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

By Valdez Fish Derbies
For the Star 

Eight-year old holds on to first place in the final days of Silver Salmon Derby

Fish derbies end this Sunday at noon, and the last Big Prize Friday will pay $500


August 28, 2018

Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

Viva Las Vegas! Don Thomas of that very town was last week's winner of the Valdez Halibut Derby

A Valdez youngster is holding on to first place in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby, while a California woman – and her 285.8-pound catch - is the one to beat in the remaining days of the halibut derby.

Many anglers braved the cold and rain in Valdez to best the 17.28-pound silver caught by eight-year-old Aksel Hutchinson of Valdez, but his fish is still holding onto first place. In fact, it stands a good chance of winning the $10,000 first place prize in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby. The angler taking second place in the derby will win $3,000 and the third-place derby angler will win $1,500. The smallest silver to ever win the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby was Jim Burzinski's 15.11 pound silver caught back in 1971. The largest silver salmon ever caught in the derbies weighed in at 22.14 pounds.

The Valdez Silver Salmon derby is the oldest derby in the state, but records for winners only date back to 1971. The derby was started by the Chamber of Commerce in 1952. Several years back, the late Bill Wyatt, then owner of Bear Paw RV Park and owner of a small hotel in the 50's, recalled the prize for the first derby was $500 and the first winner of the silver derby was Loren St. Amond with an 18.8-pound silver salmon. A history of the Valdez Fish Derbies can be found online.

The lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby is still being led by Patricia Johnson of Clovis, California. Johnson reeled in a 285.8-pound halibut July 26, aboard the Harvester. The first-place prize in the halibut derby is $10,000 cash, the second-place prize is $3,000 and the third-place prize is $1,500. The largest halibut ever caught in the Valdez Halibut Derby is the 374-pound fish caught be Frieda Wiley of Valdez just last year.

The final Big Prize Friday of the season is this Friday, August 31. The angler catching the largest silver salmon this Friday will take home $500 in addition to the daily prizes. The Valdez Fish Derbies, both halibut and salmon, will end this Sunday, September 2.

Weigh-In will close at noon on Sunday, and the derby awards party will be held 6 p.m. that night at the Elks Lodge. Everyone who bought a derby ticket will be entered in a drawing for a $5,000 cash prize and that drawing will be held at the party.


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