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Thread: Homer Halibut Derby-Did the Changes Work?

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    Default Homer Halibut Derby-Did the Changes Work?

    I am just sitting here after hearing about the results of the Homer Halibut Derby and can't help but wonder about the changes they made and the effects of those changes. Do you think that it made a difference? Seems like the changes got a warm reception on a thread here when they were announced, but now that the season is over, how did the behavior of fisherman change due to the change in derby rules? I realize that there were plenty of large halibut released and kudos to those folks. But how many people reeled up a large halibut this year and said to themselves or out loud,"The prize for the biggest halibut is only $10,000 this year, throw it back!"
    I saw on Dave Bayes website, the day of fishing is free if you release a 250 lb. or greater halibut. Don't know Dave personally, but it seems like a pretty admirable thing to do. Why doesn't the derby reimburse someone like that for trying to conserve the resource if that fisherman had a derby ticket? Until we take the emphasis completely off the largest fish, people will continue harvesting them. I know that the derby has to keep the excitement there and make their money, but there has got to be some other way. I am not in any way ragging on the Homer Chamber of Commerce or the derby, I just think that there has got to be another way to keep the derby going and let those big fish keep swimming around. Just my thoughts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cwm907 View Post
    I am just sitting here after hearing about the results of the Homer Halibut Derby and can't help but wonder about the changes they made and the effects of those changes. Do you think that it made a difference? Seems like the changes got a warm reception on a thread here when they were announced, but now that the season is over, how did the behavior of fisherman change due to the change in derby rules? I realize that there were plenty of large halibut released and kudos to those folks. But how many people reeled up a large halibut this year and said to themselves or out loud,"The prize for the biggest halibut is only $10,000 this year, throw it back!"
    I saw on Dave Bayes website, the day of fishing is free if you release a 250 lb. or greater halibut. Don't know Dave personally, but it seems like a pretty admirable thing to do. Why doesn't the derby reimburse someone like that for trying to conserve the resource if that fisherman had a derby ticket? Until we take the emphasis completely off the largest fish, people will continue harvesting them. I know that the derby has to keep the excitement there and make their money, but there has got to be some other way. I am not in any way ragging on the Homer Chamber of Commerce or the derby, I just think that there has got to be another way to keep the derby going and let those big fish keep swimming around. Just my thoughts.
    This is just off the top of my head right now after a long day of fishing and I'll probably add more with time, but I do know that it's hard to overcome the "I want BIG halibut" syndrome that seems to exist with people from the "lower-48". Personally if someone contacts me to fish for "trophy halibut" I tell them they'd best be served fishing with someone that targets fish like that. I explain to them what is going on out there right now and for the most part they just don't seem to realize what goes on in the halibut kingdom and what's going on with the fishery in general. Some people just seem to have "tunnel vision" and all they want to fish for are "trophy fish" but most people seem to want to be able to ship some "good eating" fish back home. (And for some reason some people here seemed to "put me down" for only targeting those fish that MOST people seem to think are the best size to catch as "freezer fare"---thus the "paddle patch kids" posts.)

    I took a LOT of people out fishing for halibut this year (+300?) and a fair percentage of them didn't have the slightest clue that there was even a halibut derby going on, or if they did they just thought it was a "BIGGEST FISH" derby. When I told them about all the tagged fish that were out there then a large percentage of them would buy derby tickets, though I had quite a few people that said they thought it was just like entering a "lottery" and didn't want to participate.

    I did my best to try and educate the people I did end up taking out about exactly what is going on with the halibut population and just about everyone said, after hearing what's going on, that they agreed with the way the derby was being run.

    So, all in all, I think the new derby format worked pretty well. I know I personally educated a LOT of people this summer regarding the halibut population "problem" and hopefully it stuck with those people. Maybe next year there can be a little less emphasis on the BIG halibut prize and make it a little more halibut population friendly for all of us.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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    cwm907, Capt Bayes is a great charter operator, and has been doing the release thing for a long time. Not so sure the changed has helped that much. Most of the 150lb and up fish were killed by people that wern't fishing in the derby. Many of the charter clients are looking to take home a 50lb box of fish, and that takes about 100lbs in the round. For me the best fish are the 40lb to 60lb fish. Not many 40lb and up fish are chalky. The best thing that could happen for the halibut would be to have a 36in minimum size and only 1 per year over 70in.

    This should make this more interesting.

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    Member power drifter's Avatar
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    While down in Homer just about 2 weeks ago I was there for this one hanging. I'm guessing it was the winner. Nice to see I guess but for sure think we could do some thing different for ours games. I'd be open to bets on the boats rather than the fish.IMG_5642.jpg

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Some of the information regarding the success of the new approach can be found in this article from the Alaska Dispatch. While the goals are laudable, it doesn't look like too many people actually reported releasing halibut of 50 pounds and over.

    During the derby, five fish were released in the first month, six in the second month and 14 in the third month.


