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

By Valdez Fish Derbies
For the Star 

Big fish still out there in final weeks of derby

Countdown to end of fish derbies about to begin for anglers


Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

Tom Swafford of Fairbanks shows off his 169 pound halibut he caught Saturday aboard the “Magic Dragon.”

Carrie Little John of Fairbanks is still leading the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby despite the fact that hundreds of fish are being weighed in, hoping for a chance to get on the leader board. The daily first and second place winners in the Silver Salmon Derby have been in the 14 and 15 pound range, but no one has broken the 17 pound mark - yet. In fact, it has been more than 20 years since a fish less than 17 pounds took home top honors in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby. That was in 1989. With this year’s bumper crop of silvers and large numbers of anglers bringing in their limit, there is still plenty of time for a bigger fish to hit the scales, but time is running short. The Valdez Halibut Derby and Silver Salmon Derby end at high noon, the Sunday of September 1.

The overall standings in the Valdez Halibut Derby have not changed as of Tuesday afternoon; James Culley is still in line to win the $15,000 first place prize with the 325 pound halibut he caught July 21 aboard the “Dan Orion.” Jeff Johnson of North Pole is still in second place and Beth Reagin of Fairbanks is still holding onto third place with a 178.8 pound halibut she caught July 25, aboard the “Halibut Grove.” Bigger fish have been caught according to the Fish Derbies Weigh-In station, but the anglers did not have a derby ticket. According to Bonnie Woods, the anglers without tickets did not have their halibut weighed officially, but took length measurements that placed their fish weights at 234 and 265 pounds.

The two weekly winners in the halibut derby were Tom Swafford of Fairbanks with the 169 pound halibut he caught aboard the “Magic Dragon” and Dave Wiley’s 161.4 pounder caught aboard the “Dan Orion.”

Ready to do some fishing of your own?

Valdez Star photo

The fishing from Port Valdez is still strong in the final weeks of the season, as evidenced by the number of halibut hanging near the fish cleaning station at the small boat harbor. Lingcod, silver salmon and rockfish catches are also strong according to anglers.

Silver Salmon are thick in the narrows by Middle Rock and are available all the way into Port Valdez. Anglers are trolling with down riggers and cut herring all along the shoreline and a few silver salmon have been picked up at Allison Point. Rockfish angling has been quite productive with small jigs near rocky reefs according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It has also been a great year for Lingcod fishing in Prince William Sound. Anglers are still catching large lingcod near Montague. Large jigs fished 10 feet off the bottom near and on top of steep rocky ridges and reefs work quite well for lingcod.

The Valdez Fish Derbies will have the final Big Prize Friday August 30 and the angler catching the largest silver salmon will take home $500 in addition to the daily prizes. The raffle for the Ford F-150 Truck will be held Sunday, September 1 after the close of the derby. Everyone who has purchased a Valdez derby ticket will be entered in that drawing.

Information, pictures and standings for the Silver Salmon Derby and Halibut Derby can be found at


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