Less than week left in jackpot halibut derby

Jackson Hobbs of Franklin, Idaho, has a lot on his mind. The 16-year-old’s high school soccer team is having a great season, beating teams it wasn’t expected to beat. Today, they take on their biggest rival.
That isn’t the main focus of Jackson’s attention right now, however. The 335.0-pound halibut he caught Aug. 19 while fishing with Capt. Travis Larson of Alaska Premier Sportfishing remains the biggest fish caught in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby. The four-month-long derby began May 15 and ends Monday.    
“I’ve been keeping track of it online,” a laughing Hobbs told the Homer News by phone on Monday.
He isn’t the only one keeping a close eye on derby results.
“Some people in my church come up to me and say they’ve been watching it, too,” he said. Still laughing, he said his circle of friends also has grown. “Everyone wants their favors fulfilled.”
This summer was Hobbs’ first trip to Alaska. It was a gift from his grandfather, Tim Hobbs, in recognition of the 16-year-old’s recently achieved Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts of America.
Tim Hobbs said in spite of the attention, his grandson is “trying to stay humble. Every place we go, people have read about it or seen it on Yahoo or Google and he really tries to keep a low profile. When he plays soccer, everyone says, ‘Oh, has he won yet? Is he going to win the money?’”
In addition to checking the online leader board posted by the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, sponsor of the derby, Hobbs also had glanced at past payouts for derby winners. Last year, a 236.2-pound halibut won Gene Jones of Bellevue, Wash., the jackpot prize of $21,281. In 2012, James Peeples, of Chico, Calif., won $10,000 for his 232.2-pound barn door. In 2009, Homer angler Thomas Youngblood won a whopping $40,440 with his 354.6-pound monster fish. The amount of the prize is $10,000 plus 50 cents for each ticket sold.
In case he does win the derby, Hobbs has plans in place for the winnings.
“I’ll do a bit of investing in the stock market, and then I’m going on a mission with my church when I graduate from high school,” said Hobbs, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, adding that he also would use it to help fund his college education.
Tim Hobbs has his sights set on future fishing adventures.
“We’ve already booked for next year,” he said. “We’re going to do a five-day instead of a three-day charter. The reason I’m coming back is that I have another grandson that has his Eagle Scout project started. I showed him the pictures from this summer and he’s getting all wound up.”
Larson said he had, indeed, booked Tim Hobbs and members of the family for a 2015 charter.
“And I imagine Jackson will be coming back as well,” he said. “This has been a pretty fun thing for him.”
Speaking of fun, angler Troy Patak of Ennis, Texas, hooked into some fun Monday while he was fishing with North Country Charters aboard the Irish. Patak reeled in a halibut with a tag worth $500. The tag was sponsored by Chuck and Janet Higley.
There have been no changes in the derby leader board since last week.
Derby tickets are $10 a day and can be purchased at the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, derby headquarters on the Spit, and many local businesses.
Up-to-date results, a list of prizes and more derby information can be found at homeralaska.org or by calling 235-7740.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.