Oregon angler takes derby lead with 277.8-pound fish

An Oregon angler has taken the lead in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby’s big-fish category with a 277.8-pound barndoor caught Monday. Ned Friedman of Chiloquin, Ore, was fishing with Capt. Greg Northover of Alaska Arctic Sun Fishing & Hunting Expeditions aboard the Quintessence.

“It was only a matter of time before a fish was caught that weighed more than 250 pounds, and it was Freidman’s day,” said Jim Lavrakas, executive director of the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, organizer of the event.

Earlier in the day, Mark Meaders of Lake Geneva, Wis., enjoyed the first-place spot with a 197-pound halibut he reeled in while fishing with Alaskan Fishing Adventures aboard the Yoda. The joy of being the derby leader was short-lived however, “when Friedman brought in his monster,” said Lavrakas.

This week’s action moves Molly Malthby of Cheboygan, Mich., into third place with her 196.8-pound halibut. Malthby had held the coveted first-place spot in the derby since hooking her halibut June 6 while fishing with Capt. Ben Martin of North Country Charters aboard the Fringe Benefit.

No matter the size of the fish, the crew at the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby headquarters on the Spit, known as the “Spitquarters,” is happy to use the scales to weigh a fish. That’s what they did for one unticketed angler last week. The good news in that instance: The fish weighed an impressive 222.0 pounds. The bad news: The angler hadn’t purchased a $10 derby ticket. In other words, the angler went home with some nice chunks of halibut for the freezer, but no chance at any derby prizes.

The Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby began May 15 and continues until Sept. 15. Twenty-two halibut are currently posted on the derby’s online leader board.

With Friedman, Meaders and Malthby in first, second and third spots, respectively, the remain top 10 are:

Fourth place: 185-pound halibut caught July 6 by Casey Byrnes of Palmer while fishing with Capt. Josh Brooks of Brooks Alaskan Adventures aboard the Huntress;

Fifth place: 141.80-pound halibut caught July 5 by Michael Martini of Sunman, Ind., while fishing with Capt. Ben Martin of North Country Charters.

Sixth place: 139-pound halibut caught June 26 by Mike Leno while fishing with Capt. Rob Hyslip of Big Bear Halibut Charter aboard the Bear Force I.   

Seventh place: 134.40-pound halibut caught June 22 by Sean Hoffbeck while fishing with Capt. Gabe Linegar of Drift Alaska Charters aboard the Casino;

Eighth place: 110.60-pound halibut caught June 22 by Weldon Creech of Houston, Texas, while fishing with Capt. Ethan Harders of Big Bear Halibut Charters aboard the Bear Force II;

Ninth place: 108.80-pound halibut caught June 4 by David Longacre of Orrstown, Pa., while fishing with Capt. Willie Beachey of Reel Fun Charters;

Tenth place: 106.60-pound halibut caught July 5 by David Conklin of North Pole while fishing with Capt. Ethan Harders of Big Bear Halibut Charters aboard Bear Force II.

The derby offers multiple prize categories. Among them is the chance of reeling one of the halibut caught, tagged and released by chamber members earlier this year. A tag on the 10-pound halibut Mark Mehalko of Grand Blanc, Mich., caught June 1 was worth $100. Angler Jim Morgan’s 11.50-pound halibut also was wearing a tag. It was worth $1,000. For releasing a halibut measuring more than 48 inches, Matt Hines of Minnetonka, Minn., won $500 in one of three raffles held during the derby. 

Derby tickets can be purchased at the visitor center, derby headquarters on the Spit and at many local businesses.

For up-to-date results, a list of prizes and more derby information, call 235-7740 or visit homeralaska.org.

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