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

For the Star 

Rain and more rain did not dampen the action for women's derby

Valdez woman wins and takes second place overall as season nears its end


August 16, 2017

When Chinda Heston of Valdez hooked into a 14.88 pound silver salmon she told everyone on the boat they were heading right back to Port to weigh-in for the Valdez Women's Silver Salmon Derby.

Close to 600 women registered for the 2017 event, and they cheered Heston Saturday night at the Valdez Civic Center as she was crowned "Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood."

Heston said everyone on her boat caught several fish, but when she hooked into her big fish she told them, "Get back to the harbor now."

Heston, who is from Thailand and now lives in Valdez, said she caught her fish near the waterfalls by the narrows and they were fishing at a depth of about 50 feet. Heston said this is the biggest fish she has ever caught and it gave her a good fight for a solid 10 minutes before she brought it on board.

In total, five hundred ninety-five women registered for the derby. The Women's Derby awards prizes for the top 50 fish.

The fact that fish were plentiful by the Valdez narrows is good news for the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby. The run of silver salmon into Port Valdez was disappointing last year, but it is looking good for the 2017 season.

"There are a lot of fish out there and they are beautiful fish," Rick Ballow commented as he waited with his wife and her friends to weigh-in fish Saturday. "I understand they caught really big silver out at Naked Island. I think we're going to have a 20 pound winner this year."

With silver salmon already showing up at the narrows, the fishing should be good from shore at Allison Point and in Port Valdez the final weeks of the derby. Most of those trolling Saturday had success at depths between 40 and 70 feet. Hot spots this weekend were Potato Point, Jacks Bay, Galena Bay and the Narrows.

Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

Chinda Heston of Valdez - Queen of the Sliver Salmon Sisterhood.

Frieda Wiley is still leading the Valdez Halibut Derby with the 374 pound halibut she caught August 6. Her fish set a new record as the largest fish ever caught in the derby. Her catch last week moved Tim Stadtmiller of Fairbanks down to second place overall in the derby with the 266.6 pound halibut he caught June 19. Grant Stultz from Reston, Virginia caught a 182.2 pound halibut August 8 to get into the overall standings at third place.

Both the halibut and silver salmon derbies boast a $15,000 first place prize for the largest fish of the season and both run through noon Sunday, September 3.

More information about the Valdez Derbies can be found at


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