It was a quiet week in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby, according to derby coordinator Paula Frisinger.
“A few prior (year) tags came in and a few weigh-ins that didn’t make the board,” said Frisinger of fish making it onto the Spit weigh-in board.
That’s good news for Gene Jones of Belleview, who holds the lead in the big-fish competition with a 236.2-pound halibut he caught July 25 while fishing with Capt. David Bayes of Central Charters aboard the Grand Aleutian.
Not all big halibut make it to the weigh-in station. For instance, an angler fishing with Bayes on Sunday released one weighing more than 200 pounds.
A party of three Georgia fishermen were with Bayes on the Grand Aleutian, fishing in 130 feet of water, when one in the group hooked what was clearly a big fish.
When Bayes asked if he had a derby ticket, “He said no and I started the ‘you might want to release it’ speech. … It always seems to strike home when I tell them halibut this size lay more than four million eggs a year.”
Once on board, the fish measured three inches longer than a six-foot gaff. According to the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s halibut length-weight chart, a halibut measuring 75 inches weighs more than 224 pounds.
“Finally one (of the group) said they already had enough meat and I said ‘If you’ve got enough meat, you should probably release it.’ They said OK,” said Bayes.
Returning the huge halibut to the sea didn’t diminish from the excitement of a day of fishing.
“They were really excited and signed the guest book with all kinds of exclamation marks,” said Bayes.
Big halibut aren’t the only prize-worth fish in the derby. There were 114 halibut caught, tagged and released earlier this year. The value of that bling ranges from a A GCI-sponsored tag worth $50,000 to $250. The value of each tag will be announced after the derby ends Sept. 15.
Homer has a two halibut limit per day, per person.
Derby tickets are $10 a day and can be purchased at the chamber and from many local businesses.
For more information, visit www.homerhalibutderby.com.