By Valdez Fish Derbies
For the Star 

Cohos big this year as season nears end

Big salmon make women happy during special derby Saturday


Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

Glennallen's own, Katrina Church-Chmielowski, was crowned "Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood" in the 2015 women's derby held in Valdez.

Friends don't let friends fish without a derby ticket.

This is a familiar slogan of the Valdez Fish Derbies - but it wasn't a derby ticket that kept Kris Meyer away from the big prizes in the 2015 Women's Silver Salmon Derby. Meyer bought a derby ticket for the Silver Salmon Derby, but did not register for the Women's Derby so her 14.64 silver salmon won her a daily first place prize in the Silver Derby, but not the Women's Derby Crown.

Katrina Church-Chmielowski of Glennallen caught a 14.24 pound silver and was crowned "Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood" Saturday night at the Civic Center. She won $1,000 in cash, a North Face tent, and a bevy of prizes from Prospector Outfitters and Valdez Fish Derbies - as well as a bathrobe fit for a queen and a winner's fleece vest. The Top 50 anglers in the Women's Derby were recognized and awarded a fleece vest.

Church-Chmielowski said she has fished in the regular derby many times but this was her first time fishing in the Women's Silver Salmon Derby. When asked what she thought about being queen she said "It's fantastic. I love this!"

Last year's Women's Derby winner, Amanda Towne, ended up winning $15,000 as her fish went to the top of the leader board and held on through the end of the derby. This year, none of the fish caught in the Women's Derby broke into the overall standings, but there were a lot of fish caught. There were 618 women registered for the 2015 Women's Derby and 468 of them weighed in a fish Saturday.

Viki Kaas of Anchorage was a close second in the Women's Silver Salmon Derby. Her fish weighed in at 14.2 pounds and following the ceremony, she was lamenting the mere tenths of an ounce that separated her from the crown.

"It's really an awesome thing to be second but I came down here win," she said with a smile. "I'm not a sore loser. She (Church-Chmielowski) looked good up there."

Carole Derifield of Valdez took third place in the Women's Derby, with a 13.86 pound silver - and was thrilled to be in the top three.

This year marked the 11th year of the Valdez Women's Silver Salmon Derby and Derifield has participated in the Women's Derby all eleven years.

The winning fish in the women's derby were in the 14 pound range, but there are some bigger silvers out there. The day before the Women's Derby, Chris Thoma reeled in a 16.28 pound silver to land at the top of the leaderboard in the regular derby. Freida Wiley of Valdez is currently in second place overall with a 15.72 pound silver. Paul Rough of Oak Harbor Washington is currently in third place with a 15.36 pound fish he caught August 5.

In the Valdez Halibut Derby, Fred Hyder of Willow, Alaska is leading with a 253.8 pounder.

Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

Chris Thoma of Valdez was leading the silver derby as of Tuesday morning after reeling in this 16.28 pounder Friday from aboard the "TForRG."


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