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

Youngster from Valdez is the one to beat to win first prize in the silver derby

Impressive 285.8-pound halibut still leads the competition to win 10,000 big ones


August 22, 2018

Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

Valdez youngster Aksel Hutchinson, age 8, is currently the top contender to win $10,000 in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby.

An eight-year old is still in the lead - and a contender - to win $10,000.

With less than two weeks left in the Valdez Halibut and Silver Salmon Derbies, only time will tell if Aksel Hutchinson, age 8, will remain the leader of the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby and take home the $10,000 grand prize.

Hutchinson, who hails from Valdez, shot to the top of the silver derby Aug. 11.

Silver salmon are already being caught just off the city docks and at Allison Point, so there will be a lot of opportunities for anglers to catch salmon the last two weeks of the derby.

Although he is only eight, Hutchinson said his Mom told him all about the derbies and he has a plan for the money if he should happen to win.

"I would buy a reel, and some tickets to go to Hawaii and Texas and a scope," he said.

Hutchinson said he named his fish "Grandpa" because it was very old.

Hutchinson is an avid fisherman and eagerly provided tips for fishing Robe Lake and Ruth Pond as he was interviewed for the Valdez Fishing Report radio program. He also provided a vivid account of his Mom's reaction to the fish.

"When I caught that fish, she couldn't believe her eyes," Hutchinson said. "She thought that she was seeing things."

Patricia Johnson of California is still in the lead for the Valdez Halibut Derby with the 285.8-pound halibut she caught July 26. Doug Cranor is currently in second place with the 239 pound halibut he caught June 23, and Russell Young of Fairbanks is holding onto third place with the 226 pound halibut he caught June 23.

Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

Patricia Johnson of Clovis, California still leads the Valdez Halibut Derby with this 285.8-pound halibut she reeled in late July.

Both the Valdez Halibut and Silver Salmon derbies will end at noon on Sunday, September 2. Last year's winning halibut was a record-breaking 374.0 pound flatfish caught by Frieda Wiley of Valdez.

The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby began in 1971. The smallest winner on record is Jim Burzinski's 15.11 pound silver caught in 1971, the first year of the derbies. In the last 20 years, winners have been in the 17 to 22 pound range.

Silver salmon fishing has been productive at Gold Creek and Mineral Creek.

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 on Sunday, after the close of the derby. Everyone who purchased a Valdez derby ticket will be entered in that drawing. Silver and Halibut Derby winners will be awarded and the drawing will be held at the Derby Awards party Sunday, September 2, at 6 p.m. at the Elks Lodge.


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