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Thorne Bay Fishing Derby 2020

On June 27, 2020, The Thorne Bay Fishing Derby kicked off its 57th season with a barbecue dinner prepared and served by the awesome AK-49 Café of Thorne Bay. This mouthwatering dinner included smoked brisket, pulled pork, Cole Slaw, baked beans, corn bread, and AK-49 Cafe’s secret BBQ sauce all prepared by Brian Wilson of AK-49 Café. The venue was outdoors in the parking lot of the AK-49 Café and the weather cooperated perfectly! Due to health concerns and mandates in place precautions were implemented.

The derby committee had decided early on in 2020 to continue some form of the fishing derby, but with so many unknowns and variables at the time we were not sure how to plan. With economic concern for the many businesses which had previously supported the derby through generous donations, it did not seem right to seek any outside funding for the derby. This presented a challenge. All of the derby donors from 2019 were sent letters thanking them for being prior sponsors of the derby and advising them donations were not being sought for the 2020 derby. Additionally, the 2019 donors were advised their generous contributions from the prior year would be recognized in print and verbally at our kick-off event, derby awards event and throughout the derby. Participants were encouraged to support the prior donors during the suppressed economic times to show support and appreciation.

Participants in the derby are not particularly seeking a big prize as much as they are seeking bragging rights. It seems a great deal of satisfaction is attached to winning the fishing derby. In recent years, the derby has raffled off a Yamaha 8 HP long shaft kicker motor as the door prize at the awards event. The kicker motor has become a known and sought after prize from the fishing derby. The first question that came to mind, “how are we going to purchase the kicker motor without donations?” Due to generous donations in 2019 and a derby committee planning for the future, there were enough funds left in the derby account to purchase a kicker motor. That was a huge relief.

This year the cash awards would have to be scaled back. The second question that came to mind, “how are we going to sell tickets if we are scaling back awards?” As the derby planning moved forward community members began to talk about the derby and a sense of excitement could be felt. While checking with the staff at the Thorne Bay City Office regarding their assistance with derby reporting, printing and EMS sponsorship, I spoke with Dana Allison. Dana informed me she had won the Yamaha 8 HP long shaft kicker motor as the door prize last year and it has sat unused on an engine stand in her garage. Dana said, “My plan is to donate the kicker motor back to the derby.” “Are you kidding,” I replied. Dana had indicated she wanted to help the derby continue by donating the kicker motor back.

With the burden of purchasing the Yamaha 8 HP long shaft kicker motor as the door prize eliminated, planning for a kick-off event began. Due to venue limitations and the prior pot luck style of kick-off event deemed unacceptable, the derby committee decided to reach out to Brian Wilson, owner of the AK-49 Café of Thorne Bay. Brian offered to host the derby kick-off event in his café parking lot. Brian came up with a mouthwatering dinner menu of smoked brisket, pulled pork, Cole Slaw, baked beans, corn bread and AK-49 Cafe’s secret BBQ sauce. The derby kick-off dinner date was set for June 27, 2020. Fellow derby committee member Tom Schiesser, manager of the Klawock Alaska Commercial Company, was able to secure a generous donation from the Alaska Commercial Company to purchase all of the meats, ingredients and table ware for the kick-off dinner. The staff of the AK-49 Café served up the unbelievable dinner while practicing all necessary precautions and it is safe to say no one left hungry. The names of the 2019 derby donors were read to all the attendees and publicly thanked for their prior support.

