VALDEZ, Alaska – When LaVonne Baysinger of Fairbanks reeled in a 14.54-pound silver salmon and won a daily prize back on August 4th, she was thinking that a bigger fish might come in during the Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby and knock her off the leaderboard. Baysinger was unable to fish that day as she babysat her grandchildren so her daughter could fish in Women’s Derby aboard her boat the “Fixed Income”. Baysinger laughingly said that she would be fine if she got knocked off the leader board women’s derby weekend as long as it was by her daughter. Baysinger’s daughter did not win the Women’s Derby and no one knocked Baysinger out of her 1st place spot on the leader board.
With less than a week before the end of the derbies, Baysinger is still leading the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby and the possibility of winning the $10,000 grand prize was very real last week. When asked what she would do with the prize money, Baysinger responded, “If we win I would like to give some money to charity, to our church, to God in thanksgiving for the blessings of getting the fish and getting the prize”.
Valdez Silver Salmon Derby ticket sales are up this year and with one week left in the derby there are many anglers thinking they might pick up the $10,000 silver salmon. When asked why he buys a derby ticket, silver salmon angler Paul Casey said, “Any time you go out fishing and you buy a derby ticket, yah, you’re thinking it could be me!” With Valdez RV parks and hotels at capacity the final weekends of the derby, it seems there are lots of anglers thinking they can catch the big one and win prizes in the Valdez Fish Derbies. Both the Silver and Halibut Derbies end at noon on Sunday, September 3rd and the final winners will be announced. In addition to the derby grand prizes, there is also still a tagged fish swimming around in Prince William Sound that could net a lucky angler $10,000.
Regardless of whether anglers go home with prize money or not, most are taking home a cooler full of fish. Anglers are catching silver salmon at Allison Point and even at the City Dock and harbor. “We’re seeing more moving inside here and with silvers, when you move into later August it just gets better,” said angler Peter Probasco who took a daily 1st place prize with an 11.50-pound fish he caught August 22nd. Spinners, pixies, or a small piece of bait mooching are all good options for those targeting salmon from shore.
According to Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G), most anglers continue to produce steady catches of halibut further out near the entrances into Prince William Sounds including Montague Strait, Hinchinbrook Entrance and other passages. With thousands of pink salmon carcasses flushing into the Sounds, halibut fishing can be good in many of the inside bays. ADF&G suggests trying entrances of bays around Knight and Perry Island.