Only three weeks to reel in the halibut of the season

Anglers still aiming to come out on top in the 28th annual Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby have less than three weeks to haul in the winning catch. There is some stiff competition.

On August 19, 16-year-old Jackson Hobbs reeled in a monstrous 335-pound flatfish, putting him in the No.1 spot on the derby leader board, the Homer News reported. Hobbs, on vacation from Franklin, Idaho, was on a fishing trip with his grandfather Tim Hobbs, who was treating Jackson to the outing for obtaining his Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts of America.

The current runner up is well under Hobbs’ catch, weighing in at 277 pounds caught by Ned Freidman from Chiloquin, Oregon, according to the Homer Chamber of Commerce website, homeralaska.org, which provides an up-to-date standing of derby winners.

Three of more than 100 tagged fish circulating the Lower Cook Inlet have been caught, including one with a matching $1,000 prize. It was caught by Jim Morgan and weighed only 11.5 pounds, according to the chamber website.

The derby took a turn toward promoting sustainable fishing practices two years ago when the Jackpot was lowered from 20 percent of the total revenue from derby ticket sales to $10,000 plus 50 cents from each ticket.

This year 16,000 tickets were printed, and more than 10,000 had been sold as of the last audit, said the Chamber’s Executive Director, Jim Lavrakas.

This year has shown an increase in participants in the “Release to Increase,” portion of the derby, Lavrakas said. That partially has to do with new Fish and Game regulations.

Since charter anglers must throw back a second catch smaller than 29 inches, captains have been helping their patrons cash in on the drawing for released fish.

Every fish caught and released measuring more than 48 inches makes the angler eligible for a monthly drawing of $500 and an end of the season jackpot for $1,000, and has yielded three winners so far this season, according to the Chamber website.

“It’s an interesting twist,” Lavrakas said. “And it’s an opportunity to promote the idea that big fish need to go back.”

The tagged fishing with the corresponding prizes for GCI’s $50,000 jackpot and Stanley Ford’s F-150 are still available, according to the chamber website.

The biggest fish caught in the derby was in 1996 when Jerry Meinders from Willmar, Minnesota, boated a barn door that weighed 376.

These giants however have not been as commonly found at the end of fishing lines this season, said Fish and Game Fishery Biologist II Division of Sport Fish in Homer Barbi Failor.

Fishing effort for halibut been consistent through out the season, and resulted in success for fishermen throughout the Lower Cook Inlet, Failor said. For the last few weeks, anglers have reported consistently catching their daily limits, she said. However, more often the fish pulled in have been on the smaller side.

 

This will be the final weekly Tight Lines page for the 2014 fishing season. Starting in September, Tight Lines will appear on the third Thursday of the month. Have a fish tale of photo to share? Email us at news@peninsulaclarion.com.

 

Kelly Sullivan can be reached at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

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