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

Valdez boy wins $10,000 in the 2018 Silver Salmon Derby

Eight-year-old has big plans for prize money; California woman wins halibut derby


September 5, 2018

Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

Aksel Hutchinson, age 8 of Valdez, was this year's big winner in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby.

There is a new rich kid in town.

Eight-year-old Aksel Hutchinson won $10,000 Sunday in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby, besting much older, experienced competition.

Just one day after catching a 17.28 pound silver salmon last July, Hutchinson was thinking about what he would do with $10,000. Hutchinson knew the first-place prize was $10,000 and he had big plans if he stayed in the lead. He said he would buy a fishing reel, tickets to Texas and California as well as a hunting scope.

In an interview this Monday, Hutchison had revised his plans for the money to include buying a motorhome, a laser sight dart gun, ATV and possibly a kayak. Whether his money holds out to do all those things is yet to be determined, but it is pretty much a guarantee that Hutchinson is going to keep on fishing. When he talks about fishing he lights up and becomes very animated.

"It's just getting away from all the excitement and loudness and everything," Hutchinson said. "That's what fishing is all about."

Daniel Schneider of Anchorage took second place in the salmon derby with the 16.64-pound coho he caught August 4, aboard the "Sea Duck." Schneider's second-place finish netted him $3,000. Leslie West of Provo, Utah reeled in a 16.48 pound silver salmon on August 11, to win the Women's Silver Salmon Derby and held onto third-place overall. West's finish earned her a $1,500 cash prize.

The final Big Prize Friday was won by Brett Adair of Rosehill, Kansas who reeled in a 14.32-pound silver salmon from the shore on August 31.

Patricia Johnson had never been halibut fishing before coming to Valdez, but that didn't stop the Clovis, California woman from winning the $10,000 first-place prize in the Valdez Halibut Derby.

Johnson is hooked.

"I'm going to be an angler now," she said in a telephonic interview. "This was totally exciting. I will be back here to fish."

Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

California woman Patricia Johnson is the 2018 winner of $10,000 in the Valdez Halibut Derby.

Johnson's winning Halibut was caught aboard the "Harvester" and the captain of that boat, Buddy Scott of Fairbanks, won the $500 Captain's Prize and another $500 for being the ticket seller. In the Silver Salmon Derby, it was Dave Towne that won the Captains Prize. The seller of the winning Silver Salmon Derby ticket was Greg Kern of Fish Central.

In the Valdez Fish Derbies, everyone who purchases a daily ticket is entered to win $5,000 cash at the end of the season. Those purchasing season tickets have five entries in the $5,000 drawing. At the end of the season, all the entries are put into a barrel and a winning ticket is chosen. This year, Kylie Bouchet of Wasilla was the winner.

Next year's dates, as well as pictures and information about the 2017 winners, can be found at


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