The Kid Is Still In Charge At Valdez Halibut Derby

The following press release is courtesy of Valdez Fish Derbies:


Summer Ruge 12, continues to lead the Valdez Halibut Derby. (VALDEZ FISH DERBIES)

VALDEZ, Alaska – It generally takes a pretty big fish to win $10,000 in the Valdez Halibut Derby, but anglers are winning weekly prizes worth hundreds of dollars with fish weighing in at 120 to 150-pounds. This week, Tim Abney of Hamilton, Montana took home the first place prize for the week with a 145.6-pound halibut he caught June 21 aboard the Alaskan Adenturer. Jason Waller of Fairbanks took second place for the week with a 142.2-pound halibut he caught June 17 aboard the Sentinel.

Jason Waller of Fairbanks with his 142.2-pounder.
A 145.6-pound halibut gave Tim Abney of Hamilton. Montana, a weekly first prize.

For angler Taylor Otness of New Brighton, Minnesota getting on the leader board was a memorable experience even though he didn’t end up winning a prize. Otness said he was fishing out near Seal Rock when a large halibut hit his line. “It was the biggest fish I have ever caught,” said Otness. “It started pulling me to the edge of the boat and I knew it was going to be a good one.” Otness said his fish drew a crowd at the Valdez Harbor and when the derby weigh in scale settled, his fish weighed in at 87.8 pounds. His name was written on the derby leader board and when asked whether he searched the website to look at prizes he might win he said, “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.” Otness was knocked off the leader board within the hour but he said it was a great experience. “It was a blast to know I was number one on the leader board at least for a little bit.” Did he get a picture? You bet he did!

Derby anglers have had a lot of halibut and rockfish to fillet at the Valdez Harbor, but the tables are also full of bright red salmon pulled from the Copper River. The Chitina Personal Use Fishery is currently open through Sunday, June 30. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, more than 105,000 salmon passed the Miles Lake sonar the week of June 17.

Pink salmon are expected to be available by the 4th of July weekend and should be in Port of Valdez for the Annual Kids Pink Salmon Derby. While pinks can likely be caught on July 4 weekend, there’s a Kids Pink Salmon Derby in Valdez Saturday, July 20 when the fish are heavier in the Port. 

Valdez Fish Derbies will be giving away free hats for kids aged 5 to 16 between 6am and 10am Saturday morning, July 20. To enter the Kids Pink Salmon Derby, kids just need to get a hat, take a picture that includes a pink salmon, one child and the hat (either on the kid or the fish!) and upload it to Winners will be chosen at random for one of four $100 cash prizes or one of eight fishing poles. Visit for more information. The Kids Pink Salmon Derby is free and there will be a live radio show on KVAK 93.3FM and 1230AM Saturday, July 20 from 5pm to 6pm to announce the winners. KVAK Kids Broadcasting Camp participants will be emceeing the Kids Derby Radio Show and there will be giveaways exclusively for kids 5 to 16. The big radio prize is 10 pounds of jelly bellies. Information and winners will be posted on

The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby starts July 20, the same day as the Kids Derby, so anglers wanting a great family trip can fish for both pinks and silvers in the same weekend. The Women’s Silver Salmon Derby is slated for August 10 and the theme this year is “Carnival”.

Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders

1st           Summer Ruge                  Fairbanks, AK                   159.4 lbs.           May 27                 Chugach Girl

2nd               Kathy Young                       Fairbanks, AK                   152.8 lbs.           May 26                 Reel Dreams     

3rd           Michael Olson                 North Pole, AK                  151.6 lbs.           June 8                   Big Fish

Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners

1st         Tim Abney                          Hamilton, MT                   145.6 lbs.           June 21                Alaskan Adventurer
2nd          Jason Waller                     Fairbanks, AK                   142.2 lbs.           June 17                 Sentinel