VALDEZ, Alaska – Chad Yanen of Anchorage stood by his 119-pound catch at the Valdez Harbor Saturday night and waited as the final minutes of the Halibut Derby week ticked away. Yanen got back to Port and weighed his fish just 30 minutes prior to the close of the Valdez Halibut Derby week and anxiously waited for the day to end with his name on the leader board. Yanen said he hooked into his big fish at the very start of the day and by the time he returned to Port Valdez, he very clearly understood that his 10 dollar investment in a Valdez Halibut Derby ticket could win him a bevy of prizes. Saturday was Yanen’s very first-time halibut fishing and he said he wouldn’t have had the chance to go if someone else hadn’t backed out of the trip and left an empty seat. When sharing about his lucky trip, Yanen said: “You can’t beat it. It was pretty much the best adventure that I could actually think of if it was [going] to be my first time catching some halibut.”
Yemen’s fish was not large enough to knock John Weiss and his 124.4-pound halibut out of the 1st place weekly spot, but it was enough to win him the 2nd place weekly prize. John Weiss of Fairfax, Virginia caught his 124.4-pound halibut on July 6th aboard the Patriot and ended with the 1st place weekly prize. Troy Dolge of Copper Center, Alaska is currently in 1st place overall in the Valdez Halibut Derby with a 203.0-pound halibut he caught June 4th aboard the Reflection. Lucas Butkiewicz is currently in 2nd place overall with a 161.6-pound halibut caught July 1st aboard the Patriot. And Erin Cruz of Wasilla is currently in 3rd place with a 147.2-pound halibut she caught June 2nd aboard the Arctic Spirit.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports halibut fishing has been fair to good with most anglers picking up bigger fish further out near the entrances in Prince William Sound including Montague Strait, Hinchinbrook Entrance and other passages. ADF&G suggests fishing around Perry Island for those wanting to stay closer and reports that catches of Pacific (gray) cod have been good throughout Prince William Sound. Ling cod season opened July 1st and several trophy lingcod (weighing more than 55 pounds) were caught this week.
Fish cutter Pat Olson said he is starting to see more pink salmon coming in and has even filleted a few silver salmon. The 2023 Valdez Kids Pink Salmon Derby is Saturday, July 22nd and open to kids aged 5 to 16. Kids qualify for prizes by picking up a free Valdez Fish Derbies hat and posting a picture of themselves with the hat and a pink salmon in Valdez. Winners will be chosen at random to win cash prizes and fishing poles. The Kid’s Derby is sponsored by Valdez Fish Derbies and there is no entry fee. Pink salmon fishing is generally productive at Allison Point and along the shorelines. Pixies, spinners and Vibrax are all good options.