Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The Jackpot Halibut Derby sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce ended Saturday night at 9 p.m., leaving a California fisherman $10,000 richer. And his bounty will have a direct impact on the community.
Jim Peeples, of Chico, California and his two buddies were fishing on his dad Phil’s boat “The Tackle Box” when the derby winner was caught on August 31st. He says it was an unforgettable, even scary experience when he pulled the bit fish up from the depths
Peeble says when he first hooked it the huge fish was generally cooperative. It took only about 10 minutes to bring it up to the boat—but then things changed. It took all four of them about an hour to wrestle the fish into the boat.
The winning fish was 92 inches long—which he says is just shy of the world record for a rod and reel caught halibut—and it weighed 323.2 pounds.
This year’s derby ran from May 15th to September 15th, a month shorter than last year according to Chamber Director Monte Davis. He says with ticket sales lagging for about two weeks before the derby picks up steam, and then dropping toward the end, it made sense to cut down on staff time devoted to the event.
And this year Davis says the emphasis was on resource conservation, focusing less on catching the biggest fish.
“This derby for a long time has encouraged people to take out everything from 50 to 60 pounds up, and those are the biggest producers of halibut," said Davis. " So now you can still go out there and catch anything from 50 to 250 pounds but what we’re encouraging you to do is take a picture of that and let it go.”
There were no second or third place prizes for the biggest halibut caught in the derby this year, but plenty of tagged fish worth various amounts of money were taken during the course of the derby—although some of the most valuable tagged halibut were left swimming.
The 14,000 derby tickets sold this year has had sizable economic impact on the community. Davis says it’s an influx of just over a million dollars into the local economy.
But winner Jim Peeples wants to make an investment as well. His dad, Captain Phil who owns a bait and tackle shop in Chico, California—hence the name of his boat—would really like to spend more time fishing around here. With his winnings Jim aims to help him do exactly that by investing in a piece of land in Homer so his dad can spend summers fishing up here.
Of course, Jim will want to join him now that he’s had a taste of catching the big one, and plans to be back in Homer for the 2013 Jackpot Halibut Derby.