Catalina White Sea Bass

Click here for Catalina White Sea Bass

Thursday, September 06, 2012
change in rules/island only

Two Harbors again hosts Catalina WSB championship

Annual WON event is May 18-19 and is now an islands/offshore only event this year; Otherwise, the schedule and format is the same at the biggest white seabass tourney of the year! 

wsb 2013 logo for blog

TWO HARBORS, Catalina Island — Thousands of dollars, cash and prizes and the title of being the top seabass fishing team for 2013 are up for grabs this year at Catalina at the WON/Yamaha Catalina Island White Seabass Championship slated for Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19 at Two Harbors, Catalina Island
The one major rule change is that the tourney is an islands only event. The coast is off-limits for the event for a variety of reasons (see related story). The tourney is structured the same, with three optionals for three species for a total of nine, and paydowns for white seabass to fifth place.

CLICK HERE for itinerary and rules
McDonell explains: “There will again be the three team optional jackpots at $100, $200 and $300 for each species of halibut, seabass and yellowtail with 90 percent payback,” he said. The biggest fish takes the money in each of the nine jackpots for white seabass, halibut and yellowtail. As in all jackpots, your team is only competing against those teams that have also entered those jackpots with you, and you can enter any of them in any combination.

“It’s as though there are 10 tournaments,” said McDonell. “The nine optionals and the 10th is the overall race for first through fifth place that everyone is in.”
Based on 75 teams participating, first place overall (WSB, yellow or halibut) will be $7,000 in cash and prizes, second is $1,500 and prizes, third place is $1,000 and added this year to give more teams a shot at winning are payouts of $400 and $300, respectively for fourth and fifth place.

Teams must be made up of at least two people (safety concerns) but teams can have as many team members as long as they have paid the $100 individual entry fee, and they are all on one boat. There will be a boat check on Saturday via random drawing that will be “super quick” so teams can get to their fishing spots. Any fish on competing boats must have fins clipped before the captains meeting, or face disqualification.   

The release of teams is always a sore point in the event. “We will be having all the shore boats ready for the “release” of teams to make it as quick as possible,” said McDonell. “Bringing an inflatable to get back to your mooring, and having a close-by mooring will help.”

Again, this year, back by popular demand after its success last year in getting teams off the dock and into their boats to go fishing, we are allowing one team member to be in the boat a half-hour before teams are released. That will alleviate the mad rush on the shuttle as teams can call their designated angler to pick them up on the pier.  Again,  we will allow the other team members to accept any drawings that day, Saturday.  However, to win drawing prizes on Sunday at the awards ceremony, winners must be present.

The Catalina championship  will be more fun than ever. There’s a bunch of ways to win, start to finish.
In addition to NINE optionals and the overall competition, other ways to compete and win are part of your entry fee.  A significant percentage of the $100 entry fee will go to event clothing, BBQ and payouts to fifth place. The BBQ will be on Saturday 1:30 p.m. captains meeting after the check-in that begins at 120 a.m. at Two Harbors.  

Again, part of the tourney will be the Casting Contest on the beach, back by popular demand, and the Berkley knot tying contest, with cash prizes to third place. Last year the machine wasn’t working and the contest was not held, but Bob Hoose of Spiderwire promises it will be back in 2013. So, bring your A Game!  

Conservation is paramount in the event, thus the single fish weigh-in for the overall. We hope another brood stock collection effort will go on.  Hubbs will have a drawing and scan for tags on the pier, and the Pfleger Institute will again offer $5,000 for the first return of one of its electronic tags during the tourney.
Look for an entry form in WON, and at tackle shops in SoCal.  Call director Pat McDonell at (949) 366-0030, ext 33 for details or e-mail him at  

Catalina WSB tourney: Islands only in 2013

After looking at the results of the tournament the past two years, and the recent changes in the quality of the white seabass on the coast, the 2013 Catalina Island White Seabass Tournament, the first in SoCal and by far the biggest for more than a dozen years, will return to it's original format as an islands-only tournament.

 "The size of the coastal fish, which can only be explained by scientists as being the result of the greater forage area to draw bigger fish, makes having an island tournament open to coastal fishing an ongoing  mistake," said director Pat McDonell. "It makes no sense to hold a tournament at Two Harbors on Catalina Island and then allow teams to go to the coast and return with big tanker white seabass. It also encourages smaller boats to make what can be a dangerous crossing multiple times."

There were many teams who suggested a clarification of the rules after 2010 when a 53 pounder from Dana Point won the event. At the time, most teams never considered fishing the coast, or thought it was allowed. But fishing the coast has always been allowed. The fishery has changed, though, in recent years. Coastal fish have dominated the top 5 fish placing the past three years, and participation has suffered. Having a fair, even playing field for teams is the way to keep the tourney strong.

