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Big Fish Challenge

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WON Big Fish Challenge: 2019 is in the books!
Three Species categories topped in Week 10

BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — The 2019 WON Big Fish Challenge came to an end last week, closing the book on another installment of the popular “fish whenever you want” event. The final week was no sleeper either, with a few monster fish coming in at the buzzer that claimed the top spots in their respective species categories and secured a grand prize package for each angler.


thomasshinsatoyellowtail
THIS 41.14-POUND YELLOWTAIL was caught in the final week of the annual WON Big Fish Challenge, and it shot Thomas Shinsato to the top of the leaderboard in that species category. He’s now one of six (one per species) grand prize winners.

San Diego angler Neil Barbour stuck a 272-pound bluefin to finish atop the tuna category, and it’s not his first rodeo, having won the grand prize for the same species in the inaugural Big Fish Challenge. This fish ate a popper west of the 9 Mile Bank, and Barbour was fishing out of his own boat, Easy Access. He also turned in a 226 pounder earlier in the summer that stands as the third biggest tuna caught in the 2019 BFC.


Another private boater, Thomas Shinsato, showed up at the official weigh station at Ken’s Custom Reel in Oceanside with a 41.14-pound tanker yellow­tail that put him on the top of that list. The Pacific Beach-based angler caught his winning mossback on a fly-lined sardine.


A 14.8-pound lingcod caught by Bryan Dalton on the final day of the BFC was another last-minute grand prize-winning fish. That ling ate a live mackerel at Catalina and was weighed on the official scale at 22nd Street Landing. That fish was also good for a 2-speed Penn Fathom reel as the biggest ling caught in Week 10.


The leaders in the other species categories that will also pick up huge grand prize package include Jonny Hogan with a 42.88-pound halibut, Zack Scoot with a 59.64-pound white seabass, and Alex Plambeck for the 10.8-pound bonito he caught back in Week 1 and held off all comers for the next nine weeks.


Just to review the basics of how the WON Big Fish Challenge works, anglers of all kinds (sportboat, private boat or kayak) enter as many of the six species categories they want for $10 per species or $40 for all six. The biggest of each scores a weekly prize pack, and the leader when the dust settles after 10 weeks wins a huge grand prize package. Penn Fathom 2-speed reels are also awarded to the biggest of a specific species in select weeks.


To see the full prize lists, photos of the entries each week, and rules so you can hit the ground running for the 2020 WON Big Fish Challenge, visit WONBigFish.com.




WON Big Fish Challenge: Week 9


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — Anglers are currently slugging it out on the water in the final week of the Big Fish Challenge in a push to connect on a last-minute hail mary and bump off one of the leaders in the six species categories. Like Week 8, Week 9 saw some nice fish weighed in, but none that would take over a top spot. That’s par for the course in the stage of the 10-week summer event, but we definitely have had a grand-prize winner come out of nowhere in the last week in the past.


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FORMER BIG FISH CHALLENGE grand prize winner Bennett Salvay with the 8.10-pound lingcod he weighed in during Week 9 of the annual event. This fish is the second-biggest ling caught in the 2019 installment of the BFC.


Highlights of last week’s action include former grand-prize winner Bennett Salvay weighing in a 27.8-pound yellowtail and an 8.10-pound lingcod while fishing aboard his boat, Profishent. The ling will stand as the second-biggest of that species caught in the event, and Salvay will score two weekly prize packages since he caught the biggest of two species in Week 9.


Weekly prize packages will also go to Bryan Dalton for his 38.8-pound white seabass, Daniel Salvay for his 82-pound bluefin and Jonny Hogan for his 25.55-pound halibut. That halibut is also good for a 2-speed Penn Fathom lever drag reel, since Week 9 was tabbed as the week the biggest flattie scored the reel. In Week 10, it will go to the biggest ling.


To see how the BFC works, check out the prize lists, rules and updates so you hit the ground running next summer, visit WONBigFish.com.




WON Big Fish Challenge: Week 8


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — The overall leaderboard in the 2019 installment of the WON Big Fish Challenge went unchanged as those holding the six top spots after Week 7 held off all challengers in Week 8. Anglers are now shooting it out in Week 9 of the 10-week event, and as you can imagine, things are “starting to get real.”


noahandersonyellowtail
IT DOESN’T TAKE much to grab a weekly prize package in the WON Big Fish Challenge. Just ask Noah Anderson who earned his with a 12.6-pound yellow caught aboard the Blackjack.


