Florida angler leads big-fish competition in halibut derby

Some new fish — one pushing the scales to 153.2 pounds and two wearing tags — have heated up the action in this year’s Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby. 

Greg Mendenhall of Port Orange, Fla., landed a 153.2-pound flatfish June 15 while fishing with Capt. Rob Hyslip of Big Bear Halibut Charters aboard the Bear Force I. That pushes Mendenhall to the lead of the derby’s big-fish competition, and places April Saputski of Rathdrum, Idaho, in second. Saputski reeled in a 142.2-pound halibut May 27, while fishing with Capt. Scott Glosser of Captain Scott’s Sport Fishing aboard the Mako.

There also were two tagged halibut landed this past week: one caught June 14 by Chester Kaczanowski of Dearborn Heights, Mich., while fishing with Bob’s Trophy Charters and one landed June 15 by Anthony Hanson of Anchorage, also fishing with Bob’s Trophy Charters.

That makes a total of three tagged halibut caught in this year’s derby, including one hooked May 19 by Janet Baldauf of Homer while Baldauf was fishing with Captain Pete’s Alaskan Experience.

It’s been a slow start for the derby, which is sponsored by Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. Paula Frisinger, derby coordinator, is hoping this recent activity signals a turnaround for the event, which began May 15 and continues until Sept. 15.

“It has been a very busy weekend and finally something to talk about,” said Frisinger.

The derby awards a $10,000 jackpot for the largest halibut brought in by a ticket-holding angler. Halibut tagged and released earlier this year promise even larger prizes. They include a GCI-sponsored tag worth $50,000; a Stanley Ford of Kenai tag worth a new Ford F-150 pickup; four tags worth $10,000 each and sponsored by Best Western Bidarka Inn, Coca Cola and Petro Express, Era Aviation and Fred Meyer Stores; 38 tags worth $1,000 each whose sponsors include, among others, Alaskan Suites, Beluga Lake Lodge, Land’s End Resort, Pioneer Car Rental, Rainbow Tours and Don Jose’s Mexican Restaurant; 59 tags worth $500 each; and 11 tags worth $250 each.

The value of the tagged halibut caught during the derby won’t be announced until the derby ends. 

Derby tickets are $10 per day and can be purchased at many local businesses and at the chamber and visitor center. Only anglers who have purchased a ticket prior to fishing are eligible for a prize.

Homer has a two halibut limit per day per person. 

For more information, call 235-7740 or visit www.homerhalibutderby.com.

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