239-Pounder Still Pacing Valdez Derby Lead

Tommy Early’s 129-pound halibut was the weekly winner in Valdez’s halibut derby. (VALDEZFISHDERBIES.COM)

The following press release is courtesy of Valdez Fish Derbies: 

VALDEZ, Alaska – Doug Cranor of Valdez, Alaska, reeled in a 239.0 pound halibut aboard the Redhead to take the lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby on June 23rd and, despite some close competition, is still in the lead. Cranor said his fish got hooked 15 feet under the boat as he was reeling up. “That’s how I got him”, Cranor said. “My friend caught a big king salmon the same day one boat over so it was a good day of fishing”. Indeed it was a good day fishing, as Russell Young of Fairbanks also reeled in his 226.0 pound halibut on June 23rd aboard the Dan Orion. Eric Johnson of North Pole is hanging onto 3rd place with a 149 pound halibut he caught June 22nd. The top three overall leaders in the Valdez derby have held their spots, but the competition for 1st and 2nd place weekly prizes has been intense.

Brian Tkacs of Chugiak, Alaska, went fishing with family on June 28th and reeled in a 116.6 pound halibut that put him in 2nd place on the weekly leader board. Tkacs was fishing with a family from Colorado. The wife, Kristin Smith reeled in an 80 pound halibut, her husband Thomas Smith caught a halibut about 100 pounds and 15 year-old Jackson Smith reeled in an 80 pounder. By the next day Tkacs had lost his spot in the weekly standings, but he said he was happy to be on the leader board for at least one moment of fame. Tkacs said he buys a derby ticket and definitely is a gambler but said he was glad there wasn’t a bet on board for who would have gotten sick first. “I would have won that too!” he chuckled.

Anglers are having success in Prince William Sound, catching halibut and rockfish and are excited to add Lingcod to the list of fish they can catch as the season opened July 1st. Lingcod bag and possession limit is one per day and one in possession. Valdez Charter Captain Josh Hughes reported seeing a few pink salmon jumping in the Sound.

According to a release on the Valdez Fisheries Development Association website, the anticipated return of pink salmon to Port Valdez is 16.9 million this summer. Typically the pink salmon are available the month of July and into August. There are a couple weeks in late July and early August in Valdez where anglers enjoy catching both pink salmon and silver salmon. More and more families are finding their way to Valdez to fish for pink salmon, halibut and silver salmon and Valdez Fish Derbies is hosting a free Kids Pink Salmon Derby on Saturday, July 21st. The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby starts July 21st so there will be a few weeks where anglers can catch both pink and silver salmon in Valdez.

The Women’s Silver Salmon Derby is slated for August 11th with an opening ceremony Friday night. The theme of this year’s Women’s Derby is “Circus” and there will be a group costume contest Friday night as well as live music and awards for the top 50 on Saturday night. CLICK HERE for details on the Women’s Derby.

Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders

1st   Doug Cranor     Valdez, AK 239.0 lbs. June 23 Redhead
2nd Russell Young Fairbanks, AK 226.0 lbs. June 23 Dan Orion
3rd Eric Johnson     North Pole, AK 149.0 lbs. June 22 Sea Walker

Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners – June 24th through 30th

1st   Tommy Early   Romeland, CA 129.2 lbs. June 29 Blueshewes
2nd    David Swigart North Pole, AK 129.0 lbs. June 30 Lena Claire

For more information on the Valdez Derbies, visit: www.valdezfishderbies.com