Homer Alaska - Outdoors

Story last updated at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wisconsin man takes lead in halibut derby

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

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

The 176.5-pound lunker, caught by Pruzek while fishing aboard the Tuff Stuff with Capt. Trenton Peck of Bob's Trophy Charters, 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.

"(Pruzek) 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, 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 have 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 information call the chamber, 235-7740, or visit www.homerhalibutderby.com.

Current standings in the derby are:

• First place, $1,000: 176.5-pound halibut caught May 30 by Rick Pruzek of Chippewa Falls, Wis., 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;

Seldovia derby

In other fishing news, Seldovia residents swept last weekend's Seldovia Human Powered Derby. Rowing, kayak- ing and sailing anglers caught lots of fish in Seldovia over the weekend, despite a strong southwest wind driving into Seldovia Bay. Organizer Tim Dillon said 25 rods entered the derby. That number included participants from the upper Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage, but for the first time in its three-year history, no Homer residents.

The grand prize Yankee tender wooden boat, temporarily named the First Class after the college class that made it, was awarded to Seldovia-raised Ryan Geagel, who now teaches in the Mat-Su Valley. Geagel has competed in the derby every year it has run.

Any halibut, salmon, black bass or grey cod qualified an angler for entry into the grand prize drawing.

The prize for the largest salmon went to Jerry Stranik, who caught a 16-pound king from his sail-outfitted double Klepper kayak.

Halibut landings were relatively small, though one whopper dragged Damara Burnett around in her kayak for more than an hour before the hook straightened out. Burnett still won the flatfish category with a 28-pounder.

Most fishers caught at least one cod, and many landed valuable prizes, like sightseeing flights.

Fishing report

King salmon runs increased again on the Anchor River after a dip May 24. Since the fish weir went in May 13, the sonar has counted 557 salmon this season, with 83 on Monday and 69 on Sunday. Anglers report slow to fair fishing. Water conditions are good, with low levels and good clarity.

King salmon have returned to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. Lucky anglers have reported catching kings on a first cast, but generally fishing has been slow. Out in salt water, trolling has been fair off Bluff Point and on the south side of Kachemak Bay.

Good clamming tides of minus 2 feet and lower happen this weekend. Expect many small clams about 3.5 inches long on the Ninilchik beaches. Clam Gulch has good numbers of medium sized clams. For larger clams, try beaches from Deep Creek to Whiskey Gulch.