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

Valdez Fish Derbies 

Beating the big one

A look back to see when winning derby halibut were caught


Photo courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

The winner of the Halibut Hullabaloo tournament - and an extra $1,000 cash - is Edward Wahmann of Tok, with this 126.2-pound halibut caught aboard the "Nunatak."

Christine Ives of Fairbanks is still in the lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby with the 285.6-pound halibut she caught June 6, aboard the "Nunatak." David Stack of Tyler, Texas is still in second place overall with the 158.2-pound halibut he caught on June 6. Stack caught his catch aboard the "Sea Walker." Edward Wahmann of Tok is currently in third place overall with a 126.2-pound halibut caught June 8, aboard the "Nunatak."

There's a good chance, anglers will topple the leaders in second and third place but it is debatable whether anyone will be able to catch a fish larger than Ive's 285.6 pounder.

Here's a look at the weight of the winning fish in the Valdez Halibut Derby the last few years. In 2018, Patricia Johnson of Clovis, California won with a 285.8-pound halibut. In 2017, a 374.0 pound halibut caught by Frieda Wiley was the winner. A 374 pound halibut is much larger than Ives 285.6 pound halibut, but when gauging one's chances it's good to consider that Wiley's catch was the largest fish caught on record in the Valdez Halibut Derby. In 2016, it was David Jamison of Fairbanks taking home the cash prize with a 253.0 pound halibut. In 2015 the grand prizewinner was a 196.2 pound halibut caught by Brad Burch of Clackamus, Oregon. In 2014, Scott Hebig of Wasilla won the big money with a 203.6-pound halibut and in 2013 James Culley took home the big prize with a 325-pound halibut.

When figuring odds, one could also look at when the winning fish have been caught. In 2018, the winning halibut was caught June 26. In 2017, Wiley's record-breaking fish was caught August 6. In 2016 Jamison's 253-pound halibut was caught May 29 and held on to win at the end of the derby.

Although small, the winning fish in 2015 was caught August 26. One never knows when the big fish will strike. The two things for certain are it could happen at any time and you must have a derby ticket when it does.

The weekly winners in the Valdez Halibut Derby were Heather Ropelato of Boise, Idaho. She reeled in a 109.8-pound halibut June 14, aboard the "Red Head." Tallon Littlewood of Wasilla won the second-place weekly prize with a 104.4 pound halibut he caught aboard the "Reflection" on June 10. The winner of the Halibut Hullabaloo tournament - and an extra $1,000 cash - is Edward Wahmann of Tok with a 126.2-pound halibut caught aboard the "Nunatak."

The Valdez Fish Derbies will be hosting the Kids Pink Salmon Derby Saturday, July 20, and the Women's Silver Salmon Derby is slated for August 10, with an opening event Friday, August 9. For more information on the Valdez Derbies, visit:


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