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

By Valdez Fish Derbies
For the Star 

Silver salmon derby wide open during the last two weeks of season

Halibut anglers face tough challenge to beat current 374 pound leading fish


August 24, 2017

Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

Brett Fickler of Omaha, Nebraska and his third-place overall catch - so far.

With less than two weeks left in the Valdez Halibut and Silver Salmon Derbies, only time will tell if the leaders will hold on to win the $15,000 first place prize.

Frieda Wiley caught a 374.0 pound halibut August 6 and stands a good chance of holding onto the lead. Her fish is the largest halibut on record in the Valdez Halibut Derby. If you look at the record books, Tim Stadtmiller's 266.6 pound halibut would be a first place winner in previous years. Stadtmiller caught a 266.6 pound halibut June 19 aboard the "Dan Orion." The angler in third-place overall last week was Grant Stultz of Reston, Virginia. His fish was bested by Brett Fickler of Omaha, Nebraska on August 18. Fickler reeled in a 197.4 pound halibut aboard the "Lena Claire."

Both derbies end at noon Sunday, September 3.

While it looks like the halibut derby is a lock for Wiley, the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby is far from over. This derby began in 1971 and since then only eight fish weighing less than 16.96 have been winners. The smallest winner on record is Jim Burzinski's 15.11 pound silver caught the first year of the derbies in 1971. In the last 20 years, winners have been in the 17 to 22 pound range. The current overall leader is Cole Baxter of Fayetteville, Georgia with a 15.62 pound silver salmon caught on July 26 with Shark Tooth Charters. Chinda Heston, the 2017 Women's Derby winner, is holding onto second place with the 14.88 pounder she caught August 12 and Mike Zanazzo got into the overall standings in third place with a 14.60 pound silver salmon he caught August 16.

Larger silver salmon have been caught in Valdez according to Valdez Fish Derbies Weigh-In Coordinator Dana Morales, but they didn't have a derby ticket.

Silver salmon fishing has been productive at Galena Bay, Sawmill Bay, Shoup Bay and the Narrows. Anglers are already catching fish from Allison Point and the City Dock.

"The run doesn't seem to be bunched up this year," Joe Prax said. "That means the last two weeks of the derby should be good fishing from shore as well as from a boat."

The raffle for $10,000 cash will be held at the end of the derby. Everyone who purchased a Valdez derby ticket will be entered in that drawing. An award ceremony will be held that night at 6 p.m. at the Elks Lodge.


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