Homer Alaska - Outdoors

Story last updated at 2:10 PM on Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Halibut derby action heats up

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

Within hours of each other, three monster halibut were reeled in by anglers in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby.

First, Pam Hanshaw of Homer shook things up by catching not just one, but two halibut that shoved the scales above 200 pounds. On July 25, while fishing with her husband, Chuck, Hanshaw turned in a 225-pound barndoor and a second one weighing 230.2 pounds.

No sooner had Hanshaw assumed the lead in the derby, sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, when Carol Allis of Phoenix, Ariz., shot to the front by catching a 300-pound halibut while fishing with Capt. Willie Beach of Reel Fun Charters aboard the Daze Off.

As Paula Frisinger, the derby coordinator said, "Are the ladies ever on fishing fire."

In this year's derby, the biggest prize caught between the derby's start and finish — May 15-Sept. 15 — takes home a $10,000 prize.

Another prize among the many possible in this year's derby is $100 for catching a lefty, a halibut with its eyes on the left, rather than the right side of its head. On July 24, that's what angler Ben Uniejewski of Franklin, Tenn., found on the end of his hook while he was fishing with Capt. Ben Martin of North Country Halibut Charters aboard the Fringe Benefit. Considering leftys are rare — approximately one in 20,000 halibut — and a daily derby ticket costs $10, that's not bad for a day's work.

The biggest prizes in this year's derby are in the tagged halibut category, including:

• One worth $50,000;

• One worth a new Ford pickup;

• Five worth $10,000 each;

• 25 worth $1,000 each;

• 45 worth $500 each;

• 23 worth $250 each.

The value of each tag turned in remains a mystery until the derby ends. The following seven anglers have caught tagged halibut, which means 93 are still waiting to be hooked:

• Zak Mays of Eagle River, caught May 27 on a private boat;

• Colin Saltzman of Columa, Mich., caught June 1 while fishing with Capt. Sean Martin of North Country Halibut Charters aboard the Irish;

• Ray Kizer of Palmer, caught June 2 while fishing with Capt. Gary Ault of Inlet Charters aboard the Whistler;

• Brice Vollbrecht of Tenstrike, Minn., caught June 22 while fishing with Capt. Nick Spellitt of Homer Ocean Charters aboard the Diamond Cape;

• Rebecca Lyon of Anchorage, caught July 1 while fishing with Capt. Brett Weaver of Homer Ocean Charters aboard the Bay Explorer;

• Ron Anderson of Winlock, Wash., caught July 13 on a private boat;

• Elizabeth Cupp of Homer, caught July 18 on a private boat.

Names are drawn for three released-fish prizes each month of the derby: $1,000 to an overall monthly winner and $250 each to the senior winner and the veteran-military winner. Five have been reported for the derby's third month. The drawing will be Aug. 16, with the final month's drawing Sept. 16.

Homer has a two halibut limit per day, per person.

Derby tickets are $10 per day or $75 for a 10-day ticket.

They are available at the chamber or many local businesses. To qualify for prizes, anglers must purchase derby tickets prior to fishing.

For more information about the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby, call the chamber and visitor center at 235-7740 or visit www.homerhalibutderby.com.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.