VALDEZ – Troy Dolge of Copper Center reeled in a 203-pound halibut and took the lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby back on June 4th and no one has come close to catching him. When Dolge caught his fish, he bumped Erin Cruz, who had caught a 147.2-pound halibut on June 2nd, down to 2nd place. According to Valdez Fish Derbies Weigh-In Coordinator Dana Morales, there was a 150-pound plus halibut brought to the dock, but the angler did not have a derby ticket and couldn’t compete for prizes.
“Friends don’t let friends fish without a derby ticket,” quipped Kristi Baker after getting on the Valdez Halibut Derby leader board with a 122.6-pound halibut she caught last week. Baker said she has been fishing Valdez for 30 years and always gets a derby ticket. “After 10 years of buying derby tickets this is the first time I had to use one! I didn’t know there would be someone waiting for me at the dock.”
Becky Bakken reeled in a 132-pound halibut to jump into 1st place for the weekly prize. When retelling the details of the fight, she shared “I’m not a very big person myself, the fish weighed about the same amount I do!” By the end of the derby week, the weekly 1st place winner was Becky Bakken of Tok with a 132.0-pound halibut. The 2nd place weekly prize went to Kristi Baker of Anchorage with a 122.6-pound halibut.
When going out for halibut, the importance of putting out a chum bag and getting scent in the water was emphasized by Ester Hughes, who deckhands for the charter boat Reflection. In an interview she gave at the harbor last week, she was surrounded by an astounding catch of halibut, rockfish, and happy clients.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game said that king salmon are getting picked up by Cape Cleare and Montague Island for those venturing out further and spending time trolling. ADF&G also reported that Blueberry and Thompson Lakes and Ruth Pond have been stocked. Ruth Pond is an easy access location for kids to catch rainbow trout and Thompson Lake is a good spot to target Arctic grayling with a small-sized fly or spinner. Salmon season is just around the corner. Some pink salmon have been spotted out in the Sound and should be into Valdez well in advance of the Kids Pink Salmon Derby.
Valdez Fish Derbies is hosting a free Kids Pink Salmon Derby Saturday, July 22nd. The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby also starts July 22nd so there will be a few weeks where anglers can catch both pink and silver salmon in Valdez. There will be four grand prizes of $100 cash awarded in the Kids Derby. Eight kids will also win fishing poles. The Kids Pink Salmon Derby is open to kids age 5 to 16 and anglers will enter pictures via the Valdez Fish Derbies website for a chance to win prizes. CLICK HERE for information on the Kids Pink Salmon Derby. The Women’s Silver Salmon Derby is slated for Saturday, August 12th with a Pirate Treasure Hunt Event on Friday, August 11th.
Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders
1st Troy Dolge Copper Center, AK 203.0 lbs. June 4 Reflection
2nd Erin Cruz Wasilla, AK 147.2 lbs. June 2 Arctic Spirit
3rd Becky Bakken Tok, AK 132.0 lbs. June 18 Lena Claire
Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners – June 18th through 24th
1st Becky Bakken Tok, AK 132.0 lbs. June 18 Lena Claire
2nd Kristi Baker Anchorage, AK 122.6 lbs. June 19 Chugach Girl