Story last updated at 2:44 p.m. Friday, July 5, 2002

Word to the wise: don't forget that ticket
Casting about
The word around town is that halibut fishing is heating up. Unfortunately, some folks still refuse to break down and spend that $10 for a Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby ticket. It's uncanny how the big fish apparently have some way of figuring out who has a ticket and who doesn't, because the reports of ticketless anglers landing monster fish continue to swim in.

According to derby coordinator Linda Winters of the Homer Chamber of Commerce, the story is the same every year.

"People figure they won't catch the big one, so they don't buy a ticket," Winters said. "They are always the ones who haul in the big fish and end up kicking themselves later for not getting one."

This year's version of the story involved Aurora Sport Fishing and an angler on Captain Mark Millspaugh's Northern Lights. The fisherman reeled in a 346-pounder, but had no ticket.

"They went ahead and brought it to derby headquarters to get it weighed," Winters said. "With our current leader at 306 pounds, it easily would have taken over

first place."

With June results final, James Mato of Marco Island, Fla., took the month's top spot and $1,000 for his 273.8-pound fish caught with Silver Fox Charters. Twelve-year-old Ross Effinger from Eagle River pulled in the last big fish in June, and took third place with his 245-pounder. The big fish earned him $500 and some great memories, as this was his first-ever halibut fishing trip.

Ruth Armstrong of Eagle River continues to hang on as the derby's overall leader with her 306.4-pound monster caught with Sockeye Charters and Captain Tom Hagberg.

Norm Anderson of Norm's Saltwater Adventures also seems more than a little pleased with his success out on the water.

"It's been a real good season so far," Anderson said. "Last week we had a big stage of some really good tides moving out there, and we pulled in more than 20 halibut over 100 pounds."

Anderson said he always counts on the big sets of tides to produce well, but that he is encouraged by the fish he has seen this year.

"Three days ago we pulled in four halibut over 100 pounds, and two 40-pound kings," Anderson said Tuesday. "And we're not spending all day out there fishing for them."

In fact, Anderson appears to be making pretty short work of it.

"I took three ladies from Minnesota out last week, and they reeled in six halibut over 100 pounds in less than an hour and a half," he said. "The youngest dropped her line out first, and pulled in a 175-pounder. It was the first halibut she had ever caught and it was the biggest of the day."

The Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby continues through Labor Day, Sept. 2.