Joe Worchuck’s fish (left) beat Craig Jennison’s by .05 lbs. for the local leader. Andrew Cremata

Pat Moore Memorial Game Fish Derby raises $5,000, awards $11,000 in cash and prizes

The first annual Pat Moore Memorial Game Fish Derby was a huge success
Held over two weekends, the derby raised nearly $5,000, a portion of which will be donated to a scholarship fund set up in the late Skagway sportsman’s name.
“Pat represented what we hope the tourney will be known for: sportsmanship, fair play, and community spirit,” said organizer Andrew Cremata.
At a king salmon barbecue at Pullen Park on Aug. 14, the derby’s final day, Cremata credited Dimitra Lavrakas for coming up with the idea of a derby sponsored by the Taiya Inlet Watershed Council, and announced a parade of winners who received nearly $11,000 in cash and prizes donated by numerous businesses.
The 26.65 lb. winner was caught early in the derby by Michelle Swan of New Mexico on Monte Mitchell’s charter boat Spindrift, and held up over both weekends. She ended up winning a three-foot-tall carving of an eagle grabbing a salmon. Skagway merchant Dennis Corrington donated the piece and explained that carver Steven Herrio’s inspiration for it came from a fishing charter he took here two years ago.
The biggest competition came in the local category. Going into the final day, Craig Jennison held the lead with a 20.15 lb. king, but then Joe Worchuck edged him with a 20.20 lb. fish.
There were many fish tales about “the ones that got away,” and Andrew Beierly won the sportsman’s award for not entering a big fish that he caught before buying his tickets.
In addition to providing money for the Pat Moore Scholarship Fund (awarded this year to John McCluskey), money raised during the derby also will go to assist the Eagles Auxiliary, the school’s Close-up program, and the TIWC to promote next year’s derby.
TIWC President Elaine Furbish credited Cremata for putting in more than 300 hours of time to make the derby happen. Cremata said this year’s derby was modeled after one in Haines, but next year the board plans to “relax the rules” and make it more family-oriented.
“We want to keep it as a community event that is unique to Skagway,” he said. “Not as a competition, just to have fun and collect some prizes.”
Here is the complete list of award winners:

1. Michelle Swan 26.65 lb
2. Gale Vetter 25.70 lb
3. Joe Worchuck 20.20 lb
4. Craig Jennison 20.15 lb
5. Al Fedoriak 19.40 lb
6. Shane Horton 19.20 lb
7. Tim Roseberg 18.30 lb
8. Meredith Marchioni 17.65 lb
9. Derek Sather 17.30 lb
10. Dennis Corrington 17.25 lb
11. Thomas Aver 17.20 lb

Local Prize Winner Joe Worchuck
Yukon Resident Prize Al Fedoriak
Senior Winner Al Fedoriak
Most Pounds (male) Greg Black
Most Pounds (female) Rebecca Mitchell
Pat Moore Sportsman Award Andy Beierly
Kids Winner Taylor Olsen
Kids Winner (male) Parker Olsen
Kids Winner (female) Taylor Olsen
Local Kid (male) Cody Burnham
Local Kid (female) Alicia Mitchell
First King Caught Shane Horton
Other Prize Winners: Carl Hoover, Rianna Mitchell, Barbara Shore, Marion Melrose, Mike Welch, Daniel Anton, Mike Dahlhausen, Spencer Scott, Steve Cody, Dan Downing, Steve Bagwell, Andrew Hond.

Derby Stats
Fish Caught: 73
Total Weight: 976.3 lbs.
Tickets Sold: 212
Smallest Fish: 7.85 lbs.
Fun Had: Immeasurable

