Story last updated at 12:26 p.m. Friday, September 6, 2002

Big fish nets Derby winner $46,000
Labor Day is a day that often brings a certain measure of envy to commercial fishermen around the Homer area as some lucky angler receives a hefty payout for a single big flat fish.

And so it was that after all the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby numbers were crunched late Monday night, a 347-pound halibut stands to earn Eagle River resident Clayton McDowell somewhere around $132 a pound for a total payout of at least $46,000.

With commercially caught halibut getting around $2.75 a pound on the local docks, McDowell's winnings are enough to make the saltiest of dogs go a little green around the edges.

The huge jackpot prize, which is awarded to the angler with the summer's biggest derby halibut, is the largest individual payout in the 17-year history of the Homer Chamber of Commerce-sponsored derby.

In addition to McDowell's prize money, skipper Glain Cook of Homer Ocean Charters won $3,000 for his part in hauling in the lunker.

"That's not too bad," Cook said of the derby win for his boat The Sourdough.

Cook said that when McDowell hooked the gargantuan fish, there were several fishermen with fish on their lines as well, resulting in some mayhem on the back deck of his 50-foot Delta.

"There was a chance that it was a skate," Cook said. "But I told him to play it like it was a big halibut. And it was a beautiful fish."