Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 2:28 PM on Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New fish takes the lead in halibut derby

Week also sees first tagged, lefty fish caught

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photo provided

RIck Pruzek, right, of Chippewa Falls, Wisc., moves into first place in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby with a 176.5-pound halibut he caught Monday afternoon while tolling for salmon with Capt. Trenton Peck, left, of Bob's Trophy Charters, aboard the Tuff Stuff. The derby continues through Sept. 30.


Photo provided

Tim Kelly, left, of Chugiak displays the halibut he caught May 28 that was wearing a tag worth $500 and was sponsored by Ocean View RV Park. With Kelly is Geri Barling of Ocean View RV Park.


The Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby's first lefty Đ╩a halibut with eyes on the left side of its body Đ was caught May 29 by Patrick Campbell, right, of Modesto, Calif., while fishing with Bob's Trophy Charters, Capt. Trenton Peck, left, aboard the Tuff Stuff.

An afternoon of trolling for salmon turned into a great day of halibut fishing Monday for Rick Pruzek of Chippewa Falls, Wisc.

The 176.5-pound lunker, caught by Pruzek while fishing with Capt. Trenton Peck of Bob's Trophy Charters aboard the Tuff Stuff, caused some end-of-the-month shuffling for prizes and has Pruzek sitting in first place for the time being in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby.

The six anglers aboard the Tuff Stuff were fishing off the high bluff area in about 40 feet of water when a sudden strike "really kicked up the rod," said Peck.

The fish surfaced quickly and, at first glance, appeared to be in the 35- to 40-pound range.

"Then it took off, dove down to the bottom and (Pruzek) fought him for about 40 minutes," said Peck.

Not wanting to tax the rod beyond what it could withstand, Pruzek reeled while others, including Peck's deckhand Joe Gans, offered assistance.

"He was lifting (the rod) and we were trying to make sure the line stayed right," said Peck. "Little by little, he was able to get it up. There were some very tense moments."

When the fish was about 10 feet below the surface, earlier weight estimates shot up to the 200-pound neighborhood.

"We instantly ran home because that ended our salmon trip right there," said Peck.

Earlier in the day, Peck said he heard Pruzek encouraging a friend that was accompanying him to be sure and buy a $10 one-day derby ticket.

"His buddy argued with him not to, that we were just going salmon fishing and probably not going to get a halibut," said Peck.

The first tagged fish of the derby also has been reported by Paula Frisinger, derby coordinator. On May 28, Tim Kelly of Chugiak hooked into a halibut sporting a tag worth $500 and sponsored by Ocean View RV Park. Kelly was fishing with Capt. John Hebert aboard the Siearra Hotel, a private boat.

In the spring, prior to the May 1 beginning of the derby, 100 halibut were caught, tagged and released. Five of the tags are worth $10,000; 95 bear tags worth either $500 of $1,000. Anyone with a derby ticket who is lucky enough to hook into a fish with a 2011 tag needs to bring the halibut with the tag intact and their derby ticket to the weigh-in station on the Spit.

The first lefty — a halibut with eyes on the left side of its body — also was caught this week. Patrick Campbell of Modesto, Calif., reeled in the fish May 29 while fishing with Bob's Trophy Charters, Capt. Peck aboard the Tuff Stuff. The halibut is worth $100.

Derby tickets are $10 per day or $75 for 10 days. They can be purchased at the Homer Chamber of Commerce and many local businesses.

"No ticket, no prize," reminded Frisinger.

Homer has a two halibut per day, per person limit. The derby continues through Sept. 30. For more information call the chamber, 235-7740, or visit www.homerhalibutderby.com.

Current standings in the 2011 Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby are:

• First place, $1,000: 176.5-pound halibut caught May 30 by Rick Pruzek of Chippewa Falls, Wisc., while fishing with Bob's Trophy Charters, Capt. Trenton Peck aboard the Tuff Stuff;

• Second place, $750: 138.2-pound halibut caught May 8 by Dixie Lee Micke of Terra Bella, Calif., while fishing with Capt. Chuck Hanshaw aboard a private boat, the Real Fun Sr.;

• Third place, $500: 122.6-pound halibut caught May 21 by Chuck Ylijoki of Melbourne, Fla., while fishing with Captain Scott's Sportfishing, Capt. Scott Glosser aboard the Mako;

• Fourth place, $250: 120.8-pound halibut caught May 2 by Shane Brooks of Homer while fishing with Capt. Josh Brooks aboard a private boat, the Huntress.

• Lady Angler: Micke;

• Tagged fish: 1;

• Released fish: 5.