Mother Nature puts winter back into this year’s king tourney

The last few winters have featured weather more akin to petulant autumns throwing diminutive snit-fits of snow, wind and bawling bursts of waterfall rains.

Not so much this time around.

I’d suggest that this year’s 24th Annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament notice should capitalize all of the letters in “Winter.”

Even though Cortana, the tiny elfette lurking within my computer, claims it’ll be around 41 degrees on launch day, the Weather Channel declares you’ll be looking at 28, while the Farmer’s Almanac hints at the need to layer on four sets of heavily insulated underwear with back-up hot packs for your nether regions.

It really doesn’t matter what they say.

Hit the bay like you expect your salmon to freeze solid before you can get it out of the net and not as if you’re chasing marlin somewhere in the world where the word “snow” is looked upon as a sinister myth.

The first two prognoses should make for a pretty comfortable trip unless Ma Nature unexpectedly has some sort of cow and unleashes gales that would drive an aircraft carrier to seek shelter.

The odds on that happening are about the same as the Democrats and Republicans getting together to sing “We are family” and make pinky swears agreeing that the earth is flat.

As of this moment, there are very few indicators hinting at the need to arrive at your boat three hours early to chip it out of the berth, but if the tides and winds are right, you might have to assign an obnoxious in-law to a slab ice watch while easing out of the harbor so slow that a sneeze off the bow could result in a dead stop.

Been there. Done that.

I pulled ice avoidance duty during a derby deep freeze morning several years back. Why? There were only two of us and guess who owned the boat?

No problem. Feeling returned to my fingers around mid-June and my butt about a week later.

As they have in the past, rigs will start rolling into our burg in the next few days driven by king hunters in hot pursuit of not only chinook gold but a serious break from the tedium of solemnly staring at stored fishing tackle as it rusts in hibernation.

It has been tough impatiently waiting for things to thaw enough that angling fanatics can use waders rather than crampons and moderate explosives on nearby freshwaters.

Thus, humble and empathetic Homer willingly offers a respite from that angst by featuring the tournament as a much needed, waning-winter, diversion and major step back toward piscatorian mental health.

Now, a bit of inside info:

If the charter and private boat reports for the past few months are any indication of what lies ahead after the derby blastoffs, trolling for black mouth beauties should keep entrants jumpin’ all day if they avoid employing repugnant bass plugs and ancient bait that would gag a ravenous Irish Lord.

To sum things up:

• The 24th Annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament will be held Saturday, March 18.

• The one-day tournament awards tens of thousands of dollars in prize money for the largest chinooks caught.

• Registered anglers have the chance to win prizes throughout the day donated by local businesses and nationwide fish and tackle companies.

• After the contest ends and the anglers arrive at the Coal Point Trading Company (tourney headquarters), they will enjoy live music and receive free beer and food vouchers while waiting for the winning lunkers to be announced.

This year also will feature the live results of the weigh-ins via a monitor screen.

The public also is welcome to attend and join the festivities from 2 to 6 p.m.

There will be food and beer for purchase, kids’ activities, live music, the fish weigh-in and awards ceremony.

Note: New for 2017 is the implementation of fishing tournament software that allows participants to pre-register online at www.homerwinterking.com. Early online registration began March 1.

There will be a random early-bird prize drawing for those who register online by March 10 consisting of terrific fishing tackle and gear valued at more than $300. That leaves you today and tomorrow to get into the online action.

Last year’s champion, Eric Holland of Homer won $31,668 with a 26.45-pound king.

The payout for the top 10 cash prizes was $113,100. The boat side-bet payout totaled $44,531.25, and the Skunk Bets $4,687.16.

The total payout in all categories in 2016 was $162,318.41. The 11th through 20th place winners shared in merchandise worth more than $10,000.

Somebody is going to strike it rich, why not you?

Check out the Homer Chamber of Commerce’s web site for more information and the rules.

Good luck out there!

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com.

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