Homer angler hits halibut derby jackpot

Posted: Wednesday, September 05, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A retired printer who landed a 322.8-pound halibut won this year's Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby, beating another angler by just six-tenths of a pound.

Tom Barkman, 65, will receive more than $34,000 for hooking the big one. David Gapp, a 58-year-old electrician from Andover, Minn., who caught his monster fish while on vacation earlier this summer, gets nothing.

''I'm real excited,'' Barkman said. ''I'm probably going to have a party for all the Homer skippers.''

Gapp took the news in stride.

''Oh well,'' he said. ''I was hoping that second prize would be something. But that's fishing.''

Barkman said he will split the winnings with Mike Swan, captain of the charter boat, Brazen, and Barkman's fishing buddy.

''Fifty-fifty, after the IRS,'' he said.

Derby coordinator Linda Winters said the official purse will be announced Wednesday, and it will be in excess of $34,000. Winters estimated that more than 17,000 derby tickets were purchased and only three 300-plus pound fish were caught during the derby, which began on June 1 and ended Monday night. Michael Jones of Valparaiso, Fla., caught the derby's third-biggest fish at 301 pounds.

The derby record is 376 pounds caught by Jerry Meinders of Springfield, Va., in 1996.

Barkman landed his catch on July 1, 50 miles out of Homer in a spot called the 18th Hole. Barkman was fishing with Swan and a group of fishermen on Brazen. He knew he had a monster on the second he hooked into it.

''Oh yeah, I knew it was a big fish but I had no idea I had a 300-pound fish,'' Barkman said.

Fifty minutes and one .410-gauge shotgun blast to the fish later, Barkman and two others hauled the catch onto the boat.

Barkman's catch put him above Gapp, who caught his fish on June 25.

Gapp, who was visiting Alaska for the first time, got $1,000 for catching June's biggest derby fish.

''It was pretty unreal,'' Gapp said. ''That was biggest fish I've caught in my life. Never in a million years would I think of catching a fish that big.''

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