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Eagle Scout catches huge halibut, leads derby

Jackson Hobbs, 16, put scout motto into practice by purchasing $10 derby ticket; his 335-pounder could net him $10,000 or more if it holds up

Eagle Scout Jackson Hobbs, left, is congratulated by skipper Travis Larson for the huge halibut he caught. Photo by Nyle Nightcap/Homer Chamber of Commerce

Eagle Scout Jackson Hobbs, left, is congratulated by skipper Travis Larson for the huge halibut he caught. Photo by Nyle Lightcap/Homer Chamber of Commerce

The scout motto is “be prepared.” So when Jackson Hobbs began his fishing trip in Alaska, a gift from his grandfather for becoming an Eagle Scout, the 16-year-old from Franklin, Idaho, promptly put the motto into practice.

He bought a $10 ticket into the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby.

The payoff for his preparedness could be huge.

Jackson Hobbs poses with his huge halibut, a 335-pounder that leads the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby. Photo by Nyle Lightcap/Homer Chamber of Commerce

Jackson Hobbs poses with his huge halibut, a 335-pounder that leads the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby. Photo by Nyle Lightcap/Homer Chamber of Commerce

Hobbs landed a 335-pound halibut Tuesday while fishing with Venturess skipper Travis Larson of Alaska Premier Sportfishing in Homer, Alaska, to take the lead in the derby, which runs through September 15, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.

His huge halibut surpassed the previous leader by 57 pounds, and would have been big enough to win 16 of the previous 28 derbies dating to the event’s beginning in 1986. The biggest derby winner weighed 376 pounds.

If his halibut remains the leader until the finish of the derby, Hobbs will win $10,000, plus 50 cents per derby ticket sold. Last year’s winner received $21,281, and four years ago the payout was $40,610.

“We believe this is the youngest possible derby winner in derby history,” Homer Chamber of Commerce director Jim Lavrakas told Alaska Dispatch News, adding that nobody he’s spoken with can remember anyone younger winning.

Remarkably, it only took Hobbs 30 minutes to land the huge halibut, a fish he’ll no doubt remember for a lifetime.

“He was pretty stunned at the time of landing [the fish],” Larson told GrindTV Outdoor in an email.

Next came some anxious moments as the deadline for weighing the fish approached. Derby rules say anglers must weigh their fish on the same day it’s caught and do so by 9 p.m. Luckily, Hobbs made it with a half-hour to spare.

“My boat is slow, and we knew we were close,” Larson said. “We burned an extra 200 gallons of fuel to get home!”

Jackson Hobbs and the crew from Alaska Premier Sportfishing pose with huge halibut. Photo from Alaska Premier Sportfishing Facebook page

Jackson Hobbs and the crew from Alaska Premier Sportfishing pose with huge halibut. Photo from Alaska Premier Sportfishing Facebook page

Larson was happy for Jackson, whom he called “a fine young man” and gave an example of the type person he is.

“A day earlier on a trip, he approached me while salmon fishing and apologized for losing one lure and offered to repay me,” Larson related. “Funny part about that is that in 15 years I’ve never had an adult make the same offer.”

Larson also noticed Jackson had loaded into a backpack the seven or eight silver salmon caught by the charter that day and was taking them to the cleaning station.

“He said no one asked him, he just thought it was the right thing to do to pack the older guys’ fish,” Larson explained.

As for the Eagle Scout’s preparedness in purchasing a derby ticket on Tuesday, Larson said, “As a crew, we were discussing this en route to the fishing grounds and mentioned that the fish gods would certainly smile at him today. I guess they did!”

Yes, they did.

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