VALDEZ, Alaska – The first official week of the Valdez Halibut Derby ended Saturday night at 8pm, and Chris Milles of Melbourne, Florida was at the top of the leader board with a 150.0-pound halibut. Stuart Wygant of North Pole, Alaska is currently 2nd place in the overall derby with a 110.8-pound halibut and Maxwell Garchow of Fort Wainwright, Alaska is currently in 3rd place with a 96.0-pound halibut.
There are weekly 1st and 2nd place prizes in the Valdez Halibut Derby. In addition to Fish Derby jackets and vests, weekly winner prize packets include gift certificates from derby sponsors. The weekly prizes are great, but derby anglers all want to win the $10,000 grand prize for having the largest halibut of the season. So, what does it take to bring home the big money? Last year, Steve Peichel of Frazee, Minnesota won the $10,000 grand prize with a 246.8-pound halibut. In 2020, Mickia Cenker of Fairbanks took home the cash with a 224.0-pound halibut and in 2019, Christine Ives of Fairbanks took top honors with a 285.6-pound halibut.
The odds of being knocked off the leader board will probably go up in early June as anglers converge on Valdez to compete in the Halibut Hullabaloo tournament June 3rd through 12th. The angler catching the largest halibut during Halibut Hullabaloo will take home $1,000 in addition to the regular derby prizes. There is no fee to enter the Halibut Hullabaloo, but to compete in the tournament and regular derbies a derby ticket must be purchased before anglers leave the dock. The 2021 Halibut Hullabaloo winner was Gary Gardner of Valdez who reeled in a 133.2-pound halibut during the 10-day event. In 2020, the Halibut Hullabaloo winner was Cody Buchanan of Hamlin, Texas with a 127-pound halibut. In 2017, Tim Stadtmiller won the Halibut Hullabaloo when he reeled in a 266.6-pound halibut and his fish hung on to take 2nd place in the overall derby but the last four years the winning Halibut Hullabaloo fish weighed less than 150 pounds.
A daily Valdez Fish Derby ticket costs $10 and a season ticket is $50 for both the Silver Salmon Derby and the Valdez Halibut Derby. The grand prize for the largest halibut caught in Valdez this season is $10,000, 2nd place is $3,000 and 3rd place is $1,500. The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby has daily 1st and 2nd place prizes and also features a $10,000 first place prize for the largest silver caught between July 23rd through September 4th, $3,000 for 2nd place and $1,500 for 3rd place.
The Valdez Kid’s Pink Salmon Derby is on Saturday, July 23rd. Find weigh-in hours, ticket vendor locations, and more at www.valdezfishderbies.com. The tagged fish contest will have a larger grand prize for 2022 as one of the tagged fish swimming around Prince William Sound will net an angler a $10,000 cash prize. The Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby is happening Saturday, August 13th and the Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood Derby will feature a new Friday night event that will encourage participating anglers to go out on the town Friday night in search of fun and prizes. CLICK HERE to find out more about the Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby.