Great weather, yellowtail to 33.5 pounds, bass to 7.7 pounds and just few tuna
Updated Monday afternoon, with corrections...July 25:
THE CAPTAINS MEETING at the Hotel Coral on Friday night. There were 42 teams and 161 anglers at the two-day tournament held last weekend in Ensenada. The tourney made its return after three years off the books.
WON/Yamaha Hotel Coral and Marina Tourney…a new beginning
Great reviews from attendees, perfect weather, two 30-pound yellows, poor fishing for tuna but there were nine winning teams in the money under the new three-division format
BY GARY GRAHAM
WON Staff Writer
ENSENADA - The weather was nearly perfect. Light breezes and a sunny afternoon prevailed in Ensenada as Hurricane Dora that had threatened the lower end of the Baja peninsula early in the week lost its momentum. Along with the great weather, hopes were high as participants began arriving on Friday the 22nd for the WON Yamaha Hotel Coral and Marina Saltwater Championships.
Some old-timers with fond memories of the tournament from past years mingled with newbies who were excitedly discussing strategy as they entered the huge white-canopied registration tent.
Sponsors’ banners festooned the perimeter of the tent including Yamaha, Hotel Coral and Marina, Avet Reels, Ahi Assasin Rods, Costa Sunglasses, Seaguar, Charkbait Tackle, Tequila Sports Bar and Gamefisher Charters in Ensenada, Plano, Terrafin, Reactor watches, Navico Electronics, Promar Nets and Roger Gregg and Mario Herrera of Baja Naval boatyard that donated a $700 gift certificate.
Throughout the afternoon more and more teams arrived to complete their registration and collect goody bags filled with Yo Zuri HYBRID, spools of Seaguar fluorocarbon, Lazer Sharp hooks, decals, Yamaha hats, and Tournament t-shirts and hats provided by Hotel Coral and Marina.
During the Captains' Meeting, Tournament Director Pat McDonell welcomed the 42 teams and 161 anglers to the “First Annual” WON Yamaha Hotel Coral and Marina Saltwater Championships Captains’ meeting. It was hardly the first annual, but it is a new beginning, thus the subtle joke by the director. The tourney ran for 10 years before a three-year hiatus of the event, brought back this year under a different date and three-division format. There was a electrifying sense of anticipation and excitement among the teams. Front tables at the podium were piled high with items that would be raffled and raffle tickets were drawn; rods, reels, line, lures, tackle boxes, bait nets, and rod cases were presented to the lucky winners.
Rules were reviewed and McDonell finished up the captains' meeting nearly an hour before Tournament hours began at 7 p.m. Friday evening, which allowed teams plenty of time to reach the area of their choice to fish for one or all of the three qualifying species…bass, yellowtail and tuna…and return to be at the weigh-station by 6 p.m. Saturday.
THE WEIGH-IN at the fuel dock.
When the weigh station opened at 3 p.m. on Saturday, the first boat was waiting, an encouraging sign for the staff. Throughout the afternoon a steady stream of boats arrived. Reports were mixed; some boats had tales of near misses, others unloaded their catch to be weighed. As is often the case when fishing is slow, strategy, skill and luck in equal parts had a lot to do with the outcome. By the time the weigh station had closed, the leader board had changed many times as all the categories were filled.
The awards party began exactly at 6 p.m. with a specially prepared carne asada buffet as the "Los Milagros" band cranked up the volume.
McDonell began the first annual WON Yamaha Hotel Coral and Marina Saltwater Championships Awards evening by recognizing Enrique Lutteroth, owner of the Hotel Coral and Marina. He commented that the hotel and its staff were superb and thanked them for the shirts and hats as well as the carne asada buffet and the band. Special thanks also went to Linda Contreras, Event Coordinator at the hotel, Fito Espinosa, Manager of the marina and Edgar Sanchez and his staff at the marine store for their many hours of effort and support.
The WON tourney staff included McDonell, Tournament Director, Gary and Yvonne Graham, Bill Jubb, Dorothy Krause, Bob and Chris Semerau.
For the record, the biggest yellowtail was a 33.5 pounder by team 41 of of Jorge Pimientel and Guillermo Pimientel and Sabas Munoz who also placed second in the bass division with three bass for a total of 16.5 pounds and won $600. The second biggest was a 31.1-pound yellowtail taken at the 220 spot by the team 32 on the Melody, the biggest bass was a 7.7 pounder by team 34 and the largest tuna was a 22-pounder by team No. 1.
THE BIGGEST YELLOWTAIL was a 33.5 pounder by team 41 of of Jorge Pimientel and Guillermo Pimientel and Sabas Munoz
Also for the record, nearly every angler praised the event, even the fishing was slow.
Gail Davis and her husband Bob fished the event with their family, towing their Seaswirl Striper from Chino Hills and took advantage of the Green Angels escort on both ends of the trip from San Ysidro to the Coral, and back to the border on Sunday, as did WON staff.
