Homer Alaska - Outdoors

Story last updated at 12:33 PM on Wednesday, September 5, 2012

323.2-pound halibut pushes into derby lead

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photo provided

James "Jimmie" Peeples of Chico, Calif. currently leads the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby with a 323.2-pound halibut caught Aug. 31.

With little more than a week remaining before the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby ends Sept. 15, a 323.2-pound halibut has taken the lead in the derby's "biggest fish" category. The muscle behind landing the halibut was James "Jimmie" Peeples of Chico, Calif., who caught it Aug. 31.

Peeples and friends Dan Alexander of California and Larry Williams of Maui were fishing with Peeples' dad, Capt. Phil Peeples aboard a private boat, The Tackle Box.

"We hadn't been out very long that day, but it was about the fifth fishing trip of the week," said Peeples.

The men were fishing near the green buoy known as the "green can" or the "Archy buoy," in 154 feet of water. It was an area that had been pointed out by Mike Size- love of Sky's the Limit, a fishing charter business in Anchor Point.

Judging by the action on his line, Peeples thought he had hooked a four-foot halibut.

"The rod took a three-foot dip every time the halibut shook its head," he said.

That's all it did for about 10 minutes.

"Then, all of a sudden, it came up real easy like it was going to take a look at what was going on," said Peeples.

When the halibut reached the surface, Peeples got a much different picture of what he'd hooked.

"We were all amazed, flipping out," he said. "I couldn't believe it."

One of his friends tried to gaff the fish, but a flop of its head broke a brand new $50 gaff, leaving the men holding just the handle. The halibut distanced itself about 10 feet from the boat and dove for the bottom.

After working the fish back to the surface, Peeples used a gun to subdue it. Then began the struggle to get the fish onboard.

"That was an entire new fight," said Peeples.

The fish's length was measured at 92 inches. Although a weight-length chart estimated its size in the 400-plus pound category, the California angler was far from disappointed to learn its true weight.

"I'm more than happy," he said.

Fortunately, Peeples had taken time to buy a $10 derby ticket prior to leaving the harbor the morning of Aug. 31. If no halibut larger than the one he caught is reeled in before the derby ends Sept. 15, Peeples is in line for the $10,000 prize.

"If I win it, we're going to remake the movie 'Moby Dick,'" he said, laughing.

Phil Peeples said in 2005, his grandson and Jimmie Peeples' nephew, the late Christopher Peeples, 16 years old at the time, landed a 215-pound halibut.

"We entered it in the derby that year and ended up being in 23rd place," said Phil Peeples.

Homer has a two halibut limit per day, per person. Derby tickets are $10 a day, available at the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, 201 Sterling Highway, or from many local businesses.

For more derby information, visit www.homerhalibutderby.com or call 235-7740. For other pictures of Peeples' fish, visit www.facebook.com/TackleBoxChico.

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