VALDEZ, Alaska – Scott Widdison of Meridian, Idaho reeled in a 194.2 pound halibut June 22nd aboard the Jaime Lynn to take the lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby. Jeffrey Gropp of Berlin, Wisconsin is currently in 2nd place overall with the 170.2 pound flat fish he caught June 15th aboard the Dan Orion. Daniel Bryant Jr. of Palmer, Alaska is currently in 3rd place overall with the 150.8 pound halibut he caught June 21st aboard the Halibut Grove.
Halibut fishing in the sound is picking up with the nicer weather allowing folks to get further out. The ocean entrances are always great places to catch halibut says a report from Alaska Department of Fish And Game (ADF&G) “Latouche and southern and northern ends of Montague are good bets too”, according to the weekly ADF&G report. ADF&G suggests when going for halibut, “If you fish just off the bottom you will decrease bycatch of rockfish and it does not hurt your chances of catching halibut”. The Ling Cod season will open July 1st in Prince William Sound.
Shrimping continues to be productive near Whittier and Valdez, but it’s generally better and better the farther you get away from ports according to ADF&G. They suggest moving those pots out a little deeper as summer moves on. “Once you figure out the depth they are at, start setting parallel sets at that depth and your pots will look a lot better coming up”.
With the halibut season well underway, anglers are looking forward to salmon returning to Port Valdez. Anglers aboard the Jaime Lynn have brought bright shiny silvers into Port already which has salmon fisherman excited for a much better silver salmon run than 2014. Pink salmon in Valdez should arrive in large numbers before the silvers and kids across the state are excited about that. While pinks can likely be caught July 4th weekend, there’s a Kids Pink Salmon Derby in Valdez Saturday, July 18th when the fish are thick in the Port. Valdez Fisheries Development Association is estimating a return of 15.7 million pink salmon to Port Valdez this year, so there should be plenty to catch. The Kids Pink Salmon Derby is free and the first 200 kids to weigh in a fish get a free t-shirt. The top three fish in four different age divisions will win a prize. There’s a free family BBQ at the end of the Derby.
In addition to great fishing during the 4th of July, the City of Valdez will be hosting a big 4th of July Block Party on Saturday, July 4th and fun events for the Pink Salmon Festival Sunday, July 5th. The Block Party will feature old fashioned kids games, a parade, community barbeque and fireworks. The Pink Salmon Festival will include a Pink Salmon Cookoff and community fish fry.