VALDEZ, Alaska – When 17-year old Lyric Leverenz of Fairbanks got invited to come fishing in Valdez for the Labor Day weekend, she had no idea she would catch a fish big enough to win her $1,500. Shortly after arriving in Valdez, Leverenz said she realized the importance of buying a derby ticket, “So, on Friday I got a 12 pounder and it would have won the daily if I had a derby ticket. So the next day I was just like I might as well get a derby ticket just in case …and I got a big fish,” said Leverenz. She reeled in a 14.72 silver salmon from shore by the new harbor in Valdez and fell just a few ounces short of the Silver Salmon Derby Leader Alisa MacInnes of Tampa, Florida who was leading the derby Saturday with a 14.88 pound silver salmon. Leverenz jumped into 2nd place and remained there through the end of the derby at noon Sunday. Leverenz picked up her check at the Valdez Weigh-In Station on Sunday and said she would use the money to buy parts for her truck. If that truck is running next summer, you can bet it might have another 360 miles on it as Leverenz said she would definitely love to come back to Valdez and do more fishing next year.
Saturday was not just the first time Leverenz had been ocean fishing, it was the first time she had seen the ocean at all. “I’ve never seen the ocean before so that was pretty cool.” From the drive through Thompson Pass to the colors of the ocean and the beauty of the mountains to the unexpected warm temperatures, Leverenz was soaking in the experience. “I was really amazed. It’s gorgeous. The water it just looks different, the colors,” When asked about the experience of winning $1,500 she responded, “That’s just the cherry on the top.” The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby 3rd place winner was John Oliver of Fairbanks with a 14.42 pound silver.
The Valdez Halibut Derby was won by Mickia Cenker of Fairbanks. August 16th, Cenker reeled in a 224 pound halibut August 16th and said she didn’t realize the magnitude of the fish until the Captain told her it was the biggest fish, he had caught in 17 years. Cenker works at the ER in Fairbanks and said she is building a house so her $5,000 derby winnings will likely go toward siding her new house. Jim Rothenbuhler of Salcha, who caught a 201.2 pound halibut June 23rd, took 2nd place and Kenny Tussey of North Pole took 3rd place in the halibut derby with a 193.4 pound fish he caught July 5th.