38 participate in annual Pilgrim River Pike Fishing Derby
On Saturday, April 13, a large contingent of snowmachiners took off from Nome under sunny skies and warm spring conditions to make the 70-some mile trip to Pilgrim River for the fifth annual Pilgrim River Pike Fishing Derby organized by Earl Merchant and Pat Johanson. Once they made it past a ground storm near Golden Gate, overcast and breezy conditions met them on the other side of the Kigluaik Mountains. “At the Pilgrim side there was a light breeze, but it was still nice,” said Merchant. Undeterred by overcast skies, 38 fishermen and women registered and tried their luck fishing for pike. Organizers said even more showed up to watch the fishing.
The contest, Earl Merchant explained, is broken up in three categories: prizes await those who pull out the heaviest fish, the longest fish and the fish weighing nearest to 14 pounds. After boring holes through about four feet of ice, the fishing began. They used herring and smelts for bait and soon the pikes started to come out of the water.
Bill Dunker pulled out the heaviest fish at 16.97 pounds and won the heavy weight division. Renee Merchant landed the longest fish, measuring 40 and three quarter inches and Thomas Horton’s 11.4 pound fish was the closest to weighing 14 pounds.
Merchant said that Morgan’s Sales and Service and NSEDC sponsored the event with $250 each for winners of each category.