Catch & Release Derby Rules
All participants MUST complete the following BEFORE going fishing:
- Sign up BEFORE you go fishing Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware & Fishing, derby book is at the front counter.
- All fishermen must follow all current Fish & Game regulations, and make sure you have a signed 2024 Fishing License that you can purchase in store, online or on the ADF&G mobile app.
All fish entered MUST BE CAUGHT:
- By rod and reel, tip-up, or hand line.
- From a Kenai Peninsula FROZEN, FRESHWATER LAKE.
- Through a drilled or chopped hole in solid ice. No open water fish will be accepted.
We started our Catch & Release Derby to a) adapt to changing regulations and help recover and then maintain struggling fish populations and b) to promote and encourage ethical catch & release tactics. Over the years we’ve been able to watch this derby grow bigger and bigger, with more people getting involved each year! This year, we decided to change our derby to align more with our intentions. Previously, we used a combination of factors to determine winners: ethical release, length of fish, and photo quality. This year, we will be primarily using ethical release and photo quality as the primary factors in determining winners. Length will be a secondary factor, but this year we are not requiring lengths to be sent in. We know its always fun to see if you get a personal best while out fishing, so if conditions allow then we encourage people to measure their fish! However, with this year’s derby already starting with tough conditions and cold temps, we want to do what we can to encourage anglers to promote the health of the fish when participating in catch & release instead of focusing on a derby requirement.
Winners will be determined by the following:
- Ethical Release
The health of the fish is a priority when participating in Catch & Release. We know conditions aren’t always perfect, and despite best efforts, sometimes the experience isn’t as perfect as we try to be. We have this in place to make sure anglers are taking all possible measures to result in the best survival chances for the fish following its release! Always limit a fish’s time on the ice or snow. Do what you can to keep a fish from bleeding. If you are fishing for smaller fish, make sure the hook you are using isn’t small enough to swallow. Switch out treble hooks for singles. Make sure you are efficient when handling a fish, so it spends the least amount of time out of the water. Like we mentioned earlier, we know sometimes conditions are not always perfect! Sometimes fish twist and turn and end up on the ice. Some fish are bleeders no matter what you do. However, we ask that anglers consider promptly releasing a fish in these conditions, and try again for a derby entry. Or, if you are somewhere regulations allow retention, consider keeping the fish if it has a low survival rate (which could be entered into our weigh-in derby!) We want anglers to have fun, be safe, and make decisions that benefit the fish and your situation!
2. Photo Quality
We want to see you and your fish! Such a fun part of fishing and a fun part of the derby is getting to share your catch with others! So this year we really want to encourage snapping a picture with you with your fish, one that identifies you and the fish well practicing good handling and release tactics. This year we are also requiring a video of releasing the fish. As stated in the previous section, please do what is best in your situation for the fish. If you are fishing by yourself, and can only take a picture of releasing the fish but not one with you in it or get a video of releasing the fish, that is ok. Ethical release practices are prioritized more than photo quality. What we want to get away from this year is all the trough pictures (although great in determining length) and focus on getting to see the fish! Check out these participants from last year as a few examples of what we’re looking for! Colton Rankin, Rainbow (Week 1); Mike Hayes, Rainbow (Week 2); Dan Hejl, Lake Trout (Week 4).
3. Length of Fish
This is a sub-category in determining a winning fish this year. Yes, we are still looking for big fish! But ethical release and photo quality will be the primary determinants. What this means is even if an angler submits the biggest fish, but it’s bloody and/or snow covered or has a poor photo, a smaller fish entered that is not bloody or snowy or has a better quality photo will take the lead.
**Soldotna Trustworthy reserves the right to disqualify a fish on questionable and harmful release tactics**
To enter your fish in the derby, send us a photo with your fish and if possible, a video of releasing the fish to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put angler’s name, age (Kid’s and Minnows), fish species, and lake where caught. If conditions allow and you want to send in a picture determining length of the fish, feel free! Just like previous years we determine length to be from the tip of the nose to the fork of the tail. HAVE FUN, BE SAFE, & GET OUT FISHING!