Homer Winter King Derby is an annual fishing competition held in Homer, Alaska and has a rich history dating back several decades. Follow these strategies for an enjoyable and successful experience at the tournament this year.

Homer winter king derby

by Brad Anderson

The Homer Winter King Salmon tournament has grown to become the largest fishing derby on the West Coast over the last several decades. 2024 is even more exciting as the tournament is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Hosted by the Homer Chamber of Commerce, the Winter King Salmon Tournament is March 23, 2024. Here are some tips to make sure you have the most fun and successful weekend. If you are new to the Homer winter king derby, check out the basics first, but if this isn’t your first rodeo, feel free to jump down to the tips.

Homer winter king derby

Homer Winter King Derby Background

So what is a winter king? The ocean waters of Kachemak Bay have king (Chinook) salmon year-round that feed and grow before heading back to their native rivers to spawn. These fish are often referred to as winter kings. They’re also known as feeder kings. The Homer Winter king derby was formed to highlight this wonderful natural resource for Homer.  It’s also Homer’s way of celebrating the end of winter, with spring and summer just around the corner.

Alaskans love to fish, so what better way to get your family and friends together then with a day of fishing and having a chance to win thousands of dollars? But even though it is March in Alaska and there’s snow on the mountains and the air is crisp, Alaskans aren’t the only ones who want to get out and fish this time of year. Homer is absolutely stunning this time of year and the town and derby bring people from far and wide.

The Homer winter king derby annually awards over $200,000 in cash prizes, plus thousands more in merchandise prizes. The merchandise prizes are handed out to anglers through prize packages and drawings and everyone has an equal chance to win. Then there’s the cash prize for the biggest fish caught. Recent tournament champions have won over $80,000 for their fish!

Here’s How the Homer Winter King Derby Works

If you have never fished the Homer winter king derby, here are some basic things to understand about the tournament:

  1. Team Registration
    Your boat or team captain must register the boat first and enter at least one individual registration at that time. Team names are typically the boat’s name. There is no fee to register the boat and individual registrations cost $150.
  2. Individual Registration
    Remaining individuals each register to a team and pay the $150 fee through their website.
  3. Registration tasks can be completed at homerwinterking.com.

Derby Tips and Things to Consider

1. Boat Mooring

Every boat registered in the tournament will receive a free night of mooring in the Homer Harbor on either Friday or Saturday night. If you choose to keep your boat longer than the allotted one night in a harbor slip, you will be charged a daily rate by the harbor office, so be aware of that associated cost. Alternatively, Northern Enterprise Boat Yard is offering free trailer/boat storage during the tournament weekend Northern Enterprises Boat Yard, Inc – Homer Marine Trades Association.

2. Open Spaces on Teams

If you do not have access to a boat you can contact the Homer Chamber of Commerce office to be put on a list for seats open on charter boats. Email WKT@homeralaska.org to get on the list or call 907-235-7740. Also, a new Facebook page was created to connect people looking for space with those who have openings on boats. Visit (14) Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament – Anglers & Info | Facebook for that helpful connection opportunity.

3. Boat Side Tourneys

Boat Side Tourneys are another way to win money with the Homer winter king derby. This is a fundraising event for the Chamber of Commerce and the community work we do. There are 12 Side Tourney categories, each with a different dollar amount that ranges from $25 to $500. Each team can select up to 5 categories. You enter as a team, not as individual anglers. If someone on your team catches the largest fish in that category, they will win 65% of the total amount of money. The remaining 35% goes to the Homer Chamber of Commerce as a fundraiser. There is a tab on our website called Boat Side Tourneys. It shows the live status of the teams and the dollar value of each category. You can make these selections at any time before the start of the tournament.

4. Where to Stay?

If you are looking for advice on where to stay, who to fish with, where to dine or anything else Homer related, be sure to utilize the Homer Chamber of Commerce website and contact the visitor center should we be able to assist. Be sure to check out the Homer section of Fish Alaska’s website for additional great info.

5. Get your boat ready!

Need some work maintenance on your boat? There is still time to get some work done before the big weekend. Homer Marine Trades Association members can assist you. You can find their list of businesses here Business Directory – Homer Marine Trades Association.

6. Celebrate with us!

The Kick-Off party on Friday, March 22 at Alice’s Champagne Palace is the place to be. It will feature a special Winter King Tournament beer from Grace Ridge Brewing Company.All anglers and spectators are invited to come out to the Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament headquarters and event area to watch the weigh-in process, listen to live music, grab tasty treats from food trucks, enjoy the beer garden, and watch the parade of boats return to the harbor. This all takes place at the Homer Cruise Ship Dock, 4667 Freight Dock Road on the day of the winter king derby. This year, performers Silas Jones and Blackwater Railroad will be playing from the event stage.

For complete information about the Homer Winter King Tournament, visit HomerWinterKing.com.

Brad Anderson is the Executive Director of the Homer Chamber of Commerce. Brad makes Homer his year round home base and enjoys celebrating the enter of winter in Homer at the Homer winter king derby.

Homer winter king derby

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