VALDEZ, Alaska – It’s a pretty sure bet that there’s a silver salmon bigger than 15.32 pounds swimming around in Prince William Sound but whether an angler with a Valdez Fish Derby ticket will catch it and weigh it in before the end of the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby is anyone’s guess. Currently Tom Karlsten of St. Cloud, Florida is leading the derby with a 15.32 pound silver he caught August 19th aboard the Long Shot. Karlsten said his wife is the Captain and credited her for putting him on the fish. If Karlsten’s silver is at the top of the leader board at the end of derby Sunday, September 1st at noon, he stands to win the $10,000 first place prize. The angler taking 2nd place in the Silver Salmon Derby will win $3,000 and the 3rd place derby angler will win $1,500. The smallest silver to ever win the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby was Jim Burzinski’s 15.11 pound silver caught back in 1971. The largest silver salmon ever caught in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby weighed in at 22.14 pounds.
Silvers are being caught in the Valdez Arm in good number and the concentration of silvers in Port near Gold Creek, Allison Point and even the Valdez Boat Harbor is increasing. 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 many 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.
The lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby is still being held by Christina Ives of Fairbanks. Ives reeled in a 285.6 pound halibut June 6th aboard the Nunatak. The 1st place prize in the halibut derby is $10,000 cash, the 2nd place prize is $3,000 and the 3rd place prize is $1,500. The largest halibut ever caught in the Valdez Halibut Derby is the 374 pound fish caught by Frieda Wiley of Valdez in 2017. Halibut fishing has been good for most anglers getting out further. Alaska Department of Fish and Game suggests trying large bait on muddy bottom off a rocky slope in 200 to 300 feet of water when fishing inside Prince William Sound.
The final Big Prize Friday of the season is this Friday, August 30th. The angler catching the largest silver salmon this Friday will take home $500 in addition to the daily prizes. The Valdez Fish Derbies, both halibut and salmon, will end Sunday, September 1st. Weigh-In will close at Noon on Sunday, September 1st and the derby awards party will be held 6pm Sunday night at the Elks Lodge.
Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders
1st Christine Ives Fairbanks, AK 285.6 lbs. June 6 Nunatak
2nd Christopher Barnes Moorhead, MN 225.6 lbs. June 24 Sea Quester
3rd Joshua Curry Valdez, AK 213.4 lbs. July 21 Mistress
Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners
1st James McCay Valdez, AK 98.2 lbs. Aug 19 Lena Claire
2nd Steve Hylton Boise, ID 92.2 lbs. Aug 20 Orion
Silver Derby – Overall Leaders
1st Tom Karlsten St. Cloud, FL 15.32 lbs. Aug 19 Long Shot
2nd Pravat Phumin Valdez, AK 14.68 lbs. Aug 13 Seagull 2
3rd Tobey James Fisher Tifton, GA 14.42 lbs. Aug 16 Kittywake