For the Star 

The one to beat in halibut derby weighed 253 pounds

Fairbanks man reels in a contender early in the Valdez derby season


Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

David Jamison of Fairbanks is leading the Valdez Halibut Derby with this 253 pounder.

David Jamison of Fairbanks is a speech pathologist who said he was anything but speechless when he started reeling in a 253 pound halibut.

That fish, which he caught last week, catapulted him to the lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby - and made for a colorful story.

"We have a video on YouTube of me catching the fish and I was cursing the whole time," Jamison said.

He said the day started slow and the anglers were catching rockfish and just about to move to another spot when the big one hit his line.

"It took a while to pull up," Jamison said "It was fun. Chris (boat captain) was the only one cheering me on. Everyone else in the boat was telling me it was a skate."

Jamison said he didn't realize how big the prize was in the Halibut Derby until he got back to port. He said he purchased the derby ticket because you never know if you're going to pull in a big one. When asked what he would do with the $15,000 grand prize if he held on through the end of the Halibut Derby September 4, he said he would probably come back to Valdez to do more fishing.

Jamison caught his fish May 29 aboard the Nanatuk. He won the weekly first place prize for his efforts and will be watching the standings for the next few months.

Andrew Towne of Anchorage is holding onto second place in the overall standings and as well as the second place weekly prize. He caught a 133.4 pound halibut May 31 from aboard the "Amanda Rose."

Currently in third place overall is David Sears of Fairbanks with a 121.8 pound flatfish he caught May 29 from aboard the "Harvester."

If history repeats itself, the Valdez Halibut Derby weigh-in station should busy the next two weekends for the Valdez Halibut Hullabaloo.

This is a 10-day tournament that runs during the regular derby. The person catching the largest fish between June 10 and June 19 will take home $1,000, in addition to regular derby prizes. There is no additional ticket or registration for this tournament. Anyone fishing with a regular daily or season ticket during the Halibut Hullabaloo is eligible for the bonus prize of $1,000.

With the pink salmon season just around the corner, organizers are gearing up for the Kids Pink Salmon Derby. The pinks generally start running late June and by the first week in July, fish will start to settle in around Allison Point. The Kids Pink Salmon Derby is Saturday, July 23. The Kids Derby is free and the first 200 kids to weigh in a fish get a free t-shirt.

The top three fish in four different age divisions will win a prize. There's a free family BBQ at the end of the Derby. More information on the Kids Derby, Women's Silver Salmon Derby and other derby activities and events can be found at


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