Looking at a few of the fish turned in this week, there was a 12.6-pound yellowtail caught by young Noah Anderson on a sardine off the San Diego coast. Captain Phil aboard the private vessel, Yo-Yo, showed up at the weigh station at 22nd Street Landing with a 22-pound hali­but, and BFC regular Val Handzus weighed in a 20-pound yellowfin caught during a Seeker-sponsored 2.5-day trip aboard the Poseidon.


None came close to taking the top spot in any of the six species categories, but each was good enough for a weekly prize.


The participant weighing in the biggest halibut in Week 9 will score a 2-speed Penn Fathom Lever Drag reel as well as the standard weekly prize package. In the final week of the BFC, that reel will go to the biggest lingcod registered at one of the official weigh stations.


To check out the leaderboard, prize lists and rules so you can get involved next year in one of our most popular events that features minimal entry fees for a shot at huge prize packages, visit WONBigFish.com.




WON Big Fish Challenge: Week 7


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — Almost every species represented in the WON Big Fish Challenge hit the scale at one of the many official weigh stations in Week 7, but only one can stand as a new category leader.


newlingcod
THE NEW LINGCOD leader in the WON Big Fish Challenge is this 11.25 pounder caught in Week 7 by Tim Buck.

Tim Buck’s 11.25-pound lingcod bumped off the 8 pounder that was holding the top spot, and with only a couple weeks left in the 10-week event, he’s in a pretty good spot to take home one of the six (one for each species category) grand prize packages. Buck was fishing aboard the Mighty Sammy at Catalina when the ling-o-saur hit a live mackerel fished on a dropper-loop. The fish was weighed in at Alamitos Fuel Dock in Long Beach.


Other notable fish weighed in include a 27.8-pound yellow caught by Valerie Hanzus, a 30.8-pound halibut by former BFC grand-prize winner, Gabe Caliendo and a 4.6-pound barracuda caught by Daniel Michel. While none of these fish bumped off a leader, they all scored a weekly prize package for being the biggest of each species weighed in. With Week 7 tabbed as the week the biggest of the bonito/barracuda category will win a Penn Fathom 2-speed reel, it’s going to be pretty sweet for Michel. Not bad for a four-and-a-half-pound barrie.


To jump aboard for the final stretch, see the rules, prize lists and updates, visit WONBigFish.com




WON Big Fish Challenge: Week 6

BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — Week 6 of the annual WON Big Fish Challenge closed with only one of the six category leaders getting bumped off, but it was a biggie. Zack Scott was fishing aboard the Purist out of 22nd Street Landing when he hauled in a 59.64-pound white seabass off the Santa Barbara coast which now stands as the leader in the category.


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THE NEW OVERALL LEADER in the white seabass category is Zack Scott, who weighed in this 59.64-pound white seabass. This one bumped the previous leader by 10 pounds, which had held the top spot since Week 1 of the WON Big Fish Challenge.


That tanker shot past the 49.6 pounder weighed in by former BFC grand-prize winner, Chip Cone, back in Week 1 of the event. There was serious chatter around the WON office suggesting that fish could end up leading wire-to-wire.


There were actually several nice seabass weighed in this week including a 43.6-pound ghost stuck by kayak angler, Bill Gehring. While a vanilla 10.8-pound yellowtail was also weighed in last week, it was the only forkie turned in by a BFC competitor so it was good enough for a weekly prize package. It’s a great example of why participants should always weigh in their catch, even if it won’t contend for a grand prize.


For the final weeks of the BFC (it started in Week 5), a 2-speed Penn Fathom reel will be awarded to the largest qualifying bonito in Week 7, white seabass in Week 8 and halibut and lingcod in Weeks 9 and 10.


For more info, prize lists, registration (you can enter any time and fish whenever you want) and rules, visit WONBigFish.com.




WON Big Fish Challenge: Week 5


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — We’ve passed the halfway point of the WON Big Fish Challenge, and anglers are currently shooting it out in Week 6 with four weeks to go. So far, in the 2019 installment of the popular event, it looks like this year may have more lead changes from one week to the next. Only a couple species categories have had the same leader for multiple weeks.


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THE NEW LEADER in the Big Fish Challenge yellowtail category is Ulisses Figueroa who caught this 33.6 pounder out of L.A. Harbor Sportfishing in Week 5 of the 10-week event.

As of Week 5, there is a new leader in the tuna category. The top spot is now held by BFC regular (and former grand prize package winner) Cori Husband who stuck a 238.4 pounder on a Yummy Flyer deployed at the 43. That fish bumped off the 226 that led after Week 4 which was caught by another former tuna grand prize winner, Neil Barbour.


