VALDEZ, Alaska – A normal weekend with the sun shining in Valdez would generally mean a town full of people enjoying scenery, fishing and tours. This year, the RV Parks, lodging and charters are open and trying to get by with far less business. The sportfishing industry is open and, while business is down, they are showing in-state visitors a good time. Melissa Schmidt is from Wasilla and decided to make the trip to Valdez. “We weren’t quite sure coming into it, going into a smaller community we definitely want to be respectful and careful”, said Schmidt.
Schmidt ended up catching an 86.4 pound halibut and getting on the Valdez Fish Derbies leader board for a few days. “We’re just happy to spend the day with our friends on the boat doing things that we love to do,” said Melissa. “It was definitely something to look forward to and the day was just really, really exceptional”.
For those venturing into Prince William Sound, the fishing has been great. Jeff Saxe of Valdez is leading the Valdez Halibut Derby with a 157 pound halibut he caught Mary 30th aboard his private boat. “Within 15 minutes we started getting bites,” said Saxe. “That 157 pounder was my first fish. We got our eight fish by noon and we were done and headed back to town”.
Weather over the weekend was great and allowed anglers to get out further into Prince William Sound, but Alaska Department of Fish and Game suggests that anglers try around Perry Island for a closer option. There have been some tremendous rockfish coming into the Port of Valdez. Alaska Department of Fish and Game suggests the best bet for getting pelagic black rockfish is out toward Montague Island and the west side of Hinchinbrook island. According to ADF&G fish have been feeding at the surface on free swimming pelagic snails.
For those wanting to do a bit of camping and toss a line, Blueberry and Thompson Lakes will be stocked in the next couple of weeks. Ruth Pond will also be stocked late June.
Those with a halibut derby ticket are eligible to participate in the Halibut Hullabaloo tournament for no additional cost. The angler catching the largest halibut in the derby between June 5th and 14th will win $500 cash in addition to the regular derby prizes. For more information on Valdez Fish Derbies, visit: www.valdezfishderbies.com.
Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders
1st Jeff Saxe Valdez, AK 157.0 lbs. May 30 Go Get Her
2nd Charles Young Fairbanks, AK 128.8 lbs. May 24 Reel Dream
3rd Robert Miller Fairbanks, AK 125.8 lbs. June 5 Dan Orion
Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners – Week #2
1st Robert Miller Fairbanks, AK 125.8 lbs. June 5 Dan Orion
2nd Ryan Woods Valdez, AK 125.4 lbs. June 6 See Ya