VALDEZ, Alaska – With less than two weeks left in the Valdez Halibut and Silver Salmon Derbies, only time will tell if eight-year-old Aksel Hutchinson will remain the leader of the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby and take home the $10,000 grand prize. Silver salmon are already being caught just off the City Docks and at Allison Point so there will be a lot of opportunities for anglers to catch salmon the last two weeks of the derby. Although he is only eight, Hutchinson said his Mom told him all about the derbies and he has a plan for the money if he should happen to win. “I would buy a reel, and some tickets to go to Hawaii and Texas and a scope (hunting)”.
Aksel Hutchinson said he named his fish “Grandpa because it was very old. Hutchinson is an avid fisherman and eagerly provided tips for fishing Robe Lake and Ruth Pond as he was interviewed for the Valdez Fishing Report radio program. While Hutchinson was being interviewed he also provided a vivid account of his Mom’s reaction to the fish. “When I caught that fish, she couldn’t believe her eyes”, said Hutchinson. “She thought that she was seeing things”.
Patricia Johnson of California is still in the lead for the Valdez Halibut Derby with the 385.8 pound halibut she caught July 26th. Doug Cranor is currently in 2nd place with the 239 pound halibut he caught June 23rd and Russell Young of Fairbanks is holding onto 3rd place with the 226 pound halibut he caught June 23rd.
Both the Valdez Halibut and Silver Salmon derbies will end at noon on Sunday, September 2nd. Last year’s winning halibut was a record-breaking 374.0 pound flatfish caught by Frieda Wiley of Valdez.
The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby began in 1971. The smallest winner on record is Jim Burzinski’s 15.11 pound silver caught the first year of the derbies in 1971. In the last 20 years, winners have been in the 17 to 22 pound range.
Silver salmon fishing has been productive at Gold Creek and Mineral Creek. The last two weeks of the derby should be good fishing from shore as well as from a boat. The raffle for $10,000 cash will be held on Sunday after the close of the derby. Everyone who purchased a Valdez derby ticket will be entered in that drawing. Silver and Halibut Derby winners will be awarded and the drawing will be held at the Derby Awards party Sunday, September 2nd at 6pm at the Elks Lodge.
Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders
1st Patricia Johnson Clovis, CA 285.8 lbs. July 26 Harvester
2nd Doug Cranor Valdez, AK 239.0 lbs. June 23Redhead
3rd Russell Young Fairbanks, AK 226.0 lbs. June 23Dan Orion
Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners
1stLarry Goble Greely, PA 154.2 lbs. Aug 17 Nunatuk
2nd Bill Bolinske Nampa, ID 131.2 lbs. Aug 16 Nunatuk
Silver Derby – Overall Leaders
1st Aksel Hutchinson Valdez, AK 17.28 lbs. Aug 11 Amanda Rose
2nd Daniel Schneider Anchorage, AK 16.64 lbs. Aug 4 Sea Duck
3rd Leslie West Provo, UT 16.48 lbs. Aug 11 Sea Ducks