Husband also briefly led the yellowtail category in Week 5 with a 27.02-pound mossback, but several bigger were weighed in including a 33.6 weighed in by another former BFC grand prize winner, Ulisses Figueroa, who was fishing out of L.A. Harbor Sportfishing aboard the Marsea.


Leaders of the other species categories survived the week, but they are far from safe. For more info, prize lists, registration (you can enter any time and fish whenever you want) and rules, visit WONBigFish.com.




WON Big Fish Challenge: Week 4


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — Week 4 of the WON Big Fish Challenge (BFC) is now in the rear view mirror, and there has been some musical chairs going on among the overall leaders of some species categories.


This includes the tuna category where San Diego angler Neil Barbour shot to the top with a 226-pound bluefin caught board the private vessel, Easy Access. He used a popper to fool that one out at the 9 Mile Bank, and he registered the catch at the official weigh station at Dana Landing. Barbour was the grand prize winner in that category back in the inaugural BFC.


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NEIL BARBOUR WITH the new overall leader in the tuna category in the WON Big Fish Challenge. He won a grand prize in that category in the first running of the event a few years ago.

Jonny Hogan took over the overall lead in the halibut department with a 42.88-pound flattie he stuck while bounce-balling near Tajiguas Beach. He weighed his fish in at Hook, Line and Sinker in Santa Barbara.


After no lingcod were weighed in over the first two weeks of the event, a small one claimed the spot in Week 3 only to be bumped off by new leader Jim Williams who caught an 8-pounder. It’s safe to say that fish isn’t safe to stay, and could be bumped off in short order. It was still good for a weekly prize package, as the top fish registered of each species is every week, so it’s always a good idea to weigh in even if it’s not good enough for the top spot.


We are in Week 5 which is the halfway point of the popular annual event, but anglers can enter at any time. There were certainly late-entrees in recent years that ended up making a strong showing including taking one of six (one per species category) grand prizes. To sign up, see rules, prize lists and leaderboard updates, visit WONBigFish.com.




WON Big Fish Challenge: Week 3


BY PAUL LEBOWITZ

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — Week 3 of the WON Big Fish Challenge has come and gone without much change on the overall leaderboard. The only new addition was an eminently beatable 5.20-pound lingcod. The door is wide open for most of the 6 species categories and it’s not too late to enter to take your shot at one or more $5,000 prize packs on offer for this 10-week contest. Visit WONBigFish.com to sign up or for more information.


corihusbandwho
CORI HUSBAND, WHO won the tuna category of the Big Fish Challenge a few years back, currently leads the yellowtail category with this 24.40-pound forkie.

Before we return to the overall leaderboard, first, the Week 3 catches. The best of the week was Jonny Anderson’s 16.80-pound yellowtail caught on a trolled Rapala at the Coronados, where the forkie bite was stratospheric. Robert Fleek also got into that action with an 11.40-pound yellow he fooled with a blue and green iron.


Adam Larson stopped by the San Diego Marlin Club to weigh an 8-pound-even bonito, caught of course at the Coronados where these little tuna have been mixed in with the yellows.


Next we have that 5.20-pound lingcod, mistakenly previously reported as a Week 2 catch. That was not the case, but in any event this fish — the first weighed in the category — is the current lingcod leader. It was caught aboard the Stardust out of SEA Landing in Santa Barbara by “Seabassman.”


Now, a look at the rest of the overall leaderboard — remember, at the end of 10 weeks, each one of these categories is worth a spectacular $5,000 prize package. Bill Parks still holds the top tuna spot on the strength of his 87.00-pound bluefin caught during Week 2.


Cori Husband’s 24.40-pound yellowtail, also caught during Week 2, continues to lead that category, as does Kyle Tapia’s 14.53-pound Week 2 halibut.


Chip Cone, a past BFC tuna champion, was edged out of the tuna lead in Week 2, but he still holds the white seabass category with a respectable 49.60-pound fish, which could be tough to beat.


Finally, Alex Plambeck is still atop the bonito/barracuda category with his impressive Week 1, 10.80-pound bonito.


The WON Big Fish Challenge leaderboard updates dynamically as new fish are added, so stop by the website at WONBigFish.com and follow the action as it plays out. Several species categories are up for grabs, so remember, entering this 10-week contest that’s only one-third of the way to the finish line is only $10 per species or $40 all-in.


For more information including prize lists, leaderboards, rules and registration, visit WONBigFish.com.




WON Big Fish Challenge: Week 2


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — The door closed on Week 2 of the WON Big Fish Challenge with the top spots in vacant (after Week 1) species categories claimed, and some of the jostling between leading catches that makes this annual, 10-week event so exciting.


