Members of the Skagway TrueValue Hardware “Nipples and Nuts” team pose with their trophy and kids after winning the top coed division crown last Sunday in Whitehorse. Mel Telloni

Skagway Hardware team takes coed Dustball crown
Men’s team loses title by one run in final inning

The Skagway TrueValue Hardware “Nipples and Nuts” coed team swept the field to win the coveted Dustball crown last Sunday in Whitehorse.
The team, made up of members of the Hambones and other coed players from the Skagway Softball League, dispatched Sport 7 and Discovery Bar in the seeding round on Friday and earned a first round bye, but a 7 a.m. Saturday starting time for their next game against the Whitehorse Trappers, a team that ousted local teams in the recent Fourth of July tourney in Skagway.
The early start made team members get to bed early the night before, and Hardware captain John L. “O’D” O’Daniel said they played a great game. The score was tied going into the fifth inning, and the Skagway team broke it open in the sixth to take a 13-9 win.
Skagway then won its next game by forfeit over a Klukwan team whose female team members were playing in a women’s game at the time, and faced Whitco. The Skagway bats pounded the Whitehorse team’s 75-year-old pitcher for a 23-3 win to get into the championship game.
The Nipples and Nuts faced the Len’s Painting Hit Men of Whitehorse, one of the best teams from its A Division. Skagway fell behind 6-1 in the early innings on walks by pitcher Darren Belisle, but the Hardware bats responded in the bottom of the second inning. Mitchell Snyder’s 3-run homer gave Skagway a 7-6 lead.
“Darren calmed down and pitched a great game the rest of the way,” and the Skagway defense was spectacular, O’D said . “We put together a perfect defensive game in the championship,” he added. “We made no errors, we just clicked.”
The crowd hummed the ESPN Sportscenter “da, da, da - da, da, da” moniker every time Skagway shortstop Mark Jennings made a great diving stop or a deep throw, O’D said.
“Jennings threw a runner out at home to catcher Teresa Wilson to stop a first inning rally, and just put on a show.”
But he said the main reason they won was because the Skagway girls were awesome all weekend.
“If I had to pick co-MVPs, they would be Heather (Stevens) and Cassandra (Simpson),” he said, and Wilson, Dawn Brown, Cindy O’Daniel and Melanie Telloni also came through with their bats.
“It was great to be playing in Dustball on Sunday,” O’D said.

Justin Harris scoops up a ground ball for the coed champs, and the Hardware’s Cassandra Simpson belts a hit during the championship game. MT

The Hard ware wasn’t the only Skagway team playing on Sunday. A men’s team, the Skagway Shockers, also made it to the finals.
Wade Brown, who helped put the team together, said it took a while for the team to get used to playing men’s ball – during the summer they all play on local coed teams.
The Skagway men lost in pool play to the Sitka Islanders, eventual champions of the B division, by a score of 22-12, which dropped them to the C division. There, they were comfortable, but the defending champion Timberwolf team from Juneau would be Skagway’s nemesis.
Brown said Skagway lost to Timberwolf by one run in the last inning, but then came back strong in the loser’s bracket to face the Juneau team again in the championship.
All weekend, the Skagway boys jacked homers. Jed Greenstreet, Justin Harris, Kent Weinman and Snyder sent the most over the fence.
Against Timberwolf in the championship, it again came down to the final inning. Tied 12-12 going into the bottom of the seventh, Skagway lost the game on a play at home.
“Aaron Neitzer just missed throwing this guy out,” O’Daniel said, or the game would have gone to extra innings.
Brown said the team had a great weekend despite the heartbreaking loss.
“It was hot, but it was fun,” Brown said.


Members of the Skagway WHI/SKY Cup team talk ‘strategy’ before the final round of the annual Whitehorse vs. Skagway golfing event last weekend. The Skagway boys fell behind by five matches in the first round, and played even with handicaps the second day, to remain five spots back. But, hey, they had fun and came back with cool jackets. JB


Mastering the 'Shore Kings'

