VALDEZ, Alaska – Chris Milles of Melbourne, Florida reeled in a 150-pound halibut May 28th to take the lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby and has held first place since. Shannon Curtis of Mosca, Colorado is in second place overall with a 132.6-pound halibut reeled in on June 3rd, with Stuart Wygant of North Pole, Alaska in third overall with the 110.8-pound halibut he reeled in on May 28th.
Milles is originally from Fairbanks, so he is no stranger to fishing, but said this is the largest halibut he has ever caught. Milles was out fishing the Sound for two days and said the fishing had been a bit slow prior to hooking the big halibut, “We had two fish in, and all of a sudden we hit this 150-pounder.”
While the overall leaders are all sizeable, they were caught too early to be contenders in the Valdez Halibut Hullabaloo contest. The popular 10-day Halibut Hullabaloo tournament kicked off June 3rd and will run through June 12th. The angler catching the largest halibut during that period, will win $1,000 cash in addition to the regular prizes. Shannon Curtis of Mosca, Colorado is currently leading the Halibut Hullabaloo with a 132.6-pound halibut caught June 3rd aboard Reflection. Last year’s Halibut Hullabaloo winner was Gary Gardner of Valdez who won $1,000 cash with a 133.2-pound halibut.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports good halibut catches for those getting out in the nice weather and travelling out further toward Montague Island. However, ADF&G said that more catches of small to medium sized halibut are being reported. They suggest putting out a chum bag to help attract the fish when you are anchoring up.
Anglers going out for halibut are also catching rockfish. Savannah Gibson of Pocatello, Idaho said she was happy to bring her rockfish catch to a local processor and bring home 27 pounds of meat for rockfish tacos. Rockfish limits are four fish per day, eight in possession of which only one can be a nonpelagic rockfish. With 10-to-30-pound rockfish being brought in this year, four rockfish can provide a fair amount of fish for the freezer. Laura Saxe of Eagle’s Rest RV Park reported she has talked with several anglers actively targeting King Salmon out of Valdez and they are having some success.
While halibut derby anglers are competing hard for the Halibut Hullabaloo prize and an opportunity to get on the overall leader board, salmon anglers are writing dates on their calendar. The Valdez Kids Pink Salmon Derby is scheduled for Saturday, July 23rd. Silver salmon derby charters are gearing up for a big season in Valdez.
The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby is slated to begin July 23rd and run through September 4th. In addition to daily prizes in the Silver Salmon Derby, salmon anglers can win big money in the Tagged Fish Contest. There will also be a Women’s Silver Salmon Derby August 13th. To find out more about events, check weigh-in hours, and find ticket vendor locations, visit www.valdezfishderbies.com.