Butch Knutson of Gillette, Wyoming (third from the left) celebrates taking the lead in the Jackpot Halibut Derby on June 26, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided by Homer Chamber of Commerce)

Butch Knutson of Gillette, Wyoming (third from the left) celebrates taking the lead in the Jackpot Halibut Derby on June 26, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided by Homer Chamber of Commerce)

Wyoming man leads Jackpot Halibut Derby

Homer’s 2019 Jackpot Halibut Derby is off to a strong start with a new leader, according to the Homer Chamber of Commerce.

The longest running halibut derby in the state, the competition entices anglers to buy tickets, with prizes given out for the largest halibut of the season along with several other categories.

The chamber, which hosts the derby, made about $73,000 from the event in 2018. Debbie Speakman, executive director of the chamber, said at a January chamber meeting that ticket sales for the derby had dropped by 7,000 from 2017 to 2018.

As of June 26, Butch Knutson of Gillette, Wyoming has the lead with a halibut weighing 189.6 pounds, according to the chamber. He was fishing with Captain Travis Blount of Homer Ocean Charters on the Diamond Cape.

Tom Youngblood, a former winner, also caught a fish this year and stopped in to weigh it. He caught the 107.8-pounder with Ron Hurley of In-2-Fishing Charters on the Sweet T, the same captain he fished with the year he won in 2009, the chamber reports.

The prizes offered by the Jackpot Halibut Derby include:Major Tagged Fish Prizes give a chance to win $25,000 from the Homer Chamber of Commerce or $10,000 in cash from Homer Fish Processing.

Tagged Fish Prizes include over 100 fish worth $1,000, $500 or $250. All tagged fish winners receive an immediate cash prize and are eligible to win the two major tagged fish prizes of $10,000 and $25,000, announced at the Sept. 20 Jackpot Halibut Derby Gala.

Released Fish Prizes: Those who catch and release a halibut measuring 48 inches or more are entered to win $500 at the Jackpot Halibut Derby Gala.

Kids prizes: Kids 12 years and under are automatically entered in the end-of-season drawing at the Jackpot Halibut Derby Gala.

Just for the Halibut: All tickets will be entered to win $1,000 and the end of the season, even if purchasers don’t fish.

Catch a Lefty: Catch a left-handed halibut to win $150.

Jackpot Prize for largest fish of season – $10,000 plus 50 cents per ticket sold.

Value-added coupons are provided with every derby ticket sold from Kachemak Gear Shed and McDonald’s​.

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