ComFish is arguably Kodiak’s biggest event of the year. It went virtual in 2020, and was rebooted in-person this year. And as afternoon clouds blew in on Saturday, a small crowd gathered in the Harbor Convention Center’s parking lot to watch the Fishermen’s Showcase.
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The four fishermen competing in this year’s challenge battled against the clock – and each other – completing essential skills of the trade at five different stations. First was rope coiling, then knot tying and a separate rail tie, where a line is fixed to a metal pole.
The final two stations were more challenging. Each contestant had to knock down a target with a hook toss. Only then could they pop their neoprene survival suits out of their dry bags and awkwardly wiggle into them.
Parry Nelson won the event in just under 2 minutes. The 35-year-old from Kodiak says he’s a lifelong fisherman – and it’s not his first Fishermen’s Showcase victory. He took home a knife and belt for this year’s win. He didn’t say if he’d return to defend his title in the future. Although, according to some in the crowd, they’d be back next year.
Nearly 40 exhibitors made the trip to Kodiak for this year’s tradeshow, and over a dozen panelists presented in-person and virtually the fishery forums. Attendance was down compared to pre-pandemic years, according to the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, but they’re hopeful that this year’s return to normal is a good sign for years to come.