The angler who caught a 41.8-pound halibut won first prize in 32nd annual Halibut Derby, held in Marina del Rey Saturday and Sunday, April 1st and 2nd.

“It’s big enough to feed 35 people, ” said elated winner Victor Jedlicka, who hooked the biggest halibut he said he ever caught.

The fish was heavy enough to win the 2006 Halibut Derby hosted by the Marina del Rey Anglers.

Jedlicka fished on both Saturday and Sunday aboard Diver Gent, which sailed out in the Malibu area.

He caught the fish in approximately 58 feet of water.

While this was a personal record catch for Jedlicka, it wasn’t the first big halibut he has hooked.

He is the world record holder for line class ñ eight-pound for a 40.5-pound halibut he caught a few seasons ago — and he has bagged five other fish more than 30 pounds over the years.

On the first day of the tournament, Diver Gent cruised up to the Paradise Cove region but had no luck and got nothing but bat rays and shorts, Jedlicka said.

After a disappointing Saturday, the crew set their sights on the following day, hoping that their luck would change.

They returned to Malibu determined to do better.

“On the second day we went up into the Malibu area, we heard that a 37-pounder was caught there on the first day,” Jedlicka said. “So we knew we had to beat that.

“We fished real hard. I was at the rail all day just looking for that one hit.”

The “one hit” came in the afternoon after Jedlicka had been fooled by three prior bat ray catches.

“For a moment I thought, ‘Gosh, this may be another bat ray,'” Jedlicka said. “But then he came up.”

After Jedlicka brought the fish to the surface, the halibut became spooked and swam back down.

Jedlicka released the drag on his reel to allow the fish room to swim, but then brought it once again back to the top.

“We got him up and everyone saw how big he was,” Jedlicka said. “My friend put the gaff to him and in the boat he came. He was a beauty.”

Diver Gent then dropped the throttle and speeded for Burton Chace Park to make the weigh-in.

Jedlicka and company gave the tournament a bit of excitement and drama as they arrived just ten minutes before the scales closed with the winning fish.

For his efforts, Jedlicka won a fishing vacation to Baja California’s famous East Cape, the rooster fish capital of the world with accommodations for two at the Hotel Punta Colorada, including all meals, three days of fishing, freezing and packing the catch, airfare to and from LAX to Los Cabos Airport, and transfers to and from airport and hotel.

He also won $3,802 in cash.

This tournament is the oldest and largest fishing tournament on the West Coast with more than $65,000 in total prize and jackpot money given away.

In addition to being a highlight for local fisherman, it is also a benevolent charity fundraising event that supports the Marina del Rey Anglers Youth Fishing and White Sea Bass Enhancement Programs.

More than 1,300 kids from at-risk environments will be hosted in fishing trips this year out of Marina del Rey on the charter fishing boat Betty-O.

While a chance of ugly weather was forecast, the tournament went on under mostly clear skies and relatively flat seas.

“It was good, especially when you consider that there was rain forecast,” said tournament organizer Bob Kissling.

“But our attendance was greater than the last tournament and the fish that were caught were huge compared to last year.

“You had to have over a 30-pounder to even get in the top five this year,” he said.

Other winners and respective prizes included:

— second place, David Foreman, 39.6-pound halibut.

He won seven days and six nights for two at the Inn at Mazatl·n, including two days of fishing with Heimpel’s Star Fleet, all meals and air fare between LAXÝand Mazatl·n.

— third place, Ryan Bower, 39.2-pound halibut.

He won five days and four nights, at the El Cid Hotel for two in Mazatl·n, including two days of fishing with Aries Fleet, all meals and airfare between LAX and Mazatl·n.

— fourth place, Jimmy Stathis, 37.6-pound halibut.

He won five days and four nights, at Las Flores Hotel for two in Mazatl·n, including two days of fishing with Heimpel’s Star Fleet, all meals and air fare between LAX and Mazatl·n.

—fifth place, Adolf Valdez, 33.5-pound halibut.

He won six days and five nights at Las Rocas Resort,ÝRosaritoÝBeach, Baja California, including three days of fishing with Sergio’s Sportfishing, Ensenada, and all meals.

SIXTH TO TENTH PLACES:

— sixth place, Daryl Gray;

— seventh place, Robert Poteete;

— eighth place, Mike McDermott;

— ninth place, Matt Napolitano; and

— tenth place, Gary Johnstone.

They won Shimano Scimitar Rod and Corvalus Reel combinations provided by Turner’s Outdoorsman.

Angelers who won 11th to 15th places also received rod-and-reel combinations from Turner’s.

TOP LADY ANGLER:

Sandra Rodriguez caught a 21.8-pound halibut.

She won a high-quality fishing reel and a trophy to mark her achievement.

YOUTH DIVISION:

— first place, Christian Bueno, 25.1-pound halibut, $300;

— second place, Tara Brooks, 19.8-pound halibut, $200; and

— third place, Jonathan Yuja, 13-pound halibut, $100.

In addition to the cash prize, each youth received a high-quality Shimano rod-and-reel combination from West Marine.

CASH JACKPOT:

— first place, Victor Jedlicka, 41.8-pound halibut, $3,802;

— second place, David Foreman, 39.6-pound halibut, $2,281; and

— third place, Ryan Bower, 39.2-pound halibut, $1,521.

TEAM PRIZES:

— first place, Dean Morrow and Gary Johnstone, total weight points of 49.9 lbs, $2,575 cash prize;

— second place, George Castio and Jose Castio, total weight points of 35.8 lbs, $1,545 cash prize; and

— third place, Dale Cornett and Wayne Cornett, total weight points of 33.2 lbs, $1,030 cash prize.

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