Big Fish Challenge

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Monday, July 31, 2017
Wednesday, September 05, 2018
WON Big Fish Update

WON Big Fish Challenge is back for Round 3
Floating weigh stations a key

addition to the 2018 BFC, grand

prizes already bigger than last year

and still growing



WON Staff Writer

SAN CLEMENTE — Three years ago, Western Outdoor News staff put their heads together, determined to create a saltwater fishing competition that puts anglers of all kinds on a level playing field, maximizes participation, has a variety of ways to win, and features incredible grand-prize packages. Oh, and this all had to be with a miniscule registration fee and a simple format.

A short time later, the WON Big Fish Challenge was born, and the third installment of the event that immediately became a favorite among WON readers and supporting sponsors is set to run for 10 weeks starting June 29 and running through Sept. 6.

The idea for an “every man’s” fishing tournament put everyone from private boaters to kayakers to party boat anglers against each other in a 10-week competition for gaudy prize packages. After a successful inaugural season, and an upgraded follow-up, the BFC is back, and even in the planning stages of this one, the grand prizes are more valuable than last year’s, which was nothing to shake a stick at.

In talking to participants, including the winners, the “no brainer” element always comes up. Common denominators are: we are fishing anyway, might as well take a shot at the prizes, it’s only 40 (or less) bucks, I can fish as often as I want and it’s a simple format.

It’s actually even easier this time around with the addition of “floating weigh stations” which are specific sportboats that can officially weigh a Big Fish Challenge worthy fish for registered participants right there on the water. Right off the bat, San Diego’s Prowler, Dominator and Daiwa Pacific as well as Dana Wharf’s Helena jumped all over that opportunity, and that list is sure to grow. If the sportfisher you are loyal to is not a floating weigh station, you need not worry, as official weigh stations are sprinkled all along the Southern California coast, and there is nowhere you can be that is not a short trip from one.

As it stands now, official weigh stations include (from San Diego north) San Diego Marlin Club, Fisherman’s Processing, Dana Landing Market and Fuel Dock, Ken’s Custom Reel in Oceanside, Dana Point Fuel Dock, Balboa Angling Club, Alamitos Bay Fuel Dock, 22nd Street Landing, CISCO’s, Ventura Sportfishing, Hook, Line and Sinker in Santa Barbara and Sea Landing.

As you can see, wherever you’re fishing, there’s an official scale nearby.

Here’s a quick overview of how the event works: anglers visit where signups, rules, prize lists and updated leaderboards can be found for the duration of the event.

Competitors can sign up for any number of species categories for $10 each, or all six for $40. When a possible leading fish in each species category is caught, it can be weighed in at any of a number of convenient weigh stations up and down the coast, and a photo of it being weighed is uploaded to the Challenge site. Weekly updates will appear in the pages of Western Outdoor News, but real time updates will always be available on the website.

Anglers can jump in and register at any time, but obviously your best shot at winning is to do so before it kicks off so you have a full 10 weeks of competition at your disposal.

The biggest fish in each category in each week of the Challenge earns a prize package, and the biggest fish for each species when the dust settles at the end of the 10 weeks scores an incredible grand-prize package, which at this point (it’s still growing) is valued at over $5,200. Put it this way, when grand-prize winners came to WON headquarters to pick up the spoils of victory, they were in trouble if they didn’t come in a truck.

That’s a good, basic overview of the Big Fish Challenge, and it really is that simple.

There were a lot of interesting if not heartbreaking occurrences surrounding the inaugural event. For one, the weekly prize (as well as an overall leader) in the dorado category went unclaimed for weeks, but as reflected in the paper, plenty of local dodos were being caught… by anglers NOT SIGNED UP. Finally, a registered fisherman nabbed a qualifying dorado near the end of the tourney, and it wasn’t even that big.

There was also an angler who won two grand-prize packages when he finished on top of two species categories. So, he got two of everything, which included the cash prize for each species. Throughout that Challenge, there were plenty of leaders losing their top spots only to regain it later, which added to the entertainment value of the whole thing. At times, it went back and forth between the same couple ang­lers for several weeks.

Last summer, in the second running, it played out more along the lines of contending fish being caught early and holding the top spot for weeks if not until the end of the Challenge. And, last year was also dominated by private boaters, but the first installment had mostly sportboat anglers bringing home the bacon along with the kayak winner.

The preliminary prize list is already impressive, and it includes products, service and even cash from supporting sponsors that will either go toward the six grand-prize packages or as part of the weekly prizes that get sent out during the event.

A glance at the grand prize packages (you can see it in detail in the grand prize sidebar) as they stand now shows: $500 cash in prize money from Mercury Marine, who is back as the title sponsor. Grand Prize winners will so receive an Avet reel, Costa sunglasses, a mount of their winning fish by Global Fish Mounts, a Calstar rod, Plano tackle bag, any of a number of overnight trips, a membership, braid and saltwater lures from Yo-Zuri, more lures from Rapala, VIP passes to the next Fred Hall Show, Hi-SEAS fluorocarbon, a year subscription to Terrafin, Gamakatsu hooks, Engel premium hard-side and soft coolers, Fishworks clothing a Lowrance Hook2 fishfinder/plotter, Kill Fish gaffs, Hogan’s Bait and Tackle gift cards and swag, service certificates for Quality Performance Marine, and Studio Abachar is back providing framed pieces for each species category that are Big FIsh Challenege branded.

