Locals reel in top Derby prizes
Seward Chamber of Commerce
Earl Cagle shows off his big fish, the heaviest in the derby at 16.14 pounds, that won him the $10,000 prize
Sewardites took home both big prizes in this year’s Seward Silver Salmon Derby.
Earl Cagle hauled in the $10,000 big fish, 16.14 pounds, on Saturday and then held his breath for two days lest another fisher bring in a bigger one.
Mike Rogers reeled in the only tagged fish caught in the derby, and it was the much sought after $50,000 coho.
Cagle was trolling for the silvers using a downrigger and herring with his long-time fishing buddy, Randy Knopik, at the head of the bay about a mile from town aboard Cagle’s 25-foot fiberglass boat the Silver Lining. Knopik had pulled in his gear and was cleaning jellyfish from his line when Cagle got his strike. Like so often with silvers, his line jiggled a little and he wasn’t sure if he had one on or not. Then it grabbed hold and he knew he had one on. When he got it close to the boat and it broke the surface of the water, they knew it was a big one.
Once they had it aboard, they came right into town to enter it in the derby.
Cagle, 69, and Knopik have fished together in the derby since 1981, shortly after Cagle moved to town. After 12 years active service in the U.S. Army, he taught at AVTEC for 17 years in addition to serving the Army Reserves for 12 years. He’s also taught at Spring Creek Correctional Center.
“I’m really honored to win the derby,” said Cagle. “The honor means as much to me as the money. My kids and grandkids can look back and see that I won it.”
Cagle said he doesn’t have special plans for the prize money. Though he jokes that he might get some new rain pants and boots, since he’s been wearing the same ones for many years and they’re held together with Super Glue.
“Thanks to everyone who runs the derby,” said Cagle. “They’re always professional, especially the volunteers. The volunteers are what makes it go.”
Rogers caught the $50,000 tagged fish while trolling Saturday between Tonsina and Derby Cove aboard his 28-foot fiberglass boat the Fat Cat. With him were his son Shawn Rogers from Seattle and friend Neil Strand from California. He caught four fish that day and noticed one was tagged. “The tagged one was the smallest one. I figured worth about $100 — enough for gas money,” he said.
They kept fishing and reeled in a few more before heading to town to turn in their entries.
The people at the derby booth were excited about his tagged fish. “They all wanted photos with me,” he said.
Rogers said the derby volunteers made some phone calls then brought out a box of envelopes. They matched the number on his fish’s tag to an envelope and gave it to him. He held it in his hands until Shawn and Strand asked him, “Are you going to open it?” So, he did.
“I was tired and sitting down,” he said. “I opened it and inside was another envelope. So I opened that. I was shocked.”
The 64-year-old veteran was born and raised in Seward, and he’s fished the derby almost all his life. “I can remember when I was 9, 10, 12... Jack Werner announcing at the dock, ‘We have a young man who wants to go out on a boat.’ “
Rogers said most of his prize money will go into the bank. Though he does plan to fix his driveway and add insulation to his home. He also plans to help out some family members who need it and spend some time in Cabo this winter, too.
Erin Lemas, Seward Chamber of Commerce events coordinator, said, “It was a great derby! The weather was better than usual. It didn’t rain until the last couple days. And we kept up with, or surpassed, last year.”
The lower fish weights in the lead fueled competition, she said.
Derby ticket sales this year were about $62,000 and around 1,700 fish were entered. The money raised by the fish buy back, that pays for fish restoration projects, hadn’t been tallied at press time.
“The volunteers are amazing,” said Lemas. “Many of them have been doing it for many years and they just step right in and do it.”
Top Fish in the 2012 Seward Silver Salmon Derby
Virginia Lee II
Ralton Gardens, Idaho
4th Of July
It’s All Good
Brush Praries, Wash.
4th Of July
Phillip Izon II
Lets Go Get ’em
Gig Harbor, Wash.
Head Of Bay
New York, N.Y.
Fish and Chicks
Seward Chamber of Commerce
Mike Rogers holds his tagged fish that won him $50,000 in the derby.