New Leader In The Valdez Halibut Derby

The following press release is courtesy of Valdez Fish Derbies:

Jeff Smith of Tucson, Arizona, is the new leader at the Valdez Halibut Derby after carching a 160.8-pounder aboard the Connie B III. (VALDEZ FISH DERBIES)

VALDEZ, Alaska – Last season, Paul Casey of Shelbyville, Tennessee took home the Valdez Halibut Derby 1st place prize of $10,000 with a halibut weighing in at 316.8-pounds. From 1991 to present, only two anglers have caught fish weighing in at less than 200-pounds and won the top prize for largest fish in the Valdez Halibut Derby. In 2015 Brad Burch of Clackamus, Oregon won 1st place with a 196.2-pound fish and Jeremy Smith of North Pole Alaska won the derby in 2022 with a 170-pound halibut. The size of the winning halibut has ranged from a 170-pounder caught in 2022 to the record breaking 374-pound halibut caught by Frieda Wiley in 2017.

The one constant in the Valdez Halibut Derby during the last several years is the ten-dollar price tag to buy a daily Halibut Derby ticket for the chance to win the $10,000 cash prize. Anglers wanting to fish all summer for a chance to catch a derby winning fish can purchase a Valdez Halibut Derby season ticket for $50 and fish the derby all summer long.

Twelve-year-old Summer Ruge of Fairbanks fell out of the lead but remains in a solid second place overall with her 159-plus-pound giant.

And the halibut fishing has been great. Eric Stream of Anchorage said he went way out 45 minutes past the lighthouse to reef last Sunday and the fishing was great. He said the boats that got out early seemed to do the best, but he caught a nice 98.6-pound halibut, black rockfish and hooked into a few yelloweye. The yellow eye rockfish had to be put back, but starting July 1 anglers can retain one yelloweye rockfish per day as part of the non-pelagic rockfish limit.

Even when you cannot get out too far or too fast, the fishing has been good. Jack Anderson of North Pole said his fishing started out a little bit slow because he had some engine trouble last week. “We lost one of our engines lowers so we were going at a snail’s pace but that seemed to be paid off. We got all our halibut that we were allowed for. And just about I think we were one shy on our rockfish.” Stan Stephens Cruises has reported seeing pink salmon during their tours and Justin Prax of Valdez said he saw few of them jumping between Montague Point and Applegate Shoal. 

Local Valdez angler Tim Bouchard caught a 153.4-pound halibut, placing him in third overall.

The Valdez Kids Pink Salmon Derby is Saturday July 20. Kids age 5 to 16 can get a free hat, fish in Valdez, and enter their picture on the website for a chance to win prizes. There will be four $100 Grand prize winners chosen by random and eight other lucky kids will win a fishing pole. This is a free event sponsored by Valdez Fish Derbies to get kids involved in fishing. Anglers can catch pink salmon trolling the waters but there are also miles of accessible shoreline at Allison Point and anglers need only a fishing pole and a pixie, spinner or vibrax to hook a good one. CLICK HERE for more information about the Valdez Kids Pink Salmon Derby. The Women’s Silver Salmon Derby is slated for Saturday, August 10 with an opening Treasure Hunt event on Friday, August 9. The Women’s Derby theme this year is “Carnival.”

Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders

1st           Jeff Smith                           Tucson, AZ                         160.8 lbs.           June 29                 Connie B III

2nd               Summer Ruge                  Fairbanks, AK                   159.4 lbs.           May 27                 Chugach Girl

3rd           Tim Bouchard                   Valdez, AK                          153.4 lbs.           June 28                 Alaskan Adventure

Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners – June 26th through July 2nd

1st           Jeff Smith                           Tucson, AZ                         160.8 lbs.           June 29                 Connie B III
2nd          Tim Bouchard                   Valdez, AK                          153.4 lbs.           June 28                 Alaskan Adventure