With bluebird skies in Valdez much of last week, the Valdez Fish Derbies weigh-in shack was busy weighing in fish for anglers happy to hang out in the sunshine after returning to port. Several fish were weighed in over the 100 pound mark, most were just over the mark. The winner of the first place weekly prize is Joanna Smith of Fairbanks who reeled in a 125.7 pound halibut aboard the Dan Orion. The 2nd place weekly prize went to Evelyn Leslie-Wood of North Pole who reeled in a 123.5 pound halibut aboard the Dawn Treader.
While there was great competition for the weekly prizes, it was the 179.2 pound halibut Bonnie Woods caught last week that won $1,000 cash in the 10 day Halibut Hullabaloo tournament. Woods is currently leading the Valdez Halibut Derby. Steven Adams of Valdez is holding onto 2nd place with a 136.1 pound halibut he caught May 23rd and Benjamin Davis is currently in 3rd place with a 127.1 pound flatfish he caught May 26th.
Sunshine and calm seas seemed to be the perfect recipe for wildlife viewing in Valdez as many anglers reported seeing multiple whales and other wildlife. "We passed a pod of five whales frolicking near Montegue," said angler Steve Revis. "A humpback came right by where we were anchored and was about 100 yards from us and gave us a wave." Revis said he had a wonderful day on the water, catching halibut, sea bass yellow eye rock fish and a lot of ling cod. "July 1st is going to be the place to catch big Ling cod," remarked Revis. After July 1st anglers can keep ling cod.
With Ling cod opening July 1st and a big celebration on the 4th of July, Valdez should be hopping while the pink salmon make their way into Port Valdez. The 4th of July celebration will feature a block party, community bonfire and fireworks. On Saturday, July 7th Valdez will celebrate the "Pink Salmon Festival" with a pink salmon cookoff, community fish fry and other events. The Kids Pink Salmon Derby is set for Saturday, July 14th. The Kids Derby is open to children age 5 to 16 and there is no fee to enter. Kids just need to weigh-in a pink salmon at the Valdez Fish Derbies weigh-in station Saturday, July 14th to get a t-shirt and have a chance of winning one of the top three spots in their age division. A free family barbeque and awards will follow the day of fishing. The first 300 kids to stop by the weigh-in, will get a free t-shirt courtesy of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company and the Valdez Fish Derbies. The Silver Salmon Derby will start July 21st and the Women's Derby is August 10th and 11th.