"It was my choice, and along with that choice there might be some dissenters, but over the years the tourney has always been known as an islands/offshore  event but in recent years the huge white seabass and the expertise to go with them have increased. It is now thought that unless you go to the coast, you can't win the event because that's where bigger fish are. Thus the change. The fishery is changing, and we have to change with it."


Tips and tactics for 2013 event

TWO HARBORS, Catalina Island —  The countdown has started for the annual WON/Yamaha Catalina  Island White Seabass Championship.  Here’s a Q&A that might answer questions that are typical.

Can I fish the coast? No. It is an islands only event this year. You can fish Catalina, San Clemente and Santa Barbara islands.  
Can I have more than four people on my boat? Yes, you are not limited, but each person on the boat must pay a $100 entry fee. There is a $20 late fee after May 10.  

Can I weigh in more than one fish? Only if you are in an optional for WSB, halibut or yellowtail.  Otherwise, bring just one fish. If you are in three optionals, you can weigh in all three species. Two optionals, two fish.
How do the optionals work? See below. It’s not as complicated as it seems.
Can I add to my optionals at check-in, or get into them for the first time when I check in? Sure. Add to them by check via mail, but  after May 10 only certified bank checks are taken by mail or credit cards.  Remember:  when on-site  all optional fees are to be paid in cash. Team entries can be paid in cash or credit card.   
Did you get my entry? We’ll check, but likely we did, and all team captains get a packet in the mail if you enter by May 10. If you need to know, e-mail Denise at

Western Outdoor News
Catalina WSB Championship
185 Avenida La Pata
San Clemente, CA 92673
Can I leave my boat to get some sleep? Yes, at any time. But you may lose your coveted seabass spot.

Will we get paid at Catalina by cash or check? No. All paperwork and info and percentages will be written down, and checks from WON accounting will go out a week to two weeks. All winnings are subject to U.S. taxes.

Can I keep a fish on my boat I caught the day before? Yes, but you MUST clip the fin or face a DQ. There will be a random 8 to 20-boat check by staff when we release boats. There’s a bunch of questions we’ll answer at the check-in from 10 a.m. to noon at Two Harbors on Saturday.
Can I have a team member sit on the boat during the captain’s meeting? No. One team member will be released to sit on the boat with a half-hour before we release you to fish. This is a rule change to facilitate a quicker release of teams on both sides of the isthmus. Only ONE team member will be released, and he will still be eligible for the drawings. With that rule, be aware there will be a logjam of people picking up team members. We will do the boat check at the dock before the boat leaves. If your entire team sneaks out early, your boat will be seen leaving by the harbor patrol and noted, and you may be picked for the random boat check. Miss it, and you can’t weigh-in.  
Will any rules change? All rules are subject to change, but it’s not likely. Also, the director has the final word on all decisions. If you can agree to that, welcome to the event!
Here’s some basic info on the event you might find useful.  

What to fish for: The White Seabass Championship is just that, a White Seabass event. While yellowtail and halibut count equally in the weigh-in, nearly every top spot is taken by a white seabass. The halibut and yellowtail are there in case there are few, if any, biscuits (big WSB) around for the five top overall payout spots, and for the nine optional jackpots ($100, $200, $300 for all three species for a total of nine optionals and total possible pay-in of $1,800). And knowing you won’t win or finish high in the overall is when you start looking for a halibut, ANY legal halibut, if you are in the optionals for halibut. Or yellowtail. You only have to beat the other guys who are in any optionals with your team. It’s like a separate tourney, really.

Stay a while: How much time should be spend prefishing? Or at the island itself. You can come over to Two Harbors Saturday morning, check-in, go fishing all night, come to the awards for your winnings or a chance at the drawings, and then head home immediately. Exhausted. Or, you can treat the tourney like a four-day weekend with a purpose. Pre-fish a day or two, stay at the island (Avalon or Two Harbors) for the four days, fish the event and stick around until Monday morning after a good night’s sleep and cross the channel in glassy conditions.

Get some sleep: Fish all night, or not. You can leave the boat at any time and come back to it. Some teams fish the evening of Saturday, catch a fish, get some sleep and go at it in the gray light. But like the family Christmas party, “on your feet, lose your seat” applies to the best spots. West Cove and Johnson Rock was four boats deep, so those with inside spots weren’t going anywhere. It’s why you pre-fish for “unlikely” or less obvious spots that are holding beeg fish.

