VALDEZ, Alaska – With less than two weeks left in the Valdez Halibut and Silver Salmon Derbies, only time will tell if the leaders will hold on to win the $15,000 first place prize.
Frieda Wiley caught a 374.0 pound halibut August 6th and stands a good chance of holding onto the lead. Her fish is the largest halibut on record in the Valdez Halibut Derby. If you look at the record books, Tim Stadtmiller’s 266.6 pound halibut would be a 1st place winner in previous years. Stadtmiller caught a 266.6 pound halibut June 19th aboard the Dan Orion. The angler in 3rd place overall last week was Grant Stultz of Reston, Virginia. His fish was bested by Brett Fickler of Omaha, Nebraska on August 18th. Fickler reeled in a 197.4 pound halibut aboard the Lena Claire and only time will tell if it holds on until the end of the halibut derby Sunday, September 3rd at noon.
While it looks like the halibut derby is a lock for Wiley with her 374.0 pound halibut, the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby is far from over. The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby began in 1971 and since then only eight fish weighing less than 16.96 have been winners. The smallest winner on record is Jim Burzinski’s 15.11 pound silver caught the first year of the derbies in 1971. In the last 20 years, winners have been in the 17 to 22 pound range. The current overall leader is Cole Baxter of Fayetteville, Georgia with a 15.62 pound silver salmon caught on July 26th aboard Shark Tooth Charters. Chinda Heston, the 2017 Women’s Derby winner, is holding onto 2nd place with the 14.88 pounder she caught August 12th and Mike Zanazzo got into the overall standings in 3rd place with a 14.60 pound silver salmon he caught August 16th. Larger silver salmon have been caught in Valdez according to Valdez Fish Derbies Weigh-In Coordinator Dana Morales, but they didn’t have a derby ticket.
Silver salmon fishing has been productive at Galena Bay, Sawmill Bay, Shoup Bay and the Narrows. Anglers are already catching fish from Allison Point and the City Dock. “The run doesn’t seem to be bunched up this year” said Joe Prax of Prospector Outfitters. “That means the last two weeks of the derby should be good fishing from shore as well as from a boat”. The Valdez Halibut and Silver Salmon Derbies end Sunday, September 3rd at noon. The raffle for $10,000 cash will be held that day after the close of the derby. Everyone who purchased a Valdez derby ticket will be entered in that drawing. Silver and Halibut Derby winners will be awarded and the drawing will be held at the Derby Awards party Sunday, September 3rd at 6pm at the Elks Lodge.
Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders
1st Frieda Wiley Valdez, AK 374.0 lbs. Aug 6 Dan Orion
2nd Tim Stadtmiller Fairbanks, AK 266.6 lbs. June 19 Dan Orion
3rd Brett Fickler Omaha, NE 197.4 lbs. Aug 18 Lena Claire
Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners
1st Brett Fickler Omaha, NE 197.4 lbs. Aug 18 Lena Claire
2nd Mitch Wallace Corpus Christi, TX 164.4 lbs. Aug 18 Sea Quester
Silver Derby – Overall Leaders
1st Cole Baxter Fayetteville, GA 15.62 lbs. July 26 Shark Tooth Charter
2nd Chinda Heston Valdez, AK 14.88 lbs. Aug 12 Sandi
3rd Mike Zanazzo North Pole, AK 14.60 lbs. Aug 16 Private Boat