VALDEZ, Alaska – The Valdez Halibut Derby kicked off May 19th and Valdez Fish Derbies Weigh-In Clerk Joanne Winney said there were 11 fish weighed in the first week of the derby. Winney said that was a slow start, but all 11 fish weighed in over 72 pounds. On Saturday, 16-year-old Clayson Wiley of North Pole reeled in the largest fish so far, a 148.4 pound halibut aboard the Dan Orion. Wiley said, “My parents approached me a month ago and said, “Hey you want to go to Valdez? I said “no” and they said “great, we’re going on the 25th”. Wiley’s parents bought him a seat on a charter and a derby ticket and he reeled in the largest fish he has ever caught.
In an interview following the big catch, Wiley showed up sporting the Valdez Fish Derbies fleece jacket he won for the 1st place weekly prize and talked about his day fishing. “I grabbed a chicken tender and things went to chaos” said Wiley. “I was deathly afraid while reeling it in, (I thought) it was going to be a little bitty one. I didn’t want to struggle that much for a 15 pound fish”, said Wiley.
On Sunday, members of the Alaska military visited Valdez and the number of boats going out for halibut dramatically increased. The boats taking out anglers Sunday did not profit and donated their time to Military Appreciation Day. As part of Military Appreciation Weekend, the City of Valdez coordinates a program where boat owners donate halibut charters so first and second year Alaska-stationed military members can enjoy a day of halibut fishing. The City of Valdez also hosts military appreciation picnics and barbeques open to visitors and the community.
Charter Captains in Valdez are preparing for a busy season as anglers have high hopes of being the winner of the $10,000 first place prize in the Valdez Halibut Derby. A ticket costs $10 for the day or $50 for the season and must be purchased before heading out on the water. Ticket sale locations can be found at www.valdezfishderbies.com. The limit for halibut in Prince William Sound is still two per person, and one of those fish can be no longer than 29 inches in length. Halibut weigh-ins are conducted at the derby shack, located kitty corner from the Harbormasters office.
In addition to the grand prize of $10,000, 2nd place prize of $3,000 and 3rd place of $1,500 for catching the largest three fish, halibut derby anglers can also win weekly 1st and 2nd place prizes in the derby. The Halibut Hullabaloo is slated for June 8th through 17th. The angler catching the largest halibut during this period will win $1,000 in addition to the daily prizes.
This year, the Valdez Fish Derbies will also hold a drawing for $5,000 cash and everyone who purchases a ticket will be in the raffle, whether they go fishing or not. Every daily derby ticket purchased equals one raffle ticket, and each season ticket purchased equals five raffle tickets for the $5,000 drawing at the end of the season.
The Kids Pink Salmon Derby has been set for Saturday, July 21st and will feature 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes in four different age divisions. The Kids derby is free and open to kids age 5 to 16 years of age. The Silver Salmon Derby in Valdez will again boast a $10,000 first place prize and daily prizes and runs July 21st through September 2nd. The Annual Valdez Women’s Derby is slated for Saturday, August 11th with an opening ceremony Friday, August 10th and the closing ceremony Saturday night.
There will be a $500 prize for the vendor and operator selling the winning derby ticket in both derbies. For more information on the Valdez Derbies, visit: www.valdezfishderbies.com
Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders
1st Clayson Wiley North Pole, AK 148.4 lbs. May 26 Dan Orion
2nd Brian Auvil Fairbanks, AK 107.4lbs. May 27 Dan Orion
3rd Megan Bauer Two Rivers, AK 105.2 lbs. May 27 Halibut Grove
Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners – Week #1
1st Clayson Wiley North Pole, AK 148.8 lbs. May 26 Dan Orion
2nd John Mahle Gillette, WY 91.2 lbs. May 24 Lena Claire
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