Lake Havasu Striper Derby - May 16-17, 2020

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018
2018 WON Lake Havasu Striper Derby

WON’s 34th annual Striper Derby highlighted by massive 36-plus pounder
80-pound two-day weight is the magic mark

ANOTHER LOOK AT the hulking 36.15 pounder caught by Bryan Williams.

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — The exclamation mark of the 34th annual Western Outdoor News Striper Derby came in the early going of the two-day event, just an hour or so after the scales initially opened and only about 20 teams having weighed in. Regular Striper Derby angler, Bryan Williams of Long Beach, hopped off the bow of the boat at the London Bridge Resort slips with a bulging kill bag, landing with a heavy thud on the dock as Willliams was all smiles. “Oh, Billy. You’re gonna like this,” he excitedly told tournament director Billy Egan.

The zipper of the kill bag was drawn down, revealing an eye-popping behemoth of a striper that consumed the majority of the bag and going nearly four feet in length with a massive belly. Passersby oohed and aahed as Williams hoisted the huge fish up for a photo op session while fellow Striper Derby competitors stopped in clear admiration of the tanker lineside.

THE GREGOR EAGLE custom “Low Boy” 16-foot aluminum grand raffle prize boat ended up with Striper Derby angler and Lake Havasu City local Gerald Riley.

“The fish was ripping off line and we had to pull anchor to go chase her,” Williams said. “When we finally got it in the net we were about a quarter mile from where I hooked her.”

The huge striper ultimately tipped the scales at 36.15 pounds, marking the biggest fish in the last decade of the Striper Derby, and maybe the biggest ever in the history of the event – WON’s I-Team is currently digging through the record books to verify if it is indeed the largest in the Derby’s archives. With six more fish in his bag, Williams’ day-one total weight hit 54.52 pounds.

The quality of the fishing at Lake Havasu was once again rock solid overall for a second straight year, with numbers there to match – about 500 more striped bass than at last year’s event and nearly 4,000 total pounds of stripers weighed in when all was said and done.

Williams had a tougher go of things on day two, opening the door for eventual Striper Derby champs, team 32 consisting of Russell Nievar and George Delgatto, who posted an 80.70-pound two-day total weight to dethrone back-to-back champions Stefan Orebo and Gregg Waggoner and take the top spot in 2016. The title was hotly contested, with 11 teams clearing the 70-pound mark. In second and missing first place by less than 2 pounds was the father-son team of Bob and Daniel Jones, of which dad Bob has attended each and every edition of Striper Derby since its inception in 1982. Less than a pound behind the Jones’ was Bill McFarland and Steve Methey, who ended up taking this year’s bronze medal.

FIRST-PLACE TROPHIES went to Team 32, Russell Nievar and George Delgatto, who compiled 80.70 pounds of stripers over the two days to take top honors in the event, scoring an Alaska fishing trip with Big Blue Charters, pairs of Costa Sunglasses, Okuma EVX rods and Helios reels, among other prizes.

The awards ceremony put its usual stamp on the event, with the grand raffle prize of a Gregor Eagle “Low Boy” aluminum and Mercury 60hp motor package capping a prize-laden conclusion to the festivities. After loads of raffle prizes, blind bogey cash and Big Fish money was doled out – there wasn’t much surprise on that front – it was Lake Havasu City local Gerald Riley who had his lucky number called for the custom Gregor.

“This is just great,” Riley said. “Amazing. I wasn’t even going to fish the Derby until my brother talked me into it. Winning the boat is just unbelievable.”

With the 2016 Striper Derby in the books, attention now turns to the ceremonial 35th installment of the two-day competition in May of 2017. By all accounts and observations, the health of Havasu’s striper fishery is most certainly on the upswing and the future of the long-running Striper Derby looks bright indeed. Look for the full feature story of the 2016 in next week’s issue of WON.

THE BIGGEST STRIPED BASS in years (and perhaps ever) was landed at this year’s Lake Havasu Striper Derby, a whopping 36.15-pound lineside caught by Bryan Williams of Long Beach that crushed the competition in Big Fish pools at the event. The monster was caught upriver on cut anchovy.


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