Derby News – Week 4, 6/08-6/14
VALDEZ, Alaska – The Valdez Halibut Derby weigh-in station was busy with anglers weighing in fish for a chance to take home the $1,000 Halibut Hullabaloo prize. Many fish were weighed in just over 100 pounds. At the end of the derby week, the weekly winners were Justin Heminger of Fairbanks with a 114.8 pound halibut he caught aboard the Aleashia June 12th. Brian Lee of Anchorage took the 2nd place weekly prize with a 114.0 pound halibut he caught June 9th aboard the Jaime Lynn. Heminger’s sizeable fish was caught the day before the start of the Halibut Hullabaloo tournament so he will not have a chance at the $1,000 cash prize, but he did take home a coveted Valdez Fish Derbies jacket and a bevy of prizes.
Just ounces short of being a weekly winner, John Savage of Eagle River brought in a 113.8 pound halibut June 13th, the first day of Halibut Hullabaloo, to take the lead in the tournament. The prize for the person catching the largest halibut between June 13th and 22nd is $1,000 cash in addition to the weekly prizes.
In the overall standings, it’s still the early fish holding onto the lead. Matthew West of Morris Plains, New Jersey caught a 152.8 pound halibut June 2nd aboard the Dan Orion and is still solidly in 1st place overall. Nicholas Baker of Gatesville, Texas is currently in 2nd place overall with the 145.6 pound halibut he caught May 26th aboard the Jaime Lynn and Bonnie Woods of Valdez is currently in 3rd place overall with the 126.2 pound halibut she caught June 2nd aboard the Dan Orion.
Local Valdez resident Rod Morrison and Dave Wilson of Fairbanks both reported seeing salmon jumping around Hinchinbrook Island. Mike Wells said the Valdez Fisheries Development Association is permitted to release an average of 219 to 220 million pink salmon fry each year. According to Wells, the anticipated return for pink salmon is 12.9 million. “This should make for pretty lively fishing along the banks by the hatchery”. Wells said he expects the fishing for pinks to start late June. “By the first week in July, fish are starting to settle in around Allison Point and the fishing is good into the first part of August,” Wells said.
To give anglers an idea of how good angling is for pink salmon in Valdez, one just needs to compare the pink return to the anticipated silver return. While 12.9 million pinks are expected to return to Port Valdez, just 106,000 silver salmon are expected return to Valdez. The silver fishing in Valdez is well regarded and 106,000 silver salmon is a pretty standard return. There are just that many more pink salmon. “Pinks are a great fish for kids,” commented Wells. “There are so many of them and they’re easy to catch’. The Kids Pink Salmon Derby is Saturday, July 19th. The Kids Derby is free and the first 300 kids to weigh in a fish get a free t-shirt. The top three fish in four different age divisions will win a prize. There’s a free family BBQ at the end of the Derby.
This coming weekend will bring the end of the Halibut Hullabaloo tournament, but the Valdez Halibut Derby runs through August 31st. The City of Valdez will be hosting a Kite Festival in Valdez Saturday, June 28th, a big 4th of July Block Party on Friday, July 4th and fun events for the Pink Salmon Festival Saturday, July 5th.
Valdez Halibut Derby Overall Leaders
Weekly Winners – Week 4
114.0 lbs on June 9
Weekly Winners – Week 3
Weekly Winners – Week 2
Weekly Winners – Week 1