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

By Valdez Fish Derbies
For the Star 

Thousands awarded at derby season end

Big fish and big prizes marked great summer fishing in Valdez


Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

James Culley of Fairbanks shows off his $15,000 flatfish, which indeed took first prize as the largest of the end of the Valdez Halibut Derby season, which ended noon, Sunday.

After an exciting week in the Valdez Silver Derby, it was Michael Freerksen of Valdez who took home top honors and the $15,000 first place prize last Sunday with the 16.92 pound silver he caught Friday aboard the Crista June. Catching his fish on Friday also netted Freerksen the top spot in the Big Prize Friday competition. Freerksen’s fish just edged out the salmon caught by former leader Vernon Carlson of Fairbanks, who came in second place and won $5,000 with the 16.72 pound fish he caught August 21 aboard the “Tango.” Stacey Mitchell, also of Valdez, took home $2,000 cash, taking place with the 16.58 pounder she caught aboard the “Fog Ducker.”

The silver salmon run in Port Valdez was strong throughout the short season. Anglers couldn’t seem to miss with silvers distributed throughout the Sound in large numbers. Fishing from shore at Allison Point was especially good in the last weeks of the derby.

Pat Olson fillets fish down at the Valdez Harbor and he said there was no comparison between the number of fish he filleted in 2013 versus last year.

“I only did 1,174 in the whole of last year, and for this year’s women’s derby I did a thousand fish,” he said. “In the one day.”

In the halibut derby, James Cully of Fairbanks took home $15,000 for the 325 pound flatfish he reeled up from aboard the “Dan Orion” last July. Jeff Johnson of North Pole hauled up a 208.6 pounder aboard the Center Shot on June 29, netting him the $5,000 and second place prize. Beth Reagin of Fairbanks reeled in the $2,000 for third place after pulling up a 178.8 pounder aboard the “Halibut Grove” July 25.

Not a bad haul for spending a great day fishing.

Sunday evening during the awards ceremony, everyone who purchased a derby ticket had a chance to win a truck, but when the ticket was drawn, it was Lesley Rogers of Valdez who drove home the prize - the 2013 Gem Green Ford F-150 4x4.

The $500 cash prize for the charter captain taking out the winning halibut angler went to Dave Wiley of the “Dan Orion.” Wiley also won the $500 prize for selling the ticket to James Culley. Michael Freerksen drove his own boat on Friday, so he won $500 for being the winning captain. Adam MacDonald of the Prospector won the $500 ticket-seller prize for selling the winning ticket to Freerksen.

While the derby season is over in Valdez, there are still plenty of fish in the sea.

Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

Valdez man Michael Freerksen walked away with a cool $15,000 Sunday for catching this silver salmon August 30, which was the largest weighed in during the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby.

The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game says “Valdez anglers anxious for early bright, feisty silvers should try Anderson Bay, Shoup Bay, and Gold or Mineral creeks. Silver salmon anglers can also try the mouths of Galena and Jack bays, Pt. Freemantle, Busby Island, and the Anderson waterfall.”

Allison Point is still active for silver fishing.

As many Alaska anglers are putting up their tackle for the coming winter and visitors are create a run of their own as they head up the highway to their home ports, derby officials are already gearing up for next year,

May 17, 2014 will mark the beginning of the Valdez Halibut Derby, with the Silver Salmon Derby slated to begin July 19. Both will end August 31, 2014.

More information can be found at


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