I did something this year that I hadn’t done in the past… I bought a ticket for the PSEA Matsu Valley King Salmon Derby. If you’re not familiar with the concept of a fishing derby, the basic idea is you purchase a ticket (in advance) and then you check-in and weigh the fish you catch, and you are eligible for prizes.
In past years, I hadn’t purchased a derby ticket, and in most years I catch some pretty respectable fish. Last year I caught a fifty pounder, and the year before, a forty-eight pounder. These fish aren’t winners, but they’re close… I figured if I put the time in, and focused on catching a really big fish, I’d have a good shot at the top prizes.
What a mistake.
So I started fishing hard in June, and I caught four king salmon… But I released them all, because they were too small.
Then it happened… with three weeks left in the season, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed the rest of the king salmon season. The numbers of returning kings was so small, they were concerned about making sure that there were enough fish to spawn.
When fishing closed, I hadn’t kept a single fish… and I realized that I hadn’t really enjoyed fishing all that much. Fishing, when there is money (or prizes) on the line… and making a choice to compete for them, is a lot more like work than fishing.
Don’t get me wrong… fishing derbies can be fun, and in Alaska, they raise money for some great charities. But doing what I did was a mistake. I thought it would be fun, but it wasn’t near as much fun as just fishing would have been.