank topped the derby standings on Sunday. (Photo by Sitka Athletes Association)

Sitka Salmon Derby officials hoped to see bigger fish in this year’s contest – and they may have gotten their wish.

The best fish after three days of fishing came in at 40lbs 2oz – the biggest king in the derby since 2016.

The great king was landed by Savanah Plank. She was fishing with her husband and two boys near Middle Island on Sunday when the fish fell. Plank said the king “did what the salmon did”.

“He peeled a bunch of lines three times and then we got him on the boat,” Plank said. “He never jumped or got out of the water. We couldn’t really tell how big he was until we got him in the net.

Plank said she assumed at the time the fish weighed around 30 pounds, but she had never caught one over about 20 pounds in her four years of fishing in the Sitka Derby, then that she had grown up in Ketchikan before that. Since it was their last run of the day, they removed their gear and headed to the weigh station.


2022 Sitka Salmon Derby – Unofficial Results After First Weekend

Ranking

1. Savanah Board – 40.2 pounds

2. Riley Bernhardt – 33.5 pounds

3. Caleb Gray – 31 lbs.

4. Mike Pickett – 27.7 pounds

5. Jonathan Barton – 26.4 pounds

6. Keri Gray – 25 lbs.

7. Ron Davis – 25 lbs.

8. Jackson McGraw – 24.5 lbs.

9. Erin Kitka – 24.5 lbs.

10. Mike Pountney – 24.5

Total Book Leader

1. Riley Bernhardt – 127.9 pounds

2. Scott Golden – 98.2 pounds

3. Keri Gray – 90.3 pounds

4. Chris Lillehoff – 85 lbs.

5. Steve Rampe – 81.2 pounds

6. Gary Bernhardt – 76.5 pounds

7. Erin Kitka – 71.7 pounds

8. Jackson McGraw – 71 lbs.

9. Victor Littlefield – 68.5 pounds

10. Patrick Bean Jr – 67.5 pounds


Despite the great weather, the fishing wasn’t exactly scorching during Memorial Day weekend. Winner or not, Plank was happy to see her family’s efforts pay off.

“You know, I was so excited to have a fish come in, honestly,” Plank said. “If we win, it’s a total bonus. But of course, I hope he holds on for a win, and that would be good. But it’s just fun to do. We love derby time.

Plank says this is the first time she has made the derby rankings. Last year, she won a hidden weight prize that brought in $500. If this 40-pounder stays in the lead after next weekend’s fishing, it will net him more than $5,000 in prize money, along with a host of other species and prizes donated by Sitka businesses – including the hers, the Sitka Bulk Goods store.

Riley Bernhardt currently sits in second place, with a 33-pound, 5-ounce fish, just three ounces lighter than last year’s winner. Bernhardt also leads in total pounds landed after the first three days, with 127 pounds 9 ounces. If his success continues next weekend, Bernhardt could collect $500 for first place in overall weight.

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