Young fishermen reels prize winning fish

A Sooke teen brought in a 44-pound Chinook to win the top $5,000 prize at last weekend’s derby

On Aug. 4, 14-year-old Zack Homer caught a fish story to tell for generations.

The local teen reeled in a nearly 44-pound Chinook to win the Sooke Salmon Enhancment Derby first place cash prize of $5,000.

Homer and his grandfather, Dave Homer, set out on the open ocean at 5 a.m. for the first day of the derby.

What was expected to be a regular day of fishing turned when the teen snagged the massive salmon around 6:45 a.m. near Sheringham Point.

“It was really exciting,” he said.

“We actually got it tangled in another person’s line, and it was just me and my grandpa there, so my grandpa was helping me out.”

The third party fisherman was kind enough to release his line, so that Homer and his grandfather could bring in the prize Chinook.

According to Homer, the monster-size salmon put up a fight that lasted about 45 minutes.

The fishing line ran right to the end, causing Homer and his grandfather to trail behind the resistant salmon with their boat.

“We had to chase it with the boat so we could get a little line,” Homer stated.

His grandfather continued to untangle the line, while Homer reeled in the fish.

At first uncertain whether or not they had a handle on the salmon, Homer said it was clear it was a winner when netted.

“You could see him coming over the boat when we netted him that it was a big one. You definitely didn’t want to mess up.”

The first-time derby entrant will be sharing the prize money with his fishing mentor and  grandfather, who won second place in the derby last year.

“I’m splitting it with my grandpa because he’s taken me out lots of times and he took me out that time, too.”

Homer added his grandfather, and great grandfather have been taking him out on the water since he was one years old.

Although his parents would like him to allocate the winnings to a college fund, Homer has other plans.

“I’m not sure what I’m doing with the rest, maybe put it towards an ATV or something.”