Fairbanks woman's halibut nets derby prize of $40,610
By McKibben Jackinsky
Jamie Olvera of Fairbanks, right, poses with the 277.6-pound halibut caught Aug. 28 on North Country Halibut Charters with Capt. Ben Martin, left, aboard the Fringe Benefit. Olvera is the winner of the 2010 Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby.
At the stroke of 9 p.m. today, Jamie Olvera, 25, of Fairbanks was the official winner of the 2010 Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby. With a total of 16,244 tickets sold since the derby began May 1, Olvera's grand prize comes to $40,610.
"I'm in shock. I don't even know what to say," said Olvera.
The winning 277.6-pound halibut was caught Aug. 28 while Olvera and her husband, John, were fishing with North Country Halibut Charters Capt. Ben Martin aboard the Fringe Benefit.
"Tell (Martin), 'thanks.' He's the best," said Olvera.
Judging by the decrease in fishing over the past two weeks and the less-than-perfect weather Homer has experienced lately, Martin had a hunch Olvera would take the prize. That didn't lessen his excitement to learn Olvera had maintained the derby lead, however.
"I'm pretty excited and going to be out celebrating tonight," said Martin.
This has been a good year for the derby's lady anglers, said Paula Frisinger, coordinator of the annual event sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce.
"There were a lot of women that participated in the derby this year and it's shown," said Frisinger.
Lori Jarvis of Eagle River was another top-dollar winner. Jarvis snagged a halibut with a tag on it worth $10,000 while she was fishing Sept. 6 with Nautilus Charters Capt. Lloyd Gailey aboard the Knot Yet. The tag was sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank.
"I'm really tickled because the gals this year really came through," said Frisinger. "(Olvera's) our third woman to win the derby and probably our youngest."
The derby awards will be presented at the Bidarka Best Western Oct. 9. Olvera, who serves with the Alaska National Guard 297th Military Police Company out of Wasilla and did a tour in Iraq in 2004-2005, is hoping to be present when the checks are handed out.
"She's certainly going to try," Frisinger said of Olvera's plans to travel from her home in Fairbanks to Homer that weekend.
Olvera's halibut wasn't the biggest one caught in the Homer area between the time the derby began May 1 and ended today. In fact, just four days before she landed her 277.6-pound monster, John Tucholski of Seven Hills, Ohio, hooked a 91-inch whopper while fishing with Poi Boy Fishing and Wilderness Lodge Capt. Ken Haina aboard the Last Laugh. According to one chart, a 91-inch halibut was estimated to weigh 420 pounds.
The night before Tucholski went fishing, Haina said he reminded him to buy one of the $10 derby tickets. That little detail slipped Tucholski's mind, however, and with it any dream of winning the derby.
"Had some other guys bought derby tickets, (Olvera) wouldn't be there," said Frisinger of the board bearing the names of winning derby fisherman. "She bought a ticket."
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.