On July 4, 2020, the 57th annual Thorne Bay Fishing Derby began. Cutter Killian wasted no time and jumped to the top of the child halibut category while Cindy Egelston took the largest halibut of the day earning a nice $100 for her efforts. Jim Silverthorn took over the halibut top spot on July 7, 2020, with a nice 118.7 lb. fish, only to be bested by his son, Colby Silverthorn on July 13, 2020, with a monster 144.3 lb. halibut. On July 22, 2020, Averi Wadsworth jumped to the top spot of the child Coho category with a 6.1 lb. fish. In late August, the larger Coho started showing up with Ken Seymor entering the first double digit fish at 10.4 lb. On September 7, 2020, the last day of the derby a flurry of Coho hit the scale. After the adult Coho category shook out, it was Jeff Bergman earning the top spot of the day, collecting the $100 Labor Day Coho prize and the overall Coho winner with a 13.6 lb. fish. The fishing prize winners were: Adult Halibut, 1st Colby Silverthorn, 2nd Jim Silverthorn, 3rd Doug Walker; Adult Coho 1st Jeff Bergman, 2nd David Egelston, 3rd Robin McRae; Child Halibut, 1st Cutter Killian, 2nd Brookelynn McLeod of Baton Rouge LA; Child Coho, 1st Averi Wadsworth; Largest Halibut on 4th of July, Cindy Egelston; Largest Coho on Labor Day, Jeff Bergman.

On September 26, 2020, the derby awards dinner was hosted by AK-49 Café of Thorne Bay. Brian Wilson and his staff, Nikki and Grace, served up jumbo hamburgers to all derby ticket holders, and all the attendees served up a big ole pile of fish stories. One of which was how Robin McRae actually tied for second place in the adult Coho category (12.3 lb.) but David Egelston’s fish was weighed in first. Better luck next year Robin, you are still the Queen of Kings! A live dessert auction served up some excitement when Thorne Bay City Administrator, Les Carter and his wife, Cherish, won the bid on a cheesecake and then served it up to everyone who dared eat dessert after an AK-49 burger! The 57th annual Thorne Bay Fishing Derby was a success due to the community spirit of the Thorne Bay residents. The Thorne Bay Fishing Derby committee presented a $500 check to City Administrator, Les Carter for the Thorne Bay EMS program. The winner of the Yamaha 8 HP long shaft kicker motor door prize was Ray Slayton.

The Thorne Bay Fishing Derby committee would like to thank community members Jim and Jeannie McFarland, Kim Redmond, Richard Ebel, Greg and Sheryl Kerkof for their assistance in setting up the awards venue canopies and chairs.

This event would not have been possible without the generous donors from 2019: Alaska Commercial Company, Alaska Gifts, Alaska Rainforest Adventurers, Inc., Alaska IBEW Local 1547, Alaska Marine Lines, Alaska's Boardwalk Wilderness Lodge, CBC Construction, David and Cindy Egelston, Fireweed Lodge, First City Electric, Inter-Island Ferry Authority, Island Air Express, Island Repair, LLC, Island to Island Veterinary Clinic, Ketchikan Daily News, Log Cabin Sporting Goods, Loyal Order of the Moose Craig, Madison Lumber & Hardware, NAPA Service Auto Parts, Papa's Pizza, Parnassus Books, Petro Marine Services, R&M Engineering, The Landing Hotel, Thorne Bay Hardware, Tyler Rental, Viking Lumber, Welcome Inn B&B.

In spite of sending out letters to 2019 derby donors advising them we were not going to be seeking donations for the 2020 derby due to economic concerns, the following submitted donations anyway: Alaska Commercial Company, Laura Clark-4th of July Big Fish Award Sponsor, Dana Allison, Greg and Sheryl Kerkof, Trevor Killian, Loyal Order of the Moose-Craig, R&M Engineering INC. The Thorne Bay Fishing Derby and the community of Thorne Bay thanks you.

The 57th annual Thorne Bay Fishing Derby was made possible with the support and community involvement of the AK-49 Café of Thorne Bay. A huge THANK-YOU to Owner, Brian Wilson and his awesome staff!

If you would like to support the Thorne Bay Fishing Derby, which benefits the Thorne Bay EMS Program, or volunteer as a derby committee member, please contact Tom Schiesser, 9078213721, or Sean McRae, 9074011258. Until next year, keep your hooks sharp.

Written and submitted by Sean McRae

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