Mat-Su angler wins Ford truck, chooses the money

A new Stanley Ford pickup or cash? It was a tough choice for Monique Peters, a Mat-Su angler who caught a 14-pound halibut July 4 that was wearing a Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby tag.

In the end, Peters chose the cash, totaling $22,500.

“She said if this had happened a year ago, she could have used the truck, so could she please take the money,” said Jim Lavrakas, executive director of the Homer Chamber Commerce and Visitor Center, organizer of the derby. “The value of the truck was $30,000. The $7,500 that came out was for the IRS gaming taxes which we’re required to withhold.”

In Homer Sept. 20 to learn the value of her tag, Peters said, “This is amazing. I don’t even know what to think about it. I’ve got to call my husband and find out what he thinks.”

 The big-fish prize, as well as prizes for the other 28 tagged halibut caught during the derby were announced after the derby ended Sept. 15.

Peters and her husband, Jarod, who live near Willow, were fishing with their friend Joe Spaulding of Wasilla, on Spaulding’s boat, the Ruby Louise, when Peters hooked the tagged halibut.

Courtney Stanley, representing Stanley Ford, was on hand for the announcement.

“We’re really proud to be part of the sponsorship and look forward to many more continued years of supporting this derby,” said Stanley. “It a true blessing to be part of such a great community.”

Lavrakas took advantage of the gathering for Friday’s announcement to show what a tag looked like, using one from a halibut caught this summer. 

“That angler did not have a derby ticket,” said Lavrakas, of the tag that turned out to be worth the $50,000 cash prize sponsored by GCI. “The simple lesson: Buy a derby ticket.” 

A total 15,042 tickets were told in this year’s derby. “It was a resounding success,” said Lavrakas.

Iowa angler Gene Jones’ 236.2-pound halibut was the largest halibut in this year’s derby. Jones caught it July 25 while fishing with Capt. David Bayes of Central Charters. Jones’ jackpot prize totaled more than $20,000.

Kathy Rider of Central Charters was on hand at the Friday announcement, accepting Bayes’ check of $1,000 for the captain of the winning boat. Rider also received a $1,000 check for selling the derby ticket to Jones. 

The other derby winners announced Friday included

• $5,000 Just for the Halibut prize: Kelsey Adams of Grass Lake, Mich.;

• $500 kids’ prize: Scout Pomeroy of Custer, Wash.’

• $400 kids’ prize: Jamin Vanorder of Burlington, Vt.;

• $300 kids’ prize: Justin Hornaday of Libertyville, Ill.

• $200 kids’ prize: Will Maier of Boulder, Colo.;

• $160 kids’ prize: Madeline Hawk of Honolulu, Hawaii.

In addition to thanking the 150 derby sponsors, Lavrakas also recognized the behind-the-scenes work of Janet Higley, as well as Derby Coordinator Paula Frisinger, “the queen of our derby” who makes it run like a well-oiled machine,” said Lavrakas.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at