Use heavy line: If you aren’t using at least 60-pound fluorcarbon leader and 65-pound braided line and a short leader, then you aren’t playing to win. Plan on hooking a big fish and landing it in a few minutes, or lose it to anchor lines, seals, sharp teeth (big white seabass have sharp teeth) or angling error.

Lodging: Two Harbors has limited lodging. There is camping and the Banning house B&B and Two Harbor moorings, but that’s it. If you want a condo or hotel, Avalon is where you need to reserve a room. If you have a comfortable boat to sleep on with elbow room, I’d suggest hunkering down at Two Harbors, enjoy the quiet of the venue, eat at the restaurant and enjoy the bar scene without the run to Avalon. Your choice, but remember, Avalon hotels usually require two or three-day minimums.

Where to moor: You can weigh fish from either side, but Cat Harbor is farther from the beach scale area. Again, this year you can position a teammate on a boat after the lunch to come get you after we release teams. This is to avoid the logjam. A shuttle is available at Two Harbors (Channel 9), but not Cat Harbor. There will be a boat check at the pier/dock. A random check. If you have a fish aboard without a fin clipped or more than one angler aboard, you will be disqualified. Do not forget.

Look carefully at the fish: Tagged fish with electronic gizmos worth $5,000 are swimming around. They are surgically attached, and one of our biggest sponsors/supporters Pfleger Institute normally pays $200 per returned tag. The first tagged fish brought to the scale during the tourney weigh-in wins a $5,000 award. You do not have to weigh that fish. If you do not, you can keep fishing, but you will be $5,000 richer. There’s also prize drawings for those who contribute to the broodstock WSB collection by Hubbs-Sea World. Call ’em up at Channel 72 before or during the event if you hook and gently net any size fish. They will take anything, and you get good karma marks for doing it.      

Practice your knots: There are cash awards for the Spiderwire Knot Tying Contest!  

Any more questions? Call director Pat McDonell at (949) 366-0030, extension 33, or e-mail him at

Entering the event? Some reminders. The biggest? May 10 is early bird deadline, after the entry per angler jumps $20….  

TWO HARBORS — The 2013 WON/Yamaha Catalina Island White Seabass Championship is back at Two Harbors, and entering as a team is simple. Sign up early and save money and hassle. Here are a few notes on signing up.

— You can sign up by contacting Pat McDonell  at (949) 366-0030, extension 33 or via e-mail at Entry will form will be posted shortly.
— Credit card fees keep us from taking optional jackpot payments online because we pay back 90 percent. We’d lose money on the deal. Sorry. Send a check in the mail, or pay with cash onsite.
— May 10 is the Early Bird entry deadline. Avoid  the $20 per person late fee. For team and optional entries or adding team members, we will accept a personal check received at WON offices before May 10. $100 before May 10, $120 after that, and onsite.
— If deadlines are your Kryptonite, you CAN wait until you get there, sign up your team, add team members and get into optionals. At this point, It’s “cash only” for all entries when on-site checking in, although this year, for the first time, we may allow credit card entries. Note: You will be paying $20 more per person to enter when on-site whether paying by credit card or cash. NO OPTIONALS can be paid by credit card. Sorry.
— There are NO LATE FEES for optional jackpots, just  individual entries. So, add your team members before May 10.
— There’s no limit on the number of team members; the minimum is two people, though, for safety reasons.
— A bank check or credit card payment is required via mail after May 10. No personal checks after May 10.  

First place overall will earn $7,000 in Yamaha cash and sponsors’ prizes, second is $1,500 and prizes, third place earns $1,000 (based on 75 teams) and added last year to give more teams a shot at winning are payouts of  $400 and $300, respectively, for fourth and fifth place.

There will be great prizes in two drawings at the captains meeting after the BBQ on Saturday, and the awards ceremony on Sunday. It all starts Saturday at check-in from 10 a.m. to noon on the beach venue.  

You want contests? You got ’em. There will be a Casting Contest for a Seeker rod and Avet reel combo and Costa  sunglasses, and Knot Tying cash awards for first to third from Spiderwire and its attending rep Bob Hoose. Those are CASH awards, guys.

A big question mark will be live bait.  There will be  several light boats on hand, but there are no guarantees. You might want to embark from a harboir which has live squid in the receiver. Bring fresh dead squid s a backup.  

If you have any questions, feel free to call director Pat McDonell  at (949) 366-0030, extension 33 or via e-mail at If you have a question about your entry fees and payments, call Denise at (949) 366-0030, ext 25 or e-mail her at  
Reader Comments
Be the first to comment!
Leave a Comment
* Name:
* Email:
Website (optional):
* Comment:

Buy a WON Tshirt
The Longfin Tackle Shop