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She may be just 12, but this Tri-Cities girl is now ‘Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood’

Pasco 12-year-old wins Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby

Maleah Chapin, 12, of Pasco, was crowned the Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood in Valdez, Alaska, after catching a 13.46 pound silver salmon.
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Maleah Chapin, 12, of Pasco, was crowned the Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood in Valdez, Alaska, after catching a 13.46 pound silver salmon.

A 12-year-old Pasco girl ended her first fishing derby last weekend with $1,000 and a tiara.

Maleah Chapin was one of about 600 women and girls to enter the Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby in Alaska on Aug. 10.

She’s had plenty of experience fishing for trout in lakes and rivers closer to home with her mother, who also loves to fish.

“I’ve always been the one that catches the little tiny fishes,” said Maleah, the daughter of Mark and Kathleen Snyder.

But the derby, entered during a family vacation, was ocean fishing for much bigger fish, coho salmon.

Maleah said she spotted her prize-winning salmon swimming in the water and grabbed her fishing pole.

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Maleah Chapin, 12, holds the silver salmon that took top prize in the Valdez, Alaska, Silver Salmon Derby. Courtesy Kathleen Snyder

“Ma, come help me,” she called.

“She grabs me and held me down,” Maleah said. One of her two older sisters helped her reel it in.

“It was a struggler,” she said.

She didn’t realize how big her catch was until it was in the boat.

“It was like flash-bang,” she said.

“Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood”

The salmon weighed 13.46 pounds, the largest caught in the competition.

It got her crowned “Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood” and wrapped in the winner’s ceremonial pink bathrobe during the derby’s traditional pajama party.

“This is my first time winning anything,” she said, as she sat on her throne in her new bathrobe, rubber boots and braids.

She’ll bring back $1,000 in sporting-related goods and $1,000 in cash to Pasco.

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Maleah Chapin, 12, holds the silver salmon that took top prize in the Valdez, Alaska, Silver Salmon Derby. Courtesy Kathleen Snyder

“School is the most important to me,” she said. She plans to save the money for school and for track, where she’d like to try pole vaulting. She’ll be at McLoughlin Middle School this year.

She likes the outdoors and describes herself as a “tom boy,” spending lots of time with her four older brothers, who separate her in age from her two older sisters.

Her derby win has convinced her that she really is a good angler.

“It inspires me,” she said. She is making plans for more fishing with her mom.

One thing she doesn’t like is eating fish. But she’s going to try her prize-winning catch, preferably smoked.

“When you catch it like a champ, you have to eat it like a champ,” she said.

Senior staff writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, the environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She’s been a news reporter for more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.
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