VALDEZ, Alaska – Nate Hammond of Laurel, Maryland considers himself a reluctant fisherman, but that didn’t stop him from reeling in the biggest halibut during a halibut charter last week. “I consider myself Nate the reluctant sportsman because I don’t fish. My wife got into it, and she’s dragged me along on all these trips. And she has a good friend who’s like a fishing expert and they were like, we’re going to Alaska and we’re going to fish for halibut at Valdez,” Hammond went along for the experience and ended up catching the largest fish and getting on the Valdez Halibut Derby leader board. “It’s hilarious,” Hammond said. “I think we live in an irony machine because I’m not a fisherman, I’m just a regular (guy), I’m a computer programmer with a wife that fishes.”
Hammond’s fish weighed just over 100 pounds and held the weekly lead for just a short time before it was replaced by a bigger fish but he enjoyed the experience. “It’s fun, I’m not like a fishing fanatic at this point,” Hammond said, “but it was really neat to be out on the boat just relaxing and looking at the mountains all around you, beautiful.” Micah Eason of Wasilla, Alaska thoroughly enjoyed the rush he got bringing in his first halibut ever. Eason reeled in a 127.8-pound halibut July 3rd to take the 2nd place weekly prize and June Serrato of Walsenburg, Colorado took the 1st place weekly prize with a 141.8-pound halibut she caught on July 4th. Jeremy Smith of North Pole is leading the Valdez Halibut Derby with a 170-pound halibut he caught June 23rd. Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports halibut catches have been fair to good for anglers going out further toward Montague. Those staying inside the Sound are having the best success when soaking a chum bag and waiting a couple hours. ADF&G suggests fishing off rocky areas in muddy bottoms in depths of 300 to 400 feet but said not to rule out fishing in 150 to 300 feet of water as this can also be productive.
Pink salmon are starting to show up in Valdez and fishing from shore should pick up in the coming weeks. The 2022 Valdez Kids Pink Salmon Derby is Saturday, July 23rd and open to kids aged 5 to 16. Kids qualify for prizes by picking up a free Valdez Fish Derbies hat and posting a picture of themselves with the hat and a pink salmon in Valdez. Winners will be chosen at random to win cash prizes and fishing poles. The Kid’s Derby is sponsored by Valdez Fish Derbies and there is no entry fee. Pink salmon fishing is generally productive at Allison Point and along the shorelines. Pixies, spinners and Vibrax are all good options.
The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby will start Saturday, July 23rd with a grand prize of $10,000 cash for the largest fish caught. The Women’s Silver Salmon Derby is slated for Saturday, August 13th and a new Coho Cruise Night event is slated for Friday, August 12th. CLICK HERE for more information.