With push from local hatchery, successful Slam'n Salmon Derby wraps up Sunday

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Just as they have for the past five years or so, the fish are swimming strong at the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery.

"All of our production is geared toward the enhancement of sport fisheries throughout the state of Alaska," said Jeff Milton, hatchery program manager.

Head outside, and you'll find the released relatives of those fish flying. In large part, Milton said, due to the hatchery.

"Without the hatchery, there would probably be few if any adults returning to Ship Creek," he said.

Among its productions are droves of coho salmon, and of course, chinook salmon too: The coveted king.

This year, for the first time, it was a full set of age classes in the return, which certainly bodes well for participants of the Slam'n Salmon Derby, run by the Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center which serves the at-risk community of Anchorage.

The derby has seen hundreds of catches over the past week or so. They don't all make the leaderboard, but the love of fishing is certainly alive and well. And, everyone with a catch has won in their own way.

"Lots of ways to win," said Nicole Decker, Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center Program Manager. "You can come on down and support our mission. And it's great fun."

The final day of this year's Slam'n Salmon Derby run will be Sunday, June 18. The derby will run from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. followed by awards and a barbecue at Ship Creek.

If you can't make it, the Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center is always in need of volunteers and donations. Visit the group's main website for more information.