The Valdez Halibut and Silver Salmon Derbies wrapped up on Sept. 1 and the winners found their prize catches early and midway through the proceedings. The overall winners of the halibut and silver salmon derbies, respectively, were Christine Ives, of Fairbanks, who caught a 285.6 pound halibut June 6, and Tom Karlsten, of St. Cloud, Florida, who caught a 15.32 pound silver Aug. 19.
The halibut derby began May 18 and the silver derby started July 20. Ives held on for nearly two months to take home the gold, after catching her prize halibut aboard the Nunatak. She said that she had never been halibut fishing before and had to be talked into buying a Valdez Halibut Derby ticket. Ives was surprised at the notoriety she received as the leader of the derby.
“I’ve had people stop me around Fairbanks and be like, ‘Hey, you’re the girl that caught that halibut,’ and I was like, ‘Holy cow! I can’t believe you know about that,’” Ives said.
The captain of the Nunatak, Dave West, won the $500 Captain’s prize and the ticket seller’s prize of $500. Behind Ives, Christopher Barnes, of Moorehead, Minnesota, landed in second place with a 225.6 pound halibut caught June 24 aboard the Sea Quester. Joshua Curry, of Valdez, won third place in the derby with a 213.4 pound halibut he caught July 21 aboard the Mistress.
Tom Karlsten, of St. Cloud, Florida, has been fishing Valdez with his wife, Jane, for many years, but this year they had to try some unconventional ideas to get the big silver salmon aboard the Long Shot. Jane Karlsten said she prefers trolling for silvers because she loves to watch the shoreline but on Aug. 19 the fish weren’t biting so they anchored up and dropped a line.
“I always thought that jigging was not that productive,” Jane Karlsten said. “I was wrong.”
The Karlstens first came to Valdez in the summer of 2011 and they knew they had to keep coming back.
“If we were youngsters, we would be living here,” Jane Karlsten added.
Karlsten’s 15.32 pound silver salmon held onto the lead through the end of the Silver Salmon Derby. The Karlsten couple didn’t just take home the $10,000 first place prize — Jane Karlsten also won the $500 Captain’s prize. Tom Karlsten credits his wife for putting him on the fish.
Pravat Phumin of Valdez took second place in the Silver Salmon Derby with a 14.68 pound silver he caught Aug. 13 aboard the Seagull II. Phumin’s second place silver netted him $3,000 in cash. Frieda Wiley, who holds the distinction of catching the largest halibut on record in the Valdez Halibut Derby, won third place in the Silver Salmon Derby this year with a 14.48 pound silver she caught Aug. 28 aboard the Orion. Wiley’s catch was worth $1,500 cash. In 2017 Wiley reeled in a 374 pound halibut to win first place in the Valdez Halibut Derby.
The seller of the winning Silver Salmon Derby ticket was Dixie Shipman. She won a $500 ticket seller’s prize. The winner of Big Prize Friday was John McCay of Valdez with a 12.46 pound silver.
Photographs and information for all the 2019 winners, as well as the dates of next year’s derbies, can be found at bit.ly/2lXmHJP.
Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.