“It was wonderful, the whole tournament, and having the escort for first-timers bringing a boat took a lot of worry since we’d never trailered down in Mexico,” said Gail. “They just pulled out in front of us with their lights flashing, and stayed with us all the way down to the hotel.” Said her husband Bob, “A lot of our friends said they wouldn’t come down with their boats but we’ll telling them about the great experience we had. We’re coming next year and we’ll have other people come after they hear about how fun this was.” (See letter at the end of this blog)
The overall championship team based on overall points was team No. 6 that finished third in the tuna division, 12th in the bass division and eighth in the yellowtail division to win the Yamaha $1,000 and four Reactor Gravitron 2 watches and the Team Captain’s humidor with cigars. The team was made up of John Koen, Jim Ekema, Jeff Kimm, Matt Thalmayer, and Rob Van Grouw. The team also won $400 for finishing third in the bass division, for a $1,400 cash total.
Taking first in the Tuna Division was team No. 1 of Brian Caster, Brian L. Caster, Dean Dwyer, Ryan Garcia and Paul Corso. They weighed in two tuna, topped by a 22-pound albie (biggest of the 4 tuna brought to the scales) that won them $1,000 for first place and $1,440 for the $200 tuna optional for a total of $2,440.
Team Rickdiculous led by boat owner and team captain Rick Windbigler won the most money in the event out of nine teams that earned bucks. The team of Windbigler, Richard Beswick, Nathan Whitney, James Dragoo, and Richard Bestwick Jr. took first in the Yellowtail Division for $1,000 with three fish and won the $200 and $300 yellowtail optionals with a 24.2 pounder for another $2,320 for a total of $3,320.
Second biggest money winners were on team No. 7 which took the $100 yellowtail optional with a 28.8 pounder for $1,520. The team was made up of Bob Aaronson, Tony Nino, Chris Wheaton and Marty Dufek. They fished the Coronados in the Middle Grounds, using live squid. They hooked 4 and got the one money winner.
“Great tournament, even if we hadn’t won any money,” said Aaronson, owner of Angler Management boat service in Vista, but it’s nice, but this is great tournament, a great venue for guys, and I’ll be back next year. It’s nice to see the tournament back after three years.”
Another big money winning team was the team of Mike Hale, John Spice, Gary Shotz, Randy Fardley and Mike Shotz. They brought in a 15.3-pound bluefin to win the $100 optional for $1,280 and placed second in the tuna division for a total of $1,880.
Team 31 won the $1,000 first place prize for catching three calicos that weighed a total of 18.8 pounds. The team was made up of Tom Donahue, Jim Burhle and Randy Tremplay.
The $100 bass optional had $720 in it and it was claimed by team 34 made up of Bobby Lienau , Sean Morgan and Lamberto Lizarraga. They weighed in a 7.7-pound calico., which was the biggest of the tournament. They also picked up $400 for fishing third in the Bass Division for a total of $1,120.
Other teams that won money included team 41 made up of Jorge Pimientel and Guillermo Pimientel and Sabas Munoz who placed second in the bass division with three bass for a total of 16.5 pounds and won $600. They also caught the biggest yellowtail, a 33.5 pounder, but it did not figure into the winnings as they were not in the yellowtail optionals and other teams had multiple yellowtail to weigh.
Another $600 was picked up by team No. 35 which placed second in the Yellowtail Division with two fish for 35.6 pounds. The team consisted of Mike Dyer, Rick Magana, Chris Chee and Paco Gonzales.
A check for $400 was earned by team No. 36 of Bill Litton, Todd Mullen and John Alba with a 34.9 pound yellowtail that placed their team in third in the Yellowtail Division.
Twelve teams weighed in bass, seven teams weighed in yellowtail and three teams brought a handful of small bluefin and albacore to the scale as the bite was too far away for tourney boats, out by the 302 Spot.
THE MELODY TEAM HAD the second biggest yellowtail, a 31.1 pounder, caught by Mel Ostberg. However, that fish and the biggest yellowtail, a 33.5 pounder by team 41, were not in the optionals and did not place in the division as other teams weighed in multiple fish for a higher aggregate score.
BOB AARONSON'S TEAM of Aaronson, right, and Tony Nino, Chris Wheaton and Marty Dufek. They won the $100 optional for $1520. Look for more details in the next two issues of WON.
A letter to WON.... after the event...
BAJA BOUND…TO THE CORAL
We, the Davis family, six in our group, started our adventureto the WON tournament last weekend at Shelter Island with our boat in tow. We met with wagonmasters Gary andf Yvonne Graham and Bob and Chris to caravan to our destination. We got on the road precisely at the scheduled time and headed for the border. Once we went through inspection the "Green Angels" with lights flashing were there waiting to escort us to our hotel.
It truly gave of a sense of security being it was our first time. We arrived at our hotel safe and sound. Within 15 minutes the boat was launched and we were checking in. It was a breeze. Shortly thereafter we registered for the tournament and after signing up we were given gift bags full of cool things.
Saturday morning bright and early...Team Reelfishy, Robert Sr, son Robert Jr, son Andrew and good friend John, headed out for some fishing! Couldn't ask for better weather. After a full day of fishing we headed to the awards banquet where lots of prizes were given out and delicious food.
Sunday morning, once again we were escorted back to the border. Thank you Green Angels! A Big Kudos to the staff of WON! Everything was organized very well. Everyone involved were so kind and lots of fun. Without a doubt we will be doing it again next year and letting everyone know that it was an awesome time. Thanks again WON staff!
Robert Sr. & Gail
Robert Jr. & Lori