147-Plus-Pounder Takes The Valdez Halibut Events Lead

The following press release is courtesy of Valdez Fish Derbies:


VALDEZ, Alaska – Erin Cruz of Wasilla, Alaska reeled in a 147.2-pound halibut June 2nd to take the lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby. Michael Simmons of North Pole, Alaska is in 2nd place overall with a 120.6-pound halibut reeled in on June 1st and Jason Waller of North Pole is currently in 3rd place overall with a 101.6-pound halibut he reeled in on June 3rd. According to Alaska Department of Fish and Game, halibut fishing is off to a slow start, but anglers are producing consistent catches near the entrances into Prince William Sound including Montague Strait, Hinchinbrook Entrance, Strawberry Channel/Orca Inlet and other passages. Additionally, several halibut have been caught this Spring in shallow waters (60 to 90 feet) in various bays throughout Prince William Sound.

Erin Cruz’s 147.2-pound halibut took the overall Valdez Halibut Derby and the Halibut Hullabaloo. (VALDEZ FISH DERBIES)

Erin Cruz of Wasilla, Alaska was fishing in Valdez with a purpose: to catch a Derby-worthy fish. When asked about her day, she responded: “Oh it was amazing! I was going for a derby fish. I was catching some good size ones, kept throwing them back. I was burned out for the day. I was like okay; this is the last [cast]. I let it hit the bottom, reeled three times, and the fish started running. It only took me 20 minutes to get it in.” That last cast netted her a 147.2-pound halibut, first place for the week, and put her in the lead in the overall standings as well as the Halibut Hullabaloo.

Fairbanks’ Jason Waller’s fish (101.6 pounds) ranks third.

The first two weeks of the Valdez Halibut Derby had anglers vying for the 1st and 2nd place weekly prizes, but anglers will soon have the opportunity to win $1,000 in the Valdez Halibut Hullabaloo contest. The popular 10-day Halibut Hullabaloo tournament kicked off June 2nd and will run through June 11th. The angler catching the largest halibut during that period, will win $1,000 cash in addition to the regular prizes. Erin Cruz of Wasilla, AK is currently leading the Halibut Hullabaloo with a 147.2-pound halibut caught June 2nd aboard Arctic Spirit. Last year’s Halibut Hullabaloo winner was Kamille Mulcaire of Fairbanks who won $1,000 cash with a 149.8-pound halibut.

Anglers going out for halibut are also catching rockfish. Rockfish limits are three fish per day, six in possession of which only one can be a nonpelagic rockfish. Additionally, yelloweye rockfish may not be retained from May 1 to June 30. With 10-to-30-pound rockfish being brought in this year, three rockfish can provide a fair amount of fish for the freezer. 

While halibut derby anglers are competing hard for the Halibut Hullabaloo prize and an opportunity to get on the overall leader board, salmon anglers are writing dates on their calendar. The Valdez Kids Pink Salmon Derby is scheduled for Saturday, July 22nd. Silver salmon derby charters are gearing up for a big season in Valdez.

The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby is slated to begin July 22nd and run through September 3rd. In addition to daily prizes in the Silver Salmon Derby, salmon anglers can win big money in the Tagged Fish Contest. There will also be a Women’s Silver Salmon Derby on August 12th. To find out more about events, check weigh-in hours, and find ticket vendor locations, visit 

Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders

1st        Erin Cruz                     Wasilla, AK                  147.2 lbs.         June 2              Arctic Spirit

2nd               Michael Simmons         North Pole, AK             120.6 lbs.         June 1              Nunatak           

3rd        Jason Waller                 Fairbanks, AK              101.6 lbs.         June 3              Bold Eagle

Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners – Week #1

1st        Erin Cruz                     Wasilla, AK                  147.2 lbs.         June 2              Arctic Spirit

2nd      Michael Simmons         North Pole, AK             120.6 lbs.         June 1              Nunatak