Sport fishermen from all over Alaska have had their eye on their calendars all winter, in preparation for March 22nd. That’s the day of the 21st annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament, one of the largest tournaments of its kind anywhere.
When Jim Lavrakas took over as Homer Chamber of Commerce Director last year, he says one of the things he most looked forward to was the Winter King Salmon Tournament.
"I've been coming down from Anchorage for a dozen years," said Lavrakas. "How cool is this that I get to put my stamp on this tournament that I really love?"
Lavrakas says he’s been skunked many times over the years, except for 2012, when his boat reeled in five salmon. This year, his attention is focused not so much on fishing but in organizing the event, which is always one of the chamber’s biggest fundraisers of the year.
And this year, several new changes will be in place. One of the biggest is a new live video feed of the weigh-in at Coal Point Seafoods.
"We'll have a video camera set up ... and a flat-screen set up outside," said Lavrakas.
The chamber is also looking to shorten the awards ceremony that follows the tournament – an event that could sometimes stretch past eight o’clock at night – so that anglers have time to grab some dinner.
Other new additions to the tournament include a YouTube video contest, a split-the-pot raffle and a special category for anglers who fish out of their kayaks.
And the winner of the tournament will now have a little extra something to take home with them – besides the prize money, of course. NOMAR in Homer has created a special champions vest that each winner will receive, much the like the famous “green jacket” from the Masters golf tournament in August, Georgia.
Lavrakas says the tournament is maybe the largest of its type in Alaska. It drew more than 700 participants last year and in the past has drawn as many as 1,000. The tournament is set for Saturday, March 22nd. Lines in is at 9 a.m. and lines out will be at 4 p.m. For more information, including how to register, visit homerwinterking.com.