A Wisconsin angler who caught a 20-pound tagged halibut on Alaska’s Cook Inlet last Friday could have gone home with $10,000 from the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby.

He _could have_--if only he’d known about the annual event and purchased a $10 ticket prior to going fishing.

Instead, all Fort Atkinson, Wisc. resident Steve Merson received for his tagged $10K fish was a Homer Derby cap to wear.


Paula Frisinger, representing the derby-sponsoring Homer Chamber of Commerce, said she spoke with Merson at length after he returned to the Homer harbor with his catch.

“I think he was feeling pretty blue because he didn’t know about the derby,” Frisinger told the Anchorage Daily News. “That’s really, really sad.”

Merson was the second angler to catch a tagged flatfish this year without entering the derby. That unlucky fisherman caught a $1,000 fish, but all he took home were filets and memories.

The Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby has been an annual event in this famous fishing destination since 1986.

Merson told Frisinger that he made the trip to Alaska to celebrate his 40th birthday. Some angling buddies were supposed to join him, but they cancelled at the last minute.

“He saved and saved for this trip,” Frisinger said. “His friends decided not to come, but he said, ‘What the heck; I’m going anyway.’”

But even though his pals weren’t along for his fateful catch, it’s very likely that the news of his fiscal misfortune will reach his peers before he gets back to work.

That’s because Merson is a hatcheries supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources—where fishing news travels at warp speed!

(Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby photo)