VALDEZ, Alaska – Saturday was an exciting day for Steve Peichel of Frazee, Minnesota. He hooked a 246.8 pound halibut, weighed it in and took the lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby. Peichel’s halibut easily took the lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby weighing in at more than 30 pounds over the 214.8 pound halibut that was on top of the leader board, but it wasn’t an easy fish to reel in. “I hooked into it, it took about 30 minutes to bring it in,” Peichel said. “The fish ended up breaking the rod. We put two harpoons into it, pretty exciting afternoon.” Peichel’s halibut stands to win the first place prize of $10,000 if stays on top of the leader board through the end of the Halibut Derby September 5th. Maren Russman of Lino Lakes, Minnesota drops to 2nd place with her 214.8 pound fish and Terrence McCabe of Valdez is holding onto 3rd place with a 202.0 pound halibut he caught July 5th.
Last year’s Valdez Halibut Derby winner was Mickia Cenker of Fairbanks with a 224 pounder, in 2019 Christine Ives of Fairbanks won the top prize with a 285.6 pound flatfish. In 2018 it was Patricia Johnson of Clovis, California winning the 1st place prize in the halibut derby and in 2017 Frieda Wiley of Valdez set the record for largest halibut ever caught in the Valdez Halibut Derby with a mammoth 374 pound halibut.
The current leader in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby is an 11.46 pound fish caught by Spenser Herkelman of Columbus, Ohio. The 2nd place leader is Dan Garncarz of North Pole with an 11.10 pound silver and 3rd place is being held by Jessica McDowell of Richland, Michigan with an 10.96 pound silver. The grand prize for the largest silver salmon caught in Valdez is $10,000 cash. Dan Garncarz of North Pole, Alaska weighed in the second biggest silver in the derby this past Friday. His 11.10 pound fish won him the $500 cash Big Prize Friday prize in addition to the 1st place daily prizes. Last year’s 1st place Silver Salmon Derby was Alisa MacInnes of Tampa, Florida with a 14,88 pound silver. In 2019, it was Tom Karlsten of St. Cloud, Florida with a 15.32 pound fish and in 2018 Aksel Hutchinson took home the top prize in the derby with a 17.28 pound silver salmon.
The silver fishing should be excellent for the Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby August 14th. Valdez Fish Derbies will give cash and prizes to the Women catching the three biggest fish. Leaders for the day will be posted at weigh-in and derby officials are asking that only those with a fish close to the top weight go to the weigh-in in order to minimize the number of people at weigh-in. Registration is going on at the Valdez Prospector August 7th through 14th. Derby anglers purchase a ticket for the regular derby, in addition to the $20 fee for Women’s Derby, so they will be eligible for prizes in the regular derby as well as the Women’s Derby. The Women’s Derby Grand Prize is $1,000 cash plus Prospector Prizes valued at $1,000. There will be no in-person events for the Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby, but Door Prizes will be announced on the Women’s Derby Page of the Valdez Fish Derbies website and Women will get a small gift and can register for one of three prize packages at registration. Check the leader boards just below the Harbor Masters Office and on the weigh-in shack.