Exchange student from Japan wins women's silver derby
Plenty of fish in the sea for largest one-day fishing event in Valdez
Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies
Exchange student Nana Matsui was crowned Queen Saturday after reeling in the largest coho during the Women's Silver Salmon Derby.
Nana Matsui, a Japanese exchange student attending Prince William Sound College, was surprised and excited to be crowned Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood Saturday night.
Matsui, age 20, reeled in a 15.9 pound silver salmon to win $1,000 in cash and $1,000 in prizes from Prospector Outfitters and Valdez Fish Derbies. Matsui said it was her dream to come to Alaska from her hometown of Osaka because she loves nature. Matsui is studying biology in Valdez while staying with a host family.
"I was sleeping," Matsui said. "I woke up because everyone was yelling. This is the first salmon I have ever caught so I wasn't sure what to do. I was panicked."
Despite her nerves, Matsui managed to catch the Women's Derby winner and also take the lead in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby. If her fish holds on in the regular derby through September 4, she stands to win a $15,000 cash prize.
Cindy Unger of Valdez took second place in the women's derby with a 14.58 pound coho.
"When it first flashed my husband's eyes got about as big as the fish," she said.
Unger took home $500 cash and $500 in prizes for the women's derby and is currently in third place in the overall in the regular Silver Salmon Derby.
The third place winner in the women's derby was Karinna Gonzalez of Fairbanks. She caught a 14.46 pound silver salmon.
A week ago, anglers were wondering if the silver salmon would show up in Valdez then, at one point last week, all three overall leaders in the Silver Salmon Derby were caught by anglers fishing from shore. Seems the silvers ran deep early in the season and eluded anglers until they surfaced close to the hatchery. For the Women's Derby weekend, dense boat traffic could be found from just outside the harbor to Shoup Bay. Matsui's derby winning fish was caught near Gold Creek. Other hot spots included Potato Point, Jacks Bay, Galena Bay and Allison Point.
The Valdez Halibut Derby is going strong and nice sized weekly winners are continuing to come into Port Valdez. Will Everett of Palmer was the first-place weekly winner with a 156.2 pound halibut he caught aboard the "Bold Eagle." Laura Saxe of Valdez took the second place weekly prize with a 107 pound halibut she caught aboard the "Go Get Her."
David Jamison is still leading the derby with the 253 pound halibut he caught May 29 aboard the "Nanatuk."