|ENSENADA CHAMPIONSHIP: "More fish than
Team Profish wins $3,720 and Rickdiculous scores
$3,040 to pace big winners; Team Its 4 Reels takes home $5,000 Coral Blind
BY GARY GRAHAM
WON Staff Writer
ENSENADA -- The gentle breeze confirmed
it. The most-recent weather report
promised a let-up from the relentless winds that had been blowing for several
weeks. And the colorful sponsor
banners that were hung on Friday morning confirmed it.
was in place for the 2012 WON/Yamaha/ Hotel Coral Saltwater Championships.
and volunteer optimism grew as decorated tables were piled high with raffle
prizes donated by a long list of sponsors – prizes to be given out during the
Captains’ meeting on Friday as well as Saturday’s Awards ceremony.
team member standing in front of the display of raffle prizes turned to his
buddies and said, “Man, I would come for the raffle alone! I can’t wait to see if I win an Avet
reel this year!” Others around him
agreed. As it turned out, by the
end of the event more than 40 participants were raffle prize winners with most
taking home multiple items.
the pre-registered teams began to arrive mid-afternoon on Friday, WON
Tournament team veterans greeted one another and mixed with newcomers at the registration
tent overlooking the fuel dock next to the weigh-station. They debated which jackpots to enter
and cautiously swapped recent fishing information with other teams. The number
of teams taking advantage of the early-bird registration was similar to
preceding years. There were many
familiar faces, with teams returning to enjoy camaraderie and fun they had
experienced in the previous years.
Unfortunately, because the winds had blown for several weeks, many of
the local teams who normally sign up on the day of the event, decided not to
the afternoon, music blared, enthusiasm grew, and the bar set up at the
entrance did a brisk business as friends once again swapped past years’ fishing
tales. The casting contest drew a crowd for the heated competition with a brand
new Avet casting outfit the prize. Casters were given one practice cast and one
try at the target. There was ample criticism and encouragement for each
contestant, with plenty of hooting and hollering when the caster back-lashed
the target was tough and casters had to adjust their casts to compensate for
the brisk winds from the west, which had begun to strengthen throughout the
afternoon. Finally, it came down to a cast-off between Chris Ortiz, Team 15;
and Richard Beswick, Team 11. Ortiz, won the casting outfit by one foot!
Director Pat McDonnell welcomed all the Captains, team members and guests at
the Captains’ meeting, promising fun on land and water. He complimented the
Coral Hotel and Marina for the new venue that allowed both the weigh-station
and activities tent to be together in the same area. He also expressed his
gratitude to the many event sponsors including Baja Naval, $700 gift
certificate, local marine store Agencia Arjonas’ 100 T-Shirts, Marina Coral
Marine store, special tournament event hats for all the angler welcome bags,
Yamaha hats, Mustad Hooks, Avet Reels, Plano, Seaguar, Yo-Zuri special Sashimi
3D Magnum and Hotel and Marina Coral.
cautioned that the reports from arriving boats indicated the ocean was grumpy
and everyone should take care, reminding each team that they had a shot at the
money as long as they catch even one yellowtail or tuna. It would be a big
mistake not to weigh in one of those two fish regardless of size.
and Marina Coral donated $5,000 for the Blind Bogey. Like all Blind Bogeys, a weight randomly with
each angler submitting a possible ticket with a winning weight and type of
fish. One ticket would be chosen
at the Captains’ meeting in a secret drawing. The team that weighed in a tuna
or yellowtail with that weight known only to the director would win the $5,000.
In case of a tie, there would be a drawing for the sole winner. If no fish
with the exact weight was weighed-in, the two closest teams, the one just under
the weight, and the one just above the weight, would be in a two-team drawing.
closed the meeting by wishing everyone good luck fishing and reminding the
Captains that the tournament staff along with the Tecate girls would be waiting
at the scales on Saturday from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.
filling their bait tanks with fresh sardines and mackerel, many of the teams
wisely decided to head out to their secret spot that night, allowing plenty of
time to cruise out at a comfortable, slower speed.
