Harbor ice pushes Winter King Tournament to next weekend
March 16th 8:31 pm | Sean Pearson
Ice floes cause angler woes for 24th-annual event
Following a meeting of the Winter King Salmon Tournament Safety Committee and Homer Port and Harbor earlier in week, the Homer Chamber of Commerce made the tough decision to postpone this weekend's 24th-annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament to next Saturday, March 25.
Thanks to the continued frigid temperatures that have ice racers tearing around the Beluga Lake track for the first time in three years, the Homer Harbor remains somewhat congested with ice floe halfway into the month of March.
The chamber indicated the decision to postpone was based on National Weather Service forecasts from the National Weather Service that called for continued cold temperatures and north winds causing freezing spray and icy conditions for Kachemak Bay.
"It happens," said 2014 tourney winner Raymond Tepp. "I thought the weather was going to be good, but I guess the ice in the harbor is a problem."
Tepp said he has an aluminum boat, so the ice doesn't matter much to him.
"But a lot of the boats are fiberglass," he said. "It's best to wait so the competition can get out there and fish."
North Country Charters Captain Ben Miller said his boat would have gotten out fine as well, but understands why the chamber made the decision it did.
"A lot of other users would have had a hard time, so I think it's a prudent decision," Miller said. "Ice is pretty difficult to manage."
According to the chamber's Tuesday press release, current conditions in the Homer Harbor and launch ramp pose "significant challenges to tournament participants." Out of concern for the safety of participants, boats and the harbor infrastructure, the chamber decided to move the tournament ahead one week.
Longtime fisherman and frequent tourney participant Trace Carlos said he questions the timing of the event.
"I know it's a 'winter' tournament, but we could still move it a bit closer to summer," Carlos said. "The weather might be nicer, and we'd certainly have more daylight to fish in."
The chamber indicated it would contact all anglers directly by email regarding their registration. Those already signed up for the March 18 event will have their registration automatically transferred to March 25.