VALDEZ, Alaska – Many anglers braved the cold and rain in Valdez to best the 17.28 pound silver caught by eight-year-old Aksel Hutchinson of Valdez, but his fish is still holding onto 1st place and stands a good chance of winning the $10,000 first place prize in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby. 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 derbies weighed in at 22.14 pounds.
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.
The lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby is still being led by Patricia Johnson of Clovis, California. Johnson reeled in a 285.8 pound halibut July 26th aboard the Harvester. 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 be Frieda Wiley of Valdez just last year.
The final Big Prize Friday of the season is this Friday, August 31st. 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 2nd. Weigh-In will close at Noon on Sunday, September 2nd and the derby awards party will be held 6pm Sunday night at the Elks Lodge. Everyone who bought a derby ticket will be entered in a drawing for a $5,000 cash prize and that drawing will be held at the Derby Awards Party Sunday, September 2nd.
Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders
1st Patricia Johnson Clovis, CA 285.8 lbs. July 26 Harvester
2nd Doug Cranor Valdez, AK 239.0 lbs. June 23 Redhead
3rd Russell Young Fairbanks, AK 226.0 lbs. June 23 Dan Orion
Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners
1st Don Thomas Las Vegas, NV 197.4 lbs. Aug 25 Dan Orion
2nd Gavin Chrestiensen Palmer, AK 157.2 lbs. Aug 22 Jaime Lynn
Silver Derby – Overall Leaders
1st Aksel Hutchinson Valdez, AK 17.28 lbs. Aug 11 Amanda Rose
2nd Daniel Schneider Anchorage, AK 16.64 lbs. Aug 4 Sea Duck
3rd Leslie West Provo, UT 16.48 lbs. Aug 11 Sea Ducks