Again, there are six of these up for grabs and the most it can possibly cost you to get in the running is $40... AND YOU’RE GOING TO FISH ANYWAY!

At this point, the grand prize package has a total value of right around $5,200, and if the first two years of the event are any indication, that number is only going to go up between now and Week 1, if not during the course of the 10-week competition.

Personally, I am a fan of the residual value of the grand prize package. Here are some examples, maybe they will help you see me working.

Obviously, all the gear you win can and will be employed for future Big Fish Challenges. The subscriptions to intel powerhouses Terrafin and 976Bite will immediately make you a next-level saltwater angler with all that insider info, which will only help your chances at repeating next year.

There is also the trophy-case factor. For the rest of your life, you’ll have the framed Abachar piece on the wall identifying you as a former Big Fish Challenge grand prize winner, not to mention the Global Fish mount of your winning beast. Look at those things the same way a retired NFL player looks at his Super Bowl rings. Validation! These are the things angling legends and primo man caves are made of.

Looking back at the first two years of the Big Fish Challenge, it’s played out exactly how the creators had hoped: all inclusive, low maintenance, level playing field and minimal investment and requirements.

It was a very fun event that featured minimal investment for a shot at huge prizes, and anglers of all kinds were on a level playing field. Keep an eye on Western Outdoor News for updates on the event.

WON Big Fish Challenge Grand Prize Packages!

Here’s the beauty of the WON Big Fish Challenge. For just $10 per species or $40 for all six, you could win one or more grand prize packages worth $5,200! That’s right, there are six — one each for yellowtail, white seabass, bluefin tuna, barracuda/bonito, halibut and lingcod. That’s a minimal investment for a potential maximum payout. You’re going fishing anyway. Why not sign up?

Let’s take a look at the highlights of what’s on offer in each grand prize pack. It’s spectacular, and starts with $500 cash in Mercury prize money. Winners also get a Global Fish Mount of their winning fish to hang on the wall. There’s an Avet reel and a CalStar rod. You get a pair of Costa sunglasses. Yo-Zuri is kicking in a fabulous saltwater lure package that includes a dozen of their best baits, plus spools of Yo-Zuri SuperBraid. Engel is providing not one but two premium coolers, one hard-side and one soft. Here’s another wall hanger — a framed Amadeo Bachar print featuring you winning fish species. Plus a Lowrance Hook2 7-inch sonar/chart plotter. It’s a ton. As we’ve said elsewhere, you better bring a truck to haul it all away.

LAST YEAR’S GRAND prize packages waiting to be taken home by each species category winner. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

PRINTS BY STUDIO ABACHAR are species-specific for each grand-prize winner, event branded and a very unique and popular element of the packages. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

CORI HUSBAND SHOWED up in the tuna category almost every week of both runnings of the Big Fish Challenge, so she was a very deserving winner of the tuna category in 2017. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

A SURFACE IRON fired off the Native Sun earned the yellowtail grand prize in 2016 for Ulisses Figueroa.

TWO FOR TEAM SEWER — Jorge Villegas took the 2016 halibut division with this 40-pound flattie, and a 32.4-pound white seabass won him that species category, too. Yes, he got TWO grand prize packages for his effort.

NEIL BARBOUR RAN away with the tuna category in 2016 with a 257.7 pounder that no one came close to beating.

registeringisaREGISTERING IS A PIECE of cake at Just pick your species for $10 each, or go “all in” for all species for the discounted rate of $40.

Check out the current grand prize list:

6 Species - Prize packages for each overall winner Approx. value

Mercury prize money — $500

Quality Performance Marine Service Certificate — $500

Avet Reel — $250

Costa Sunglasses — $250

Global Fish Mount — $750

Calstar Rod — $300

Plano Tackle Bag — $80

Overnight Trips — $250

976-Bite Membership — $150

Yo-Zuri Saltwater Lure Assortment — $200

Yo-Zuri Super Braid, (300 yd. spools), 50-, 65- & 80-lb. — $5

Rapala Saltwater Lure Assortment — $180

Fred Hall Show - (2) 2019 VIP Passes — $40

HI-SEAS Fluorocarbon (Clear & Quattro 20-60-lb.) — $190

Gamakatsu Hooks — $100

Terrafin 1 year Subscription — $100

Engel HD 30 Soft Side Cooler — $199

Engel 80 Qt Cooler — $319

Fishworks Clothing Set — $150

Amadeo Bachar Print — $340

Lowrance Hook2 7” — $599

Kill Fish Gaffs — $80

Hogan’s Bait & Tackle — $75

Winn Grips Overwrap & Grip Sleeves — $48


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