Valdez Crowns Silver, Halibut Derby Champs

The following is courtesy of Valdez Fish Derbies:

Paul Casey of Shelbyville, Tennessee, held onto win the Valdez Halibut Derby with tis 316.8-pound monster caught on Aug. 20. (VALDEZ FISH DERBIES)

VALDEZ, Alaska – The winners are in! The 1st place prize and $10,000 in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby goes to LaVonne Baysinger of Fairbanks, Alaska with a 14.54-pound silver she caught August 4th. The 2nd place prize, and $3,000, goes to Cord Basnaw of Ione, Washington, with a 12.54-pound silver salmon he caught August 20th and 3rd place went to Craig Hennager of Delta Junction with a 12.44-pound silver he caught August 21st. In the Valdez Halibut Derby Paul Casey of Shelbyville, Tennessee took home $10,000 and 1st place with a 316.8-pound halibut he caught August 20th. Second place and $3,000 went to Jim Jack of Lacey, Washington who reeled in a 252-pound catch and 3rd place, and $1,500 cash, went to Troy Dolge of Copper Center with a 203-pound halibut he caught June 4th

Fairbanks’ LaVonne Baysinger is the Silver Salmon Derby winner after catching a 14.54-pound coho on Aug. 4. (VALDEZ FISH DERBIES)

The largest fish in this year’s Silver Salmon Derby won a $10,000 cash prize, but it was a relatively small fish for the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby. In 2022, Marco Harvan of Tok, Alaska won the 1st place prize with a 14.80-pound silver. In 2021 Penny Skuza of Riverdale, North Dakota caught a 14.50-pound silver and in 2019 Tom Karlsten won $10,000 with a 15.32-pound fish. All nice fish, but when you consider that the smallest fish caught in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby between 1972 and 2016 was 16.03-pounds, derby winners have been small in recent years. Back in 2008 and 2009, the derby winners weighed in at 22.14 pounds and there have been four other derby winners that weighed more than 20-pounds. CLICK HERE to see a list of previous winners.

The Valdez Halibut Derby records go back to 1991 and, prior to this year, there have been eight winning halibut that weighing in at more than 300-pounds. Seven of those three hundred plus fish were caught between 2004 and 2022. CLICK HERE to see a list of previous halibut derby winners.

The grand prize winner in both the halibut and silver salmon derbies wins $10,000 cash and it only matters that the angler had a derby ticket and caught the largest fish for that season. The 2nd place cash prize in both the halibut and silver salmon derbies is $3,000 cash and the 3rd place prize is $1,500 cash. Over the course of the summer, close to 30 weekly winners took home prizes in the Valdez Halibut Derby and more than 40 anglers took home daily Silver Salmon Derby prizes. Valdez Fish Derbies also awarded two anglers $500 for “Big Prize Friday”, awarded Halibut Hullabaloo tournament winner Troy Dolge $1,000, gave away cash and prizes to 12 winners in the Valdez Kids Pink Salmon Derby and crowned Natalie Chamberlain the Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood during the Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby. A list of all the 2023 winners the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby, Halibut Derby, Women’s Derby, Big Prize Friday, and Tagged Fish Contest can be found  

The Valdez Fish Derbies are run by a non-profit committee of seven individuals that live and work in Valdez.  This year’s Derby Coordinator Dana Morales was instrumental in soliciting sponsors, managing weigh-in, handling office derbies and putting on events. Ricky Colapietro was MVP of website updates, and the weigh-in staff and volunteers were amazing. Sponsors came through with support and tremendous prizes for 2023. Valdez Fish Derbies generates funds through ticket sales, sponsorships and event and merchandise sales. Revenues go toward cash prizes, operations and marketing Valdez as a fishing destination.

Valdez Silver Salmon Derby Overall Winners

1st           LaVonne Baysinger          Fairbanks, AK                                     14.54 lbs.            Aug 4                     Fixed Income

2nd          Cord Basnaw                      Ione, WA                                              12.54 lbs.            Aug 20                  Gotta Go

3rd           Craig Hennager                  Delta Junction, AK                            12.44 lbs.            Aug 21                  Reflection

Halibut Derby – Overall Winners

1st           Paul Casey                           Shelbyville, TN                                   316.8 lbs.            Aug 20                  Dawn Treader
Jim Jack                                Lacey, WA                                            252.0 lbs.            July 28                  Sentinel
3rd           Troy Dolge                           Copper Center, AK                            203.0 lbs.            June 4                   Reflection

For more information on the Valdez Derbies, visit: