Countdown is on in final days of the fish derbies
Anglers keep lines wet in hopes of hauling in one more big one
With less than two weeks left in the halibut and silver salmon derbies, the current leaders with the largest fish of the season have their fingers crossed.
Fred Hyder reeled in his 253.8 pound halibut on July 10 and it has been on top of the leader board ever since. If you look at the record books, a 253.8 pound halibut is a very plausible winner. The largest halibut on record in Valdez is a 343.6 pound halibut caught by Kevin Lincoln of North Pole, but several winners over the last 20 plus years are in the mid-200 pound range. Last year's winner, a 203.6 pound halibut caught by Scott Hebig, was the smallest winner on record in the Valdez Halibut Derby.
In the silver salmon derby, if the 16.48 pound silver caught by Karen Phillips of Fairbanks holds on to be the first-place winner, the fish would be on the small side. The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby began in 1971 and since then only five fish weighing less than 16.48 have been winners. In fact, the last time a silver salmon winner weighed in at less than 16.48 would be 1983, when Bill Hureaux of Valdez won with a 16.06 pound fish. The smallest winner on record is Jim Burzinski's 15.11 pound silver caught the first year of the derbies in 1971.
In the last 20 years, winners have been in the 17 to 22 pound range.
"I know it won't last," current leader Karen Phillips said, "but it will be five minutes of fun and fame."
Phillips said she had not given any thought to what she would do with $15,000 if she did win - yet.
Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies
Karen Phillips of Fairbanks, was last week's weekly winner in the silver salmon derby with this 16.48 pound beauty she reeled in August 19 from aboard the "Bigfoot."
"I'm sure I'll come up with something," she quipped.
The size of the silvers coming to Port Valdez seems to be increasing each day. Daily winners most of last week were in the 15 pound range. This Friday, anglers will have a chance to win an additional $500 during Big Prize Friday. The person who buys a derby ticket and brings in the biggest silver salmon Friday will win $500 in cash in addition to the daily prizes.
Both derbies end Sunday, September 6 at noon. The raffle for $10,000 cash will be held that day after the close of the derby. Everyone who purchased a Valdez derby ticket this year will be entered in that drawing.
Silver and halibut derby winners will be awarded and the drawing will be held at the derby awards party that Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Elks Lodge.