May 22, 2013 | Val. 25 Edition 21

Halibut derby opens with 97-pound leader

Snow crowded yards don’t stop anglers from dropping a line

So, the miles and piles of snow lingering in town might not realize the calendar says it’s spring, but anglers in the Valdez Halibut Derby do. Justin Hoppe of Valdez is one such man; he hit Prince William Sound on board the charter boat Dan Orion and returned with a 97 pound halibut last Sunday to take an early lead in the derby. Shawn Shipman of Whitehorse was also aboard the Dan Orion and she picked up a 70.4 pounder.

Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies
Justin Hoppe of Valdez reeled in this 97 pound halibut Sunday from the Dan Orion.

Hoppe and Shipman are now leading the derby and are in line to win the weekly first and second place prizes in the Halibut Derby. That’s if their fish stay atop the leader-board until the derby week closes Saturday.

Greg Davis of Westminster, Colorado weighed in the first halibut in the Valdez Derbies on Saturday.

“He was visiting from Colorado and really excited about his fish”, said Bonnie Woods, weight-in coordinator for the derby.

Word from the harbor says that charter captains in Valdez are preparing for a busy season as anglers are lining up with high hopes of winning the derby’s $15,000 first place prize. A ticket costs $10 for the day or $50 for the season and must be purchased before heading out on the water. The limit for halibut in Prince William Sound is still two per person and weigh-in for the derby is open 3-8 p.m. at the derby shack, kitty-corner from the harbormaster office.

Ticket holders with the three largest fish with win the grand prize of $15,000, second place prize of $5,000 and $2,000 for third; there are also three weekly winners.

The derby will also award a 4x4 F-150 truck at season’s end to one lucky ticket holder. Every $10 spent on a ticket is an entry to win the truck – even if you never catch a fish. A season ticket gives its holder five entries.

The Halibut Hullaballoo runs June14-23 and the angler catching the largest halibut during that time period will win $1,000 cash. That is in addition to the weekly prizes and any overall prizes they might win.

The Silver Salmon Derby has the same prizes as the halibut derby, including a chance to win the truck. It begins July 20; the highly popular women’s derby is slated for Saturday, August 10. The ever-growing Kids Pink Salmon Derby is set for July 20.

There is also a $500 prize for the vendor and operator selling the winning derby ticket in both derbies.

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