The annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament returns this year after a one-year hiatus, and has been pushed back to April.
Canceled in 2020 due to the rising threat of the novel coronavirus at the time, the tournament returns for the 27th year, but on April 17. This new date was settled on in order to make the event safer for anglers and the community, according to the Homer Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center website. Executive Director Brad Anderson said after consulting with local health experts, the committee for the tournament settled on the later date to allow more time for the COVID-19 vaccine to make its way through the community.
“We understand COVID is going to be a reality that’s out there,” Anderson said.
By giving more time for more people to get the vaccine, Anderson said the hope is that the tournament will feel safer both for locals and for anglers who are thinking of traveling to Homer to enter. As another safety precaution, Anderson said all registration is available online this year, to prevent the need for people to gather for registration in person at the visitor center.
Anderson said the chamber moved the date and made modifications to the tournament to make it safer and hopefully prevent the need to cancel it for the second year in a row. He cited the economic boost the event provides for the Homer area, as well as the importance of providing a mostly outdoor activity for families to participate in.
Another area of the tournament that needed modification was the weigh-in station at Coal Point Seafoods, and the awards ceremony area where people usually mingle and eat before the winners are named. This year, the line for weighing the salmon will be spaced out, with people monitoring it to make sure social distancing is enforced.
Anderson said food trucks will still be at the event, but that the chamber is looking into using a larger space for the awards ceremony so that attendees can be more spaced out. Details on that part of the event are still being worked out, he said.
“The vast majority of this event involves people being out on the water,” Anderson said. “We can make that happen for people.”
The 2019 winner, Eagle River resident Shayna Perry, was the first woman to ever win the fishing tournament. Her white salmon weighed in at 26.7 pounds, so it won first place overall and first place for largest white salmon, a separate tournament category. All told, Perry took home nearly $80,000 in winnings. Overall, the chamber gave out just over $171,000 during the 2019 tournament.
For more information, visit the chamber’s website at homerwinterking.com. Call the chamber at (907) 235-7740, or send an email to [email protected] for questions.
Reach Megan Pacer at [email protected]