afternoon, the weigh-in station was manned early. Weight slips were ready to be
filled out and the scales were checked and rechecked for accuracy long before
the first boat returned. Spectators gathered to watch as lots of yellowtail and
fewer tuna were wheeled up the dock . . . all under the watchful eyes of the
Tecate Girls – Cindy Villegas and Evelyn Hidalgo from Tijuana. Both Cindy and
Evelyn are Cheer Leaders for Tijuana’s Xolos Soccer team, one of the most
popular teams in Baja. Their outfits were team colors…red and black. This was
their first time to attend a sportfishing event and they cheerfully posed with
all the lucky anglers who weighed-in qualifying fish.
steady parade of boats arrived at the dock to unload. Blair Lechtenberg and
Sonia Haas, Castaic, Calif., on Salty Jack
had three yellowtail, the largest being a 22-pound,
caught on an Avet reel that Sonia (one of only two lady anglers in the
tournament) had won in the Friday night raffle. Somehow in the excitement of
unloading the fish and tackle, Blair dropped the rod and new Avet reel over the
side. He dredged with a large
treble hook for a half- hour before he managed to snag and recover his
the scale closed at 6 p.m., there had been 26 qualifying yellowtail, the
largest 23.8 pounds and three tuna with the largest 27.3 pounds.
everyone acknowledged the seas were rough and it was tough fishing, they all
had stories of larger fish lost among their good catches. One winner, Mike Ricigliano, winner of
the yellowtail division commented, “When
we found the kelp patties we nailed ’em on sardines. Then we caught a few on
lures; we had a dozen in the 18-pound range and three or four in the 10-pound
a great carne asada buffet – Mexican
comfort food – Pat McDonnell thanked sponsors, staff, and volunteers who had
helped produce the event before he went on to the awards and raffles.
chatter could be heard throughout the room and if you listened carefully, you
could hear various comments coming from the tables. "I feel lucky tonight!
We are going to win something . . .” and “Look at the pile of raffle items left
on the table. Looks like there’s
enough for all of us to take home something.” One table of participants, who had probably started early,
was chanting, “Don't stand around, buy us a round!” They seemed delighted to be on dry land and were definitely
ready to party; it was obvious the grumpy seas had not dampened anyone's
the teams brought fish to the scales, filling the three slots in the Tuna and
Yellowtail divisions with up to three fish (combined) and six single fish for
the $100, $200 and $300 tuna and yellowtail optionals.
top team on Profish, John Leonard,
Phillip Faubert, Arthur Anderson and Vance Boucher, with two
bluefin weighing 17.4 and 11.6 pounds won the Tuna Division prize of $1,000; plus the three yellowtail
optionals with a 23.8 pounder worth $2,560, for a total $3,720.
top money winner from last year, Team Rickdiculous, in spite of rough seas, headed out to the 238
Spot capturing a 27.3-pound bluefin that secured them the $1,000 Yamaha Big
Fish Award, along with $600 for Tuna Division’s second place award, and another
$1,440 for the three single-fish tuna optionals totaling $3,040. The team
included Captain Rick Windbigler, Jim Dragoo, Nathan Whitney, Richard Beswick,
Matthew Whitney and Steve Honn.
Rick proclaimed, “We fish all the WON Tournaments except Los Cabos Tuna Tournament.
This year we may enter that one as well.”
Grace with Robert McNerney, Mike
Ricigliano and Mark Lewis won the Yellowtail Division with three yellows at
53.2 pounds for $1,000. Mike Ricigliano expressed his thanks and surprise.
“The prize money was a bonus; we would have come just for the raffle.”
place Yellowtail Division winner was the team of John Soria, Louie
Prieto and Eric Spalding with three yellows for a total of 41.8
pounds winning $600.
randomly selected weight for the Blind Bogey prize of $5,000 was 20-pounds,
2-ounces. Two teams competed as they were the closest to that weight and were
entered into a two-team drawing:
Louie Prieto’s 4-pack charter boat, Its 4 Reels caught a 19.7-pound yellow and Team 8 which weighed-in
a 20.9 pounder. Marina Coral Manager Fito Espinsosa drew the ticket and
Prieto’s Its 4 Reels, nabbed
the $5,000 Hotel Coral Blind Bogey. Sr. Espinsosa made the check presentation
on behalf of the hotel, providing the cash award. “We fish this event every
year and are richer for not turning back because of the weather,” Prieto said.
returning team Blackjack with
Mike Kraus, Ed Day and Juan Cordona caught two yellows weighing 40.7 to finish
third in that division for $400.
