Unalaskans hit the ground running, headed for the creeks and bays earlier this month when the island's annual Silver Salmon Derby began. The Unalaska Department of Parks, Culture, and Recreation's event ended Sept. 14 and several prizes were awarded through daily drawings and given to participants who submitted the largest fish overall.
This year's top contestants weighed in neck and neck. But for veteran fisher and previous derby winner, Landen Shaishnikoff—who took second place in this year's event and has been fishing in Unalaska waters his entire life—the derby is just an added element of fun to catching silvers—his favorite fish to catch on a pole, he said.
"They're fun to catch in the creek and they put up a good fight and that's always been my favorite," said Shaishnikoff. "I always try and participate in the salmon derby because I'm fishing anyways, so I might as well try and win something."
Shaishnikoff said he caught his prize-winning salmon at Nateekin Bay. But other participants, including this year's first prize winner, Nick Tutiakoff, were less willing to share their secret spots and methods.
Deklan Nettleton—a ten-year-old who took first place in the derby's youth category—refused to give up any details.
"No, that's where I caught my 13-pounder so I don't want to [share]," said Nettleton.
Nettleton said the 13-pound catch is his record salmon. And like Shaishnikoff, he has been fishing in Unalaska since he was very young. When asked if he used any special techniques, Nettleton playfully replied that he usually just likes to "cast."
Champion Nick Tutiakoff's winning salmon weighed in at 11.78 pounds. Shaishnikoff came in close behind with an 11.5-pound catch, and in third place, Asia Vernon's salmon weighed 11.22 pounds. In the youth category, Nettleton's winning fish was 10.4 pounds.
Gerwin Mateo won the biggest fish of the day on Labor Day, taking home his choice of D1 gravel or three yards of concrete.
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