VALDEZ, Alaska – Freida Wiley’s 374.0 pound halibut is the largest fish ever caught in the Valdez halibut derby and Cole Baxter’s 15.62 pound silver salmon is one of the smallest silver salmon winners ever caught in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby. In fact, there has only been one other silver salmon weighing less than 16 pounds that ended up a winner. The smallest silver to ever win the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby was Jim Burzinski’s 15.11 pound silver caught back in 1971.
The Valdez Silver Salmon derby is the oldest derby in the state but records for winners only date back to 1971. The derby was started by the Chamber of Commerce in 1952 and several years back Bill Wyatt, owner of Bear Paw RV Park and owner of a small hotel in the 50’s, recalled the prize for the first derby was $500 and the first winner of the silver derby was Loren St. Amond with an 18.8 pound silver salmon. A history of the Valdez Fish Derbies can be found HERE.
Many anglers braved the cold and rain in Valdez to best the 15.62 pound silver caught July 26th by Baxter, but his fish held on to win the $15,000 first place prize in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby. Homer Huffman of Valdez took home the 2nd place prize of $5,000 with a 15.10 pound silver salmon and 3rd place was won by Randy Arndt of Wasilla with a 14.98 pound silver salmon.
In the Valdez Halibut Derby, it was no surprise that Frieda Wiley stayed at the top of the leader board with the record 374 pound halibut she caught August 6th aboard the Dan Orion. Wiley takes home the $15,000 first place prize and has the distinction of catching the largest halibut on record in the Valdez Halibut Derby. Tim Stadtmiller of Fairbanks took 2nd place in the derby with a 266.6 pound halibut he caught June 19th and Brett Fickler of Omaha, Nebraska took 3rd place with a 197.4 pound halibut he caught August 18th.
Big Prize Friday winner was Michael Swisher of Finjsburg, MD with a 14.38 pound silver he caught from shore. Finjburg took home $500 in addition to the daily prizes. And the $10,000 cash prize winner for holding the winning ticket drawn at the Valdez Fish Derbies end of the year awards party was Roger Johnson from Great Falls Montana. At press time, Johnson was camping and had not yet heard about his winning ticket.
Halibut Derby – Overall Winners
1st Frieda Wiley Valdez, AK 374.0 lbs. Aug 6 Dan Orion
2nd Tim Stadtmiller Fairbanks, AK 266.6 lbs. June 19 Dan Orion
3rd Brett Fickler Omaha, NE 197.4 lbs. Aug 18 Lena Claire
Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners
1st George Brewer North Las Vegas, NV 92.0 lbs. Aug 27 Dan Orion
2nd Tim Cooper Olathe, KS 75.4 lbs. Aug 27 Jamie Lynn
Silver Derby – Overall Winners
1st Cole Baxter Fayetteville, GA 15.62 lbs. July 26 Shark Tooth Charter
2nd Homer Huffman Valdez, Alaska 15.10 lbs. August 25 Off Shore
3rd Randy Arndt Wasilla, AK 14.98 lbs. August 26 Miss Esther