Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament sees youngest champion ever

Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 7:00 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Last year, the Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center reported multiple records: the most boats at 455, the most registered anglers at 1,562, and the youngest champion the tournament has ever seen.

That young angler’s name is Andrew Marley, just 10 years old.

Marley won the overall tournament on Saturday in Homer with a 25.62-pound white king — more than two pounds heavier than the second place fish. With the fish, he also won the White King Derby, the Youth Derby and several side tournaments.

“After it was on the boat I was like ‘oh my god, this is huge, like this may be a money fish,’” Marley said.

He was quite right. Marley received multiple prize packs loaded up with gear and other goodies, including a cash prize of $87,000 between all the contests he won.

He was on the boat with his family. His mom drove the boat, his dad held the net, and his older brother made way and got the gear ready when Marley had his fish on.

Even though it was such a monster fish, Marley said it didn’t put up a fight in the beginning.

“Until it saw the boat and it wanted to take about 120 yards of line, which was fun,” he said.

That’s when the fish tried to keep Marley from being a champion. Marley said it tried everything — going under the boat, cutting the line on the motor — but nothing worked. It was some of the longest five minutes of his life so far.

He caught the fish early Saturday morning, around 9:40 a.m., so he had some time to kill before he even knew he was actually the winner.

“And I was like, ‘I’m gonna go play mega jenga with my friends and cornhole for a while,’ and then came back, watched for the next 40 minutes and then realized that I won and I was like... wow,” Marley said.

His father, Jay, said his three sons have been fishing since they were in diapers. To watch his youngest hold up that prize fish was an achievement in itself.

“It’s so much more fun to see your son accomplish something like this than even for yourself,” Jay Marley said.

The oldest brother of three, Zach, has won the youth tournament twice, and got sixth place in the overall derby in 2018. Weston in the middle hasn’t had the chance to reel in a winning fish. Marley said his older brothers are — rightfully — a little jealous.

“My oldest brother is really jealous because he got sixth, but Weston is really jealous because he had to sit through that and watch Zach get sixth and me get first,” Marley said. “So we decided that until we get another money fish, he gets to fish.”

There won’t be any jealousy over the prize money, however. Marley said he got himself a new pair of shoes, and is hoping to get a new bike. He’s really got his eyes on a new boat if his dad will let him spend some of the money on that, but most of the money will be split between the three boys on college funds.

This is the second recent history-making year for the annual tournament. In 2019, the last year the tournament was held, Shayna Perry of Eagle River became the first woman to ever win the Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament.

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