Sanchez, Marina Coral Marine store, observed that the strong winds and rough
conditions affected the turnout of many of the locals who normally compete. His
assistant, Mariana Hammann, noted that, “The ongoing FMM situation is confusing
and has certainly impacted the number of boats arriving from California that
would normally have participated in the tournament this weekend.”
in spite of the weather, the comments coming from the teams leaving the
activities tent loaded down with raffle prizes, their winnings and smiles on
their faces echoed the famous words of a former governor, “I'll be back.”
TEAM 4 JOHN LEONARD, SAN DIEGO, PHIL FAUBERT, Huntington Beach and Arthur T. Anderson, scored
$1,000 for combined tuna catch plus yellowtail optionals across the board for
grand total of $3,720.
THE Tecate Girls, Cindy Villegas and Evelyn
Hidalgo from Tijuana.
TEAM 11 RICKDICULOUS, made of up of Rick Windbigler, Jim Dragoo, Nathan
Whitney, Richard Beswick, Richie Beswick and Steve Honn, caught a 27.3 bluefin tuna that
won the Yamaha Big Fish $1,000 contest in addition to 2nd largest Tuna for $600 and tuna optional jackpots across
the board for a total of $3,040.
THE $5,000 BLIND BOGEY SPONSORED by Coral Hotel and Marina was won by the Its 4 Reels team
captained by Louie Prieto, a local
sports bar and charter boat owner. Making the presentation was Coral Marina manager Fito Espinosa.
ONE WINNER, MIKE RICIGLIANO winner of the Yellowtail Division commented, "When we found the kelp patties we nailed ’em on
sardines. Then we caught a few on lures. We had a dozen in the 18-pound range
and three or four in the 10-pound range."
WON PHOTOS BY GARY
SPECTATORS GATHERED TO WATCH AS LOTS of yellowtail and fewer tuna were wheeled up the
Team 4 Profish
John Leonard, Phillip
Faubert, Arthur Anderson, Vance Boucher
2 bluefin tuna of 17.4 and 11.6 pounds for 29.2-pound
total. First place in Tuna Division, $1000
1 yellowtail of 23.8 pounds,
sweeping the three yellowtail options for $1,180, $960 and $480 for $2,720.
Total winnings, $3,720
Team 11 Rickdiculous
Rick Windbigler, Jim
Dragoo, Nathan Whitney, Richard Beswick, Richie Beswick, Steve Honn.
1 bluefin tuna of 27.3
pounds. $600 for second place in Tuna Division, and swept the three tuna optionals
of $720, $480, $240 for $1,440. The 27.3-pound tuna was the big fish
of the event, and won the Yamaha Big Fish Award of $1,000.
Total winnings, $3.0400.
Team 13 Lady Grace
Robert McInerney, Mike
Ricigliano and Mark Lewis
3 yellowtail of 18.4, 17.5
and 17.3 for 53.2 pounds to win Yellowtail Division and $1,000
Total winnings: $1,000
Team 14 Its 4 Reels
John Soria, Louie Prieto
and Ernie Spalding
3 yellowtail of 19.7, 15.9, 6.2
pounds for a total of 41.8 pounds
and $600 for placing second in the Yellowtail Division. Also won the $5,000
Hotel Coral and Marina Blind Bogey.
Total Winnings: $5,600
Team 7: Blackjack
Mike Kraus, Ed Day, Lee
Madding, Juan Cordona
Weighed in 2 yellowtail of
21.3 and 19.7 pounds for a total
of 40.7 pounds and placed third in the Yellowtail Division for $400
Total Winnings: $400
Top 10 fish
1) 27.3-pound bluefin tuna,
2) 23.8-pound yellowtail, team 4
3) 22.6-pound yellowtail,
4) 21.3-pound yellowtail,
5) 20.0-pound yellowtail,
6) 21-pound yellowtail, team 11
8) 19.4-pound yellowtail,
9) 18.4-pound yellowtail,
10) 17.5-pound yellowtail, team 13