Michelle Murrary

A first-time derby fisherwoman from Eagle River walked away with the top prize in the 64th annual Silver Salmon Derby. Michelle Murray took the $10,000 first place with a 15.99-pound silver salmon that she caught Tuesday, Aug. 13.

She took a special trip back to Seward to be present for the Sunday award ceremony, where the Seward Chamber of Commerce handed out over $50,000 worth of prizes to derby competitors at the Breeze Inn Lounge. The derby ran from Aug. 10 to Aug. 18.

Murray caught her winning fish during a serendipitous second day on the water.

“I wasn’t even supposed to be here on Tuesday when I caught the fish, because my sister got seasick on Monday,” Murray said. She does not yet know what she will do with her prize money, and said she is “still taking it all in.”

The contest for heaviest fish was extremely close this year, “one of the closest and most competitive top tens we’ve had in years,” said Chamber spokesperson Jen Leahy.

Second-place winner Angela Garner won $5,000 for her 15.97-pound fish. Ron Goodwin walked away with $2,500 for a 15.96-pounder.