    Each month of the derby, three names were drawn from anglers who released halibut weighing 50 or more pounds, with a $1,000 overall prize awarded, a $250 prize awarded to a senior angler and a $250 prize awarded to a military-veteran angler. Only one released halibut was reported during the final month of the derby, making Kent Christopher of Denver, Colo., fishing with Capt. Greg Sutter of Captain Greg's Charters aboard the Tomahawk, the overall $1,000 winner.
    If that's the case next year, it looks like a good opportunity to make some money back while fishing. The odds of coming away with some prize money for releasing a large halibut are pretty solid based on this year's results.

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    Long line lip on that hog? If so amazing how many got it.
    Mike
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    Prince of Wales Island

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    Default Homer Halibut Derby-Did the Changes Work?

    By my math, it looks like about $22,000 total was won by participants. Some years they have given the big fish winner in excess of $40,000+tagged fish prizes for other anglers, with the chamber obviously making money during those years as well. I realize that the participants had the chance to catch fish tagged with better prizes, it seems like the anglers and the halibut got the short end of the stick this year. I don't know the rate of participation this year, but read an article earlier in the season that sales were comparable with other years up until that point. Hmmm......

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    The changes were a great idea and a success, I bought more derby tickets then I normally would to support them and participated in the release category although I didnt win anything off the releases i turned in it was fun competing.Sure changes like teaching anglers it's better to release large halibut takes time. I salute the homer chamber for having the sence to put conservation above profits and the sooner others take this same approach the better off the resource will be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    ...it doesn't look like too many people actually reported releasing halibut of 50 pounds and over.
    When I told clients about the "released fish" category, even after telling them about the plight of the halibut population AND the potential for winning a prize in the released fish category, I'd say about 99% of the clients I had said something to the effect of, "If I catch a halibut over 50 lbs. you can believe I'm not releasing it." I'd say well over 90% of my clients were from the lower-48 with a vast majority of them coming from places such as the mid-west and the east coast and though they didn't actually say this to me, I have to believe they really could care less about what's going on with halibut up in this area. They have spent thousands of dollars to make their Alaskan trek, and paid me to get fish for them and what seems to me to be their primary concern is putting as much halibut into shipping boxes as they possibly can.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muttley Crew Fishing View Post
    When I told clients about the "released fish" category, even after telling them about the plight of the halibut population AND the potential for winning a prize in the released fish category, I'd say about 99% of the clients I had said something to the effect of, "If I catch a halibut over 50 lbs. you can believe I'm not releasing it." I'd say well over 90% of my clients were from the lower-48 with a vast majority of them coming from places such as the mid-west and the east coast and though they didn't actually say this to me, I have to believe they really could care less about what's going on with halibut up in this area. They have spent thousands of dollars to make their Alaskan trek, and paid me to get fish for them and what seems to me to be their primary concern is putting as much halibut into shipping boxes as they possibly can.
    If 99% of people on charters (combination of locals and non-locals) wouldn't release a halibut over 50 lbs, then that would mean that only 1% (let's say 1 out of every 100 people on charters) would be willing to release it. If that 1 person is local, then that's still not a very high percentage (10%?) of locals who are going on charters who would release it. My guess is that most locals who pay to go on a halibut charter are likely to keep a fish to help fill the freezer, regardless of the size of the fish. For non-locals, I'd guess that most are wanting to keep what they catch so send home, and some couldn't care less about keeping the fish and are doing a charter just for the experience. I've never been marlin fishing, but my understanding is that few people anymore actually keep them (unless trophy size) and for the most part it's now catch and release. Unless/until that mentality catches on here, I don't think that things will change. If they do, then I think it would be a very gradual one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Muttley Crew Fishing View Post
    When I told clients about the "released fish" category, even after telling them about the plight of the halibut population AND the potential for winning a prize in the released fish category, I'd say about 99% of the clients I had said something to the effect of, "If I catch a halibut over 50 lbs. you can believe I'm not releasing it." I'd say well over 90% of my clients were from the lower-48 with a vast majority of them coming from places such as the mid-west and the east coast and though they didn't actually say this to me, I have to believe they really could care less about what's going on with halibut up in this area. They have spent thousands of dollars to make their Alaskan trek, and paid me to get fish for them and what seems to me to be their primary concern is putting as much halibut into shipping boxes as they possibly can.
    I believe this and if you can't count on the people doing the right thing then the rules have to change to tell these folks how it's going to be. 1 fish is coming and they might need it to say only then how big is ok.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skydiver View Post
    If 99% of people on charters (combination of locals and non-locals) wouldn't release a halibut over 50 lbs, then that would mean that only 1% (let's say 1 out of every 100 people on charters) would be willing to release it. If that 1 person is local, then that's still not a very high percentage (10%?) of locals who are going on charters who would release it. My guess is that most locals who pay to go on a halibut charter are likely to keep a fish to help fill the freezer, regardless of the size of the fish. For non-locals, I'd guess that most are wanting to keep what they catch so send home, and some couldn't care less about keeping the fish and are doing a charter just for the experience. I've never been marlin fishing, but my understanding is that few people anymore actually keep them (unless trophy size) and for the most part it's now catch and release. Unless/until that mentality catches on here, I don't think that things will change. If they do, then I think it would be a very gradual one.
    Keep in mind that I'm only speaking from MY experience and the clients that I have taken out this year. I can't speak for all the other active charter captains around here. I'm really kind of surprised that none of them have weighed in here.