They are silhouettes on the shore standing strong in the stout south wind. Rods bowing at random, they cast with fervor and optimism from the breakwater, the point, and along the shore surrounding the ferry terminal. They are the diehards, with jeans that smell like herring, shirts with stains of blood and cuts on their hands and fingers that still find the strength to try day after day for the chance to land a big Chinook salmon from Skagway’s limited shoreline.
They are the kings of the beach and their prize is catching a king salmon from the confines of land.
This is a lot harder than it may sound. Not only does hooking a king from the shore require a great deal of trial and error combined with being lucky enough to encounter a salmon passing by, but bringing in and landing one of these monsters is a litmus test for the angling elite.
It seems that both people and animals find it humorous to taunt the shore-confined angler. Those passing by on boats hoist fish in the air and hurl two-stroke taunts at the determined fishermen. Otters poke their heads up above the surface, with fish in their mouths, and mock the anglers with a muffled laugh before they take their catch to the opposite shore to dine.
It is often an exercise in futility and frustration. Lines cross one another, rocks snag valuable tackle, and often times a hooked fish becomes an easy meal for a seal. Even seagulls steal bait from these men and women on a mission.
There is however, a reward. Hours upon hours of time on the rocks seems worth all the petty jibes and aggravation when a big king happens by, takes a shot at the bait, and the fight is on. Because most shore anglers choose light tackle and line for their pursuit, setting the hook becomes the first of many trials. Kings hooked from the shore seem almost as shocked as the anglers who target them when they feel the point of the hook penetrate their flesh. It is essential for the fisherman to hold the spool and set the hook sharply multiple times.
The fish will twist slowly at first leaving the angler wondering if he has hooked a boot or a particularly stubborn sculpin. All doubt is swept away when the line begins to peel from the reel. This is the time that crowds begin to gather.
If patience is the key to hooking a fish from shore, then acute awareness combined with nerves of steel is required for landing the fish. Salmon fight like a pit bull on steroids, and can run, dive, jump and head straight back toward the angler resulting in frenzied reeling to keep the line taut and that sinking feeling that all may be lost.
Many a hooked fish will run with abandon. The drag sings as line quickly vanishes from the spool. As it disappears, muscles tense up in a helpless pause. Turning the fish becomes paramount and methods vary for gaining advantage over the fish.

ROCK & ROLL – Josh Coughran tries his luck at a shore king. AC

For a slow running fish, placing pressure on the spool with the palm of the hand can cause it to turn its head and run toward the angler. For a screamer, a fish whose run is fast and seems like it has no end; a more subtle technique can reap rewards. When there is still 20 or 30 yards of line remaining, the bail arm of the reel is released resulting in a free-spool. The sudden lack of pressure can make the salmon stop or even turn back. When line no longer is falling from the reel the bail arm is reengaged and the fight is back on.
This method is in no way foolproof, but will often work without flaw and while a fish on slack line can throw a hook it is still better than the alternative of all the line stripped from the reel, and the angler left wondering what may have been.
Alex King tangled with one such beast in late May. The Alaska Marine Highway System employee made the short jaunt to the rocks adjacent to the ferry terminal dock after work. Using a small simple silver spoon, he cast along the shoreline at the mouth of the small boat harbor. It is very likely one will catch a few dollies using this rig in this area, but when line started screaming off the reel, he knew something stronger was on the other end of the line.
After a lengthy battle that almost left him with an empty spool, he landed a 30-pound beauty and pulled it from the water with his bare hands. Word spread like fireweed through town and the next day every angler who heard the story was out on the rocks with small silver casting spoons taking a shot at the shore kings. King tangled with a much larger fish only days later, but this one got the better of him and broke him off.
Justin Henry hooked into a fish using 20-pound fire line. When the fish took the buzz-bomber his fishing pole shook in a violent spasm that made him wonder what possibly could be snared on the other end of the line. This was just the beginning. The fish shot to the surface in a flash and as it broke water the line snapped like old sewing thread. The tail of the fish alone was massive and the best guesses of onlookers was that the fish could have easily gone over 50-pounds.
This brings up the necessity for using a quality outfit with a smooth drag. Leader is also required as the small teeth and hard jaw of the fish can wear out light line and cause it to snap. 30-40 pound leader is adequate, and any rig spooled with at least 200 yards of line can bring in the big fish, but when you fish from the rocks there are no guarantees.
Kings must be worn out before trying to bring them ashore, as the simplicity of fishing from the rocks allows for no cumbersome nets to be hauled out to the shore. Slipping the hands under the gills and pulling with resolve is the best way to land a king off the rocks. The gill-rakers will cut the hands, and a big king will feel heavier than one expects. A good idea is to release the bail arm on the reel just before attempting to land it, then if the fish runs, rolls or thrashes, the line will be safe from breaking.
When the pinks begin their run soon, they will cruise the shoreline in massive schools like fighter planes in formation. In between these formations big kings will swim solo like underwater zeppelins amongst the schooling humpies. This is when the real fun begins.
Sight casting to cruising kings is more like fishing for bonefish on the flats in Key West. Accuracy is paramount. If you can put a lure within inches of the fishes nose, he will snap at it without thought, and watching a salmon take the lure and discover his plight is an unforgettable sight.
This is angling at its purest, and defines the term. It is simplicity and art. No engine, no hull, no downriggers or dipsy-divers, no gaffs or nets, just a fisherman with a rig and a few lures. It can be done for an hour before or after work, or it can be an all day affair for the family complete with grill and hot dogs. And who knows, maybe the hot dogs will stay in the cooler and a healthy shore king will be the lunch special.