Fish This!
‘Where are you from?’
“I was born and raised in Florida,” is the answer I repeat to curious tourists at least a dozen times a day. I’m not the only person living in Skagway who is from somewhere else. For those us of who call Skagway home but were not born within its city limits, there is a perspective that is wholly unique to the non-native transplant.
Where I’m from people don’t talk to one another much. They want to get to know and interact with one another as little as possible. They live in a bubble that can be best illustrated during rush hour traffic when they sit in their cars, alone on a jam-packed highway with thousands of similar people secure in their own personal shells with FM radio and climate controlled cabins, safely isolated from all others who are caught up in the stop-and-go highway dance. There is no waving from car to car where I’m from, unless it’s the middle finger.
Where I’m from the air is polluted. People use nasal spray to breathe and obtain prescription medications to overcome pollutant-based allergies just to savor a breath of fresh air. Most mornings you can walk on the beach and see a mustard yellow band arc its way across the sky. It is a halo of gas, emissions, and waste, and the locals will tell you how it makes the sunsets even more spectacular. Where I’m from they accept the daily use of an “air-quality index,” and the outlook is seldom good.
Where I’m from the fishing can be first-rate. All of the necessary ingredients of a successful day of angling can be put into motion. That is, unless you want serenity. For the 21st century Florida fisherman, serenity is as prized a commodity as beachside property, when it’s not hurricane season. Fishing where I’m from is a shoulder-to-shoulder enterprise where jet-skiers get in beer-fueled fist-fights with pier fishermen for the right to use a segment of water for their own recreational purposes.
Where I’m from you live in isolation among a mass of men, and remain an anonymous figure certain to be forgotten after you’re gone.
Skagway is not totally different. Sure the scenery is whole lot better, but your average Skagway resident is still isolated, just in a different way. Especially during the summer where commitment is made to the dollar, and a weekend with friends can be a rare treat.
The air is cleaner, but who can look at the Railroad Dock on your typical Tuesday and not see the smoke billowing from the cruise ships, the train, the tour busses and every single visiting motorcycle, RV and VW bus and not wonder how long before paradise becomes Fifth Avenue, without Sak’s.
Yet Skagway somehow, amidst all the jewelry stores, cheapskates and inventory reduction sales is still a frontier town only for the brave of heart. It is truly on the fringe, a buffer zone between iPods and text-messaging, and dinner in a furnace-heated cabin, with a meal of fiddle heads and salmon, in the company of hungry bears.
I love Skagway. I love the sound of the steam train blowing out my eardrums on a Monday morning out on the docks, and I love the way the tourists recoil in shock at its tremendous 1898 sound.
I love the friends and acquaintances that wave as they pass or call when you’re sick, and the people who you barely know who will offer assistance or a kind word in a simple act of humanity. I love the darkness and desperation of winter, the northern lights and the sky set ablaze with stars. I love the Christmas train, Moe’s on a Saturday afternoon, and tossing an egg on the Fourth of July.
What I love most about Skagway is the fishing.
I’m not the only one. Many of our visitors have saved their money for years to gather only glimpse of this natural wonder we call home. They come to play in our big back yard that traverses mountain ranges, ice fields and wild meandering rivers.
Their questions might seem redundant, banal at times, but who but a seasoned local can look upon this deep and dangerous land without being dumbstruck into asking an obvious question or two.
Some come for an extended stay and can take the time to marvel at the subtleties of our home. They cast a line into a clear glacial lake where the fish swim in between your feet as you wade out into it. They call out to something intangible, and for the first time in their lives, receive an answer.
Where I’m from I have some close friends. These are loved ones who transcend the barrier of temporal separation. They know me. They were there when important things happened in my life. They are gatekeepers to another world, another life and another time. They are family without blood, but just as important and sincere.
Recently some of these friends came to Skagway to visit. It was their first trip to Alaska.
For them, everything fell into place. They rode the train, and took a helicopter tour. They hiked a remote mountain near the White Pass summit. On a trip to Atlin they saw black and grizzly bear. During the drive I said we probably wouldn’t see a moose; not five minutes later we saw a moose. One of them saw the first waterfall ever in their life, our own Lower Reid Falls.
Did I mention the fishing was spectacular?
We caught king salmon in the Lynn Canal. For my friend it was the biggest fish he had caught in his life. We caught grayling one after another near Carcross. My friend’s son mentioned after catching his third fish in less than 10 minutes, “I would really like fishing, but back home we never catch any fish.”
We caught rainbow trout as the midnight sun skimmed below the horizon setting the sky on fire with orange hues that were not necessary to enhance with a pollution cloud.
There was one very special moment, canoeing on Palmer Lake in Atlin. The pike were biting on every third attempt and my arm was getting tired of the cast, catch and release routine. I stopped fishing and the light breeze that had been blowing suddenly stilled. It was quiet. It seemed like all the world had frozen and here we were sheltered in time and space. Not in a manufactured capsule be it built by man or mind, but in the open, the soul at peace, everything right in the world.
Isn’t this what fishing really is? It is contentment and harmony, it is a doorway to the natural world, and it is friends, family and taking time out of life’s daily routine for all the things that really matter.
When my friends left to return to the grind, they mentioned what had struck them most about their visit. It was the time on the water, the peace, and the unspoiled friendliness of Skagway’s people who always waved and smiled at them as they walked down the street. I watched their plane disappear around the mountain on its way to Juneau.
There are some things I miss about where I’m from. There is a lot I love about the place I am.