(left to right) Homer Chamber of Commerce Board President Tom Stroozas, Derby Mascot King Hal, 2016 Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby winner Austin Nelson, Derby Coordinator Kim Royce and HCOC Executive Director Karen Zak pose with Nelson's derby photo and check for $15,419.50 at the Homer Halibut Jackpot Derby award event on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby awards thousands to lucky anglers

When Austin Nelson, a member of the U.S. Army and the angler who reeled up a 252.2-pound halibut in mid-August, found out he won the Homer Halibut Jackpot Derby, he travelled from his station in North Pole to accept his prize in person at the awards event on Wednesday, Sept. 21. $15,419.50

“This is the biggest sum of money I’ve ever won. I consider myself an avid gambler so I feel like I’m getting some of my money back,” Nelson said.

Despite being a self-described gambler, Nelson doens’t plan to let this one ride. He said he will take the money and put it in a savings account.

“I’ll probably save most of it until next year and then hopefully put it down as a down payment on a new truck and buy some Slim Fast for him,” Nelson said, referring to his tall, already-slim friend Patrick Fatsimmos who came down to Homer with him.

Fatsimmos was on the boat with Nelson and helped him reel in the winning halibut, which took an hour. Also present at the appearance of the winning fish was Captain Travis Blount of Homer Ocean Charters who received $1,541.95, 10 percent of the derby winnings, for being the captain on the trip where Nelson caught the winning fish. Diane Borgman of Homer Ocean Charters received $1,000 for selling Nelson his derby ticket.

In addition to the biggest fish winner, the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby showered cash prizes on a few other anglers and businesses. Richard Greer of Minneapolis, Minn., was picked in the drawing for the $35,000 vehicle credit from Kenai dealership Stanley Ford. Chamber of Commerce Board President Tom Stroozas called to congratulate Greer during the award ceremony, who chose to take the $20,000 cash value for the car. Though there is not a winner in the vehicle credit drawing every year, this is the second year in the last three years that an angler won the drawing. The drawing for the $50,000 prize sponsored by GCI had no winner.

The drawing out of a pool of fish measuring over 48-inches pulled up Michael Brooks of Tipton, Mich., as the winner of $1,000.

The Chamber also awarded Sportsman’s Supply and Rental $250 for selling the most derby tickets as a retail business and $250 to Bob’s Trophy Chater for selling the most derby tickets as a charter. The Chamber estimated that Bob’s Trophy Charter sold approximately 1,800 tickets over the course of the derby.

Five youths — Seth Allen of Honolulu, Hawaii; Jordan Grey of Anchorage; Alexa Meyer of Rice Lake, Wis.; Katie Brown of Wasilla; and Nickolas Larson of Anchorage — were awarded $185 each for the drawing out of kids under the age of 12 who bought a derby ticket.


2016 tagged fish winners:

June 10 Tomm VanderHorst Arvada, CO $250

June 11 Christopher Cella Johnstown, OH $250

June 14 Karla Fischer Garrison, ND $250

June 17 Christian Hakiza Canyon, TX $250

July 17 Lita Lubitsh-White Anchorage, Ak $250

Aug. 7 Margie Dupuis $250

Aug. 11 Leslie Barilani Gig Harbor, WA $250

June 16 Gillian Glidewell Anchorage, Ak $500

July 29 Robert Wellman Clay City, IN $500

Aug. 2 Austin Hunter Bean Station, TN $500

Aug. 12 Richard Greer Apple Valley, MN $500

Aug. 1 Rebecca Cramer Denver, CO $1,000

Aug. 7 Jay Justice $1,000

Previous year tagged fish winners:

July 8 Spencer Hill Aurora, CO $100

July 8 Katie Kline Hummelstown, PA $100

July 2 Patricia Perkins Anchorage, AK $100

July 22 Keri Phillips Newcastle, WY $100

June 11 Mike Shirley Maple Valley, WA $100

June 9 Garrett Tyson Orlando, FL $100

Aug. 7 John Codiga Newburg, Ore. $100

Aug. 5 Holton Fowler Wasilla $100

Sept. 15 Victor Storia Grosse Ile, Mich. $100

July 29 Robert Wellman Clay City, Ind. $100

Anna Frost can be reached at anna.frost@homernews.com.

Homer Chamber of Commerce President Tom Stroozas calls $1,000 catch-and-release drawing winner Michael Brooks of Tipton, Mich., and leaves a message as Derby Coordinator Kim Royce looks on at the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby awards event on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Austin Nelson, winner of the 2016 Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby, laughs as derby mascot King Hal makes an appearance at the derby awards event on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

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