    Regarding your statement: "For non-locals, I'd guess that most are wanting to keep what they catch so send home, and some couldn't care less about keeping the fish and are doing a charter just for the experience." Of all the charters that I did this year I only had one where the people didn't want to keep the fish they caught and that was just a few days ago. They didn't feel like paying to ship their fish back east even when I pointed out the economics of it all and how it would be cheaper to ship their fish back east than to buy it in a store where they live.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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    One of the main reason the derby changed was to do away with the monthly prizes which killed multiple 100- 200lb fish each month trying to win the prize. The changes did away with that and put more emphasis on the released prizes. Sure anglers want to take meat home but if they know the larger 100+ pounders should be released and the more sustainable smaller to medium sized ones for eating would be the best thing to encourage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MGH55 View Post
    cwm907, Capt Bayes is a great charter operator, and has been doing the release thing for a long time. Not so sure the changed has helped that much. Most of the 150lb and up fish were killed by people that wern't fishing in the derby. Many of the charter clients are looking to take home a 50lb box of fish, and that takes about 100lbs in the round. For me the best fish are the 40lb to 60lb fish. Not many 40lb and up fish are chalky. The best thing that could happen for the halibut would be to have a 36in minimum size and only 1 per year over 70in.

    This should make this more interesting.
    How about I over 60" per year and 2 a day under, there's no shortage on small ones. Actually harvesting more smaller sized ones (under20lbs) may help the chalky/mushy fish that are undernourished by thinning them down.

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    redleader, One of the main reasons for the 36in minimum would it would all but stop the half day trips and alot of the two trip per day boats. It would also make the charters stay off of the chicken patches and do a better job for thier clients. With a 36in minimum size limit most of the talk about chalky fish would go away. The one over 70in would cut back on the number of larger females taken, but still allow anglers to retain high quality fish. I can't support one over 60 untill longliners have a max size. If you want to thin down the smaller fish that are chalky let the longliners take fish from the inlet only with a slot limit of 28in to 36in. And back to the Derby changes did they work? For the chamber yes, for the halibut no, for the fisherman no. From what it sounds like the sales may have been down some, but the profit margin may have been up.

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    I still should have gotten the prize for the smallest halibut caught this year.. )) Dave can vouch for that one. LOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by MGH55 View Post
    redleader, One of the main reasons for the 36in minimum would it would all but stop the half day trips and alot of the two trip per day boats. It would also make the charters stay off of the chicken patches and do a better job for thier clients.
    I like where your head is on this. I think that it would only be a matter of a couple of years when 36" fish would be a lot more common. This would virtually put the half day charters out of business as they operate now and I have to say that it wouldn't hurt my feelings. They could always switch to full day charters after changes but would probably charge more and thus have more competition. I definitely hope it would curtail those taking out two sets of clients per day as I find this at best unethical from a resource conservation standpoint.

    Quote Originally Posted by MGH55 View Post
    And back to the Derby changes did they work? For the chamber yes, for the halibut no, for the fisherman no. From what it sounds like the sales may have been down some, but the profit margin may have been up.
    That was my point all along. In the past the winnings have been proportionate to the revenue of purchased tickets and winnings have been much higher. This year, it was a set amount that was well below anything seen in the past and still lead the same end result. The emphasis has to change to catch and release only for large halibut (200+lbs) because if you are still handing out cash for killing big fish , people will still do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MGH55 View Post
    redleader, One of the main reasons for the 36in minimum would it would all but stop the half day trips and alot of the two trip per day boats. It would also make the charters stay off of the chicken patches and do a better job for thier clients. With a 36in minimum size limit most of the talk about chalky fish would go away. The one over 70in would cut back on the number of larger females taken, but still allow anglers to retain high quality fish. I can't support one over 60 untill longliners have a max size. If you want to thin down the smaller fish that are chalky let the longliners take fish from the inlet only with a slot limit of 28in to 36in. And back to the Derby changes did they work? For the chamber yes, for the halibut no, for the fisherman no. From what it sounds like the sales may have been down some, but the profit margin may have been up.
    Not sure that would get rid of the half day charters and more damage would be done on catch and release of under size fish. What's wrong with limiting each angler to only one halibut over 60" (over 100lbs) a year when they can have as many as they want under? Still hung up on I won't do it till the commercial guys have to? We have to start somewhere and the sport fishermen should set the example.

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    I don't see why the half day guys are being targeted or even a concern. They have a business model that keeps them in business that involves killing a mix of male/female halibut. The problem lies with the disappearing act the breeders are doing. Eliminating the 2 trips a day guys might lower the total catch taken by the charter fleet, (enabling the breeder killers to keep killing breeders) but it isn't addressing the problem, which will eventually bite you guys in the arse.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by redleader View Post
    ...and more damage would be done on catch and release of under size fish.
    Yeah, I got thoroughly chastised by a particular forum member here for catching and releasing halibut that weren't satisfactory to my clients saying I was just killing halibut unnecessarily. If you subscribe to that feeling then going to a 36" limit is just going to decimate the halibut population even more.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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