By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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The derby continues until the last weigh-in and prize announcements at 2 p.m. at derby headquarters at the Port Angeles Yacht Club on Marine Drive.
Anglers can still participate in the derby, as tickets will be sold this morning at the Yacht club.
Owens caught the leading fish, a 61 pound specimen, with herring purchased from Jerry's Bait and Tackle of Port Angeles.
She said hauled in the fish in about 100 feet of water in the “Freshwater Bay area” around 7 a.m. Saturday.
“We got a bit of a late start today [Saturday]. We were supposed to be down at 4:30 a.m., but by the time we got out and set up it was past 6 a.m.,” Owens said.
“But it worked out just fine. I'm on top with the biggest catch of the day, so I'm totally OK with it.”
Owens, 21, was fishing with her boyfriend Russell Thorne, her older brother Clint, both of Sequim, and her brother's friend Matt Mace, a Pierce County resident.
It was the second halibut she has ever caught, the first a 25-pounder in the 2012 derby.
She was done for the day after reaching the one-halibut limit but went back out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca with her fishing partners, none of whom landed a halibut.
“We'll be back at it tomorrow,” she said.
If Owens' fish holds the lead, she'll take home the $5,000 first prize.
Last year, Robert Beauvais of Joyce won the derby with a 96-pound halibut.
The top 30 fish bring home cash prizes for successful anglers.
Up next on the leader board is a 52-pound fish caught by Cory Hilzer of Kent that was weighed in at 1:15 p.m. Saturday.
Port Angeles resident Garret Delabarre was third with a 51-pound fish brought in at 1:52 p.m.
Sumner's David Heath was fourth with a 51-pound halibut after weighing in at 11:30 a.m. and Spencer Constant of Port Angeles rounded out the top five with a 49-pound fish, weighed in at 1:45 p.m.
“They came in pretty slow today,” Port Angeles Salmon Club vice president Scooter Chapman said.
“We weighed in 55 total fish.”
Chapman said there was an unofficial total of 560 anglers this year, down 57 so far from last year's total.
A record 937 anglers fished the derby in 2005.