Chad Aldridge received a phone call on Friday night at about 9 p.m., the soonest Homer Halibut Derby organizer Paula Frisinger could possibly get the news to him.
He had won the champ’s pot in the annual halibut derby contest, $28,260.
Since Aldridge caught his 350.8 pound halibut earlier in the summer on June 19, he had some serious waiting to contend with before finding out if his fish proved the largest.
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I kept telling myself someone would beat me. A 339-pounder caught was pretty close. It would have been a tight contest,” Aldridge said.
That halibut was caught on Sept. 25 by Chriss Ryherd of Soldotna.
Chriss Ryherd of Soldotna caught a 339.6 pound halibut Sept. 25, capturing first place for the month. He was fishing with Capt. Sean Martin of North Country Halibut Charters aboard the M/V Irish. His catch came close to challenging the season leader, Chad Aldridge who landed a 350.8 pounder June 19.
Also new in the standings is another Alaskan, Askel Buholm of Palmer who caught a 226.8 pound halibut Sept. 24. He was fishing with Capt. Josh Brooks aboard his boat, the Huntress. He is now in second place for the month.
With a little over a week to go in the Chamber of Commerce’s Jackpot Halibut Derby, the September standings changed by two over the weekend.
Sheryl Warmblood of Eagle River now holds second place with a 178 pounder caught Sept. 17 while fishing with Capt. Mike Swan aboard Beausoleil of North Country Halibut/Spirit Charters. She is September’s new lady angler.
Now in fourth place, Renee Lyons of Denver, Colo. caught a 97.8 pound halibut Sept. 18 fishing with Capt. Billy Joe Adams on his boat.
The Kachemak Bay Water Trail was christened under blue skies Sunday and calm water, with good cheer and champagne, establishing a trail that will eventually extend as far as Seldovia with marked campsites along the way.
Dave Brann, the organizer and visionary who developed the water trail proposal, said he has been toying with the idea for five or six years.
“This last spring, I really got into it and started promoting the idea after I went to the Alaska Trail Rendezvous,” Brann said. The Alaska Trail Rendezvous is a meeting of trail enthusiasts from around the state held by the National Park Service.
Although the 358.8 pounder landed by Chad Aldridge June 19 still holds the lead in the Chamber of Commerce Jackpot Halibut Derby, there are two new place holders in the September line up this week.
Dale Lichty of Miller, S.D. now holds second place with a 173.6 pound halibut landed Sept. 10 while fishing with Capt. Rob Hyslip of Big Bear Halibut Charters aboard Bear Force 1. William Beirne, of Tehachapi, Calif., caught a 91.2 pounder Sept. 7 fishing with Capt. Eric Lehm of North Country Charters aboard the Storm Petrel capturing fourth place.
Breezes ranged from one to three knots Saturday, making for a very leisurely Labor Day weekend race for Homer’s sailors.
Ron Downing, winner of several races this season, was one of three racers stranded at the green can for nearly an hour. “Then we lost all wind 100 feet from the finish and were sucked toward the ferry dock so I had to turn on the motor (thus disqualifying.)”
Downing said that the initial plan for a course was abandoned due to lack of wind and they just “raced” from the Hickory dock around the green can shoal marker a little west of the Spit, 2.8 nautical miles.
John Perez of McCall, Calif. landed a 220.2 pound halibut Aug. 21 to capture second place in the August standings in the Chamber of Commerce’s Jackpot Halibut Derby, according to Paula Frisinger, Derby coordinator.
He was fishing with Captain Brian Nollar aboard the Belle Ille of the Midnght Sun Charters.
Joanne Gitchel of Walker, Minn. still holds first in the August standings with a 271.8 pounder landed Aug. 4 while fishing with Captain George Eischens aboard his boat the Adak Venture. She also retains the title of Lady Angler for the month.
Two fishermen got lucky last week in the Jackpot Halibut Derby. Coleman King of San Francisco captured second place in the August standings with a 190.4 pounder caught Aug. 9 while fishing with Crystal Sea Charters’ Captain Steve Button aboard the Donna May.
And Dave Weimer of Junction City, Kansas landed a $500 tagged fish sponsored by South Peninsula Hospital.
The areas upstream of the two-mile regulatory markers on the Anchor and Ninilchik Rivers and Deep and Stariski Creeks opened on August 1 to fishing for Dolly Varden and steelhead/rainbow trout. Salmon may not be targeted or harvested upstream of the 2-mile regulatory markers.
“Where has the summer gone?” Jackpot Halibut Derby coordinator Paula Frisinger asks rhetorically as she submits the mid-August standings.
Although Soldotna’s Chad Aldridge still leads with the 350.8 pounder caught June 19, some new monthly leaders have joined the winners.
Jeanne Gitchenl of Walker, Minnesota holds first place in the August standings with a 271.8 pounder caught August 4 fishing with Captain George Eishens aboard his boat the Adah Venture.