Two anglers in the last week found themselves pulling giant halibut out of the ocean without a derby ticket to their names.
David Pudlosky of Mountain Top, PA, caught a 246-pound halibut on July 25 while fishing with Captain Heath Harrington from Inlet Charters on the Dutch Treat. Pudlosky, 68, said the fish is the biggest one he has caught in his entire life.
“It was hard getting it on the boat after we got it. I had to harpoon it and then shoot it with a .410 shotgun,” Pudlosky said.
He was fishing with two other friends, with whom he is splitting the filets from the huge catch. As for the derby ticket he didn’t have?
“I didn’t even think about it,” Pudlosky said. “I never dreamed I’d catch something that big.”
Patrick Schemp of Kössnach, Bavaria, Germany also joined the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby’s Wall of Shame after catching a 348.6-pound halibut, with no derby ticket. Scheup reeled in the behemoth of a fish while fishing with Capt. Chris Andrews on the Nautilus II of Alaska Coastal Marine on July 21.
Schemp, 23, is visiting the Kenai Peninsula on his first trip to Alaska. While he fishes regularly in Germany and other places around the world, this catch is a memorable one for him. In addition to the filets, Schemp said he shipped the mouth and tail of the fish back home to mount as a trophy.
“The surprise was very big. Everybody on board was very happy. It was a beautiful moment,” Schemp said. “It was the fish of my life.”
Schemp did not buy a derby ticket because he did not think he would catch a big fish, he said.
Kim McCallum of San Antonio, TX caught a 149.9-pound halibut on July 26 while fishing with O’Fish’ial Charters and Capt. John Osteen. McCallum’s fish weighs 17.3 pounds less than the current derby leader, so she is not in the running for the Jackpot leader.
Gayle Muggli of Miles City, MT, still holds the lead derby position with the 167.2-pound halibut she caught on July 8.
The Homer Chamber of Commerce and charter captains to do not condone keeping large fish if the fish is not a contender for the Jackpot or the angler does not possess a Derby ticket, said HCOC excecutive director Karen Zak.
The chamber offers an end-of-season released fish prize drawing for $1,000 to encourage anglers to release fish over 48 inches. Anglers with derby tickets can enter the catch-and-release drawing by bringing a photo of the fish and a witness to the release to the Jackpot Halibut Derby office on the Spit, said Zak.
Keri Phillips of Newcastle, WY caught a 2013 tagged fish while fishing with Capt. Billy Hayden on the Bay Explorer with Homer Ocean Charters on July 22. Tagged fish from previous years are worth $100.
The chamber reports paying out a total of $2,350 in prizes as of July 27 to anglers who caught tagged fish from previous and current derby years. Over 100 fish are tagged for the derby each year, Zak said.
Anna Frost can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.