Down to its final two weeks, the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby has a new leader in the big-fish portion of the reconfigured derby that this year is emphasizing tagged fish and released fish.
James Peeples of Clipper Mills, Calif., hauled a 323-pound flatfish aboard his boat, The Tackle Fox, on Friday to grab the top spot. The biggest fish in derby that ends Sept. 15 will earn $10,000.
Peeples' big fish knocked Carol Allis' 300-pounder off the top of the leader board.
So far this season, seven tagged halibut have been caught by anglers with derby tickets.There have also been 26 flatfish entered in the monthly released fish derby so far.
Before this season, derby officials decided to rework the derby to de-emphasize all the attention and prize money focused on big halibut, which are egg-laying females, in an effort to help a struggling population. Past Homer Halibut Derby winners have earned more than $40,000.
Instead, an assortment of prizes are awarded in other categories, including a tagged fish worth $50,000. Most of the tagged fish are modest halibut weighing less than 30 pounds.