The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Halibut Derby still looking for the big one

Woods weighs in 179 pounder, but still out fishing


It should be no surprise that Valdez woman Bonnie Woods took the lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby last week after she hauled in a nice 179.2 pounder.

“Hopefully it’s just the first one,” Woods said after her June 16 fish charter on the Dan Orion, “I caught a 102 pounder earlier” on the same trip.

Woods has been on the prowl for that elusive first place winner for the season for many years – and has often come close.

“I’ve placed third twice,” she said, “My last big one was 2007.”

Her third place flatfish weighed an impressive 274.5 pounds – but the derby weighed in two others that were over three hundred pounds that year.

Woods said she is certain her catch from last week will not remain in the season’s top three for long – especially since she is going out on a birthday charter this coming Monday and looking to bump herself off the leader board.

When asked if she had any advice, Woods responded, “Just go out on a halibut charter and get your derby ticket before you go.”

The halibut brought in by Woods was not the only large flatfish to reach the Valdez Docks. The Halibut Grove returned to Port Valdez with a limit of large fish Saturday night.

“It has been pretty good fishing lately,” Captain Seth Grove said. “And when the weather is not good in town, sometimes it’s great out there.”

Despite weather forecasts, Valdez breezed through the weekend with sunny skies and just a spot of rain in the evenings.

With Wood’s catch at the top of the leaderboard, Steven Adams of Valdez dropped to second place with the 136.1 pounder he caught May 23 and Benjamin Davis of Fairbanks moves to third place with the 127.1 pound halibut he caught May 26.

In addition to being in the lead to win the $15,000 first place prize in the regular halibut derby, Woods won Week 4 and will take home the weekly first place prize. She is also currently leading the “Halibut Hullabaloo.” This 10-day halibut tournament runs June 15-24. There is no additional fee to pay. The person catching the largest halibut during that period will pick up $1,000 cash in addition to the regular prizes.

Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

Bonnie Woods of Valdez shows off her 179.2 pound catch that made her the leader in the halibut derby as of early this week.

Jared Kassulke of Fort Wainwright, Alaska won second place for the week with a 110.8 pound halibut he caught aboard the Dawn Treader.

The pink salmon should be returning to Port Valdez in a couple weeks and plans are underway for the Valdez Kids Pink Salmon Derby. The Kids Derby is held at the peak of the run. This year, the event will take place Saturday, July 14. The Kids Derby is free and the first 300 kids to weigh in a fish will get a free t-shirt. The top three fish in four different age divisions will win prizes. There’s a free family BBQ at the end of the Kids Derby and additional competition and prizes for Boy Scouts. The Annual Valdez Women’s Derby is slated for Saturday, August 11, with an opening ceremony Friday, August 10, and the closing ceremony Saturday night. The theme for the Women’s Derby this year is “Retro,” featuring styles and fun from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.


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