We predicted the Week 1 tuna leader would get bumped off in short order, and exactly that happened when Bill Parks weighed in an 87-pound bluefin. Not shy with details, Parks said the tuna was caught off Clemente Ridge on a Dana Wharf Rod and Reel Club 1.5-day charter aboard the Fortune. It ate a fly-lined sardine on a Gamakatsu Nautilus circle hook, and the fight took 40 minutes. Week 1 tuna leader – and last year’s grand prize winner in that category – Chip Cone fell just short with an 83.6 he tamed offshore with a Daiwa Saltist and a Daiwa SP Minnow on the business end. He does still lead in the white seabass column with the one he caught last week that fell just short of the 50 pound mark.


theresanewleader
THERE'S A NEW leader in the WON Big Fish Challenge Tuna category. This 87-pound bluefin was caught by Bill Parks on a 1.5-day trip aboard the Fortune. It won’t be enough to hold the top spot, so get signed up at WONBigFish.com and run him down!


The yellowtail category is now lead by Cori Husband who won the tuna grand prize in the event a few years ago. The forkie she turned in this week is a beatable 24.4 pounds, but it was good for a weekly prize package that goes to the top fish in each of the six categories each week. She also caught a 24.2-pound white seabass this week.


The big halibut in the Challenge is now a 14.53 pounder caught by Kyle Tapia who weighed in for Week 2 at Hook, Line and Sinker in Santa Barbara.


Adam Larson turned in a very respectable 8-pound bonito, but it wasn’t enough to pass up the 10-plus weighed in last week to top the Bonito/Barracuda category that was added prior to the 2018 Big Fish Challenge.


To get involved, visit WONBigFish.com and register, pay the reasonably entry fee ($10 per species, or $40 for all six), read the rules, follow the leader board, check out the prize lists and read the long lists of conveniently-located official weigh stations. Then, you fish when you want, as often as you want. You’re going to fish anyway, might as well take a shot at huge prizes!


For more information including prize lists, leaderboards, rules and registration, visit WONBigFish.com.




WON Big Fish Challenge: Week 1


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — Week 1 of the annual WON Big Fish Challenge (BFC) is in the books, and there have already been a couple catches that will likely stand for a while. On one hand, at least anglers shooting for those species categories know what to gun for, and the rest are still wide open.


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THE WON BIG FISH CHALLENGE is underway and Week 1 is in the books. Chip Cone won the tuna grand prize last year, and he’s already set the bar high in the white seabass category with this tanker.


Captain Chip Cone came out of the gates with a 49.6-pound white seabass that won’t be easy to beat, but the way fishing has been for ghosts lately, plenty of BFC competitors will be able to take their hacks at it. Cone was fishing aboard the Alexandria and registered his catch at Dana Point Fuel Dock, one of many conveniently-located official weigh-in spots along the coast. He was using a Daiwa Saltist 20 paired with a 8-foot, medium-heavy Daiwa Proteus with a squid on the business end when this fish played ball at Catalina. Cone won the grand prize in the event’s tuna category last year.


Another BFC returner, Alex Plambeck turned in a torpedo bonito that tipped the official scale at Dana Point Fuel Dock at 10.8 pounds setting another lofty high-water mark. Plambeck was in Orange County offshore waters and tamed the bonehead with a Daiwa Lexa/Proteus rod setup.





The first entry in the tuna category was a 32.2-pound bluefin hauled aboard the Tomahawk by Tom Donohue and weighed in at H&M Landing. This catch took place during the WON San Diego Offshore Jackpot, and a sardine on 40-pound is what closed the deal. Needless to say, this catch will likely get bumped off as early as Week 2, but Donohue – like each angler with the big fish each week – will receive a weekly prize package along with Cone and Plambeck, and he has the rest of the 10-week event to climb back up the leaderboard.


When the dust settles after Week 10, the angler that caught the biggest fish in each species category will receive an incredible grand prize package. Competitors can fish from sportboats, kayaks, private boats, pretty much anything. You can enter the Big Fish Challenge at any time, but you have the best shot at winning by getting in early. Entry is simple and inexpensive: $10 per species or $40 gets you “all in” for every category, then you just fish when you want.


You’re fishing anyway, so, signing up and taking a shot at great prizes is a no brainer!


For more information including prize lists, leaderboards, rules and registration, visit WONBigFish.com.


alexplambeck
ALEX PLAMBECK TOOK a commanding lead in the bonito/barracuda category that was added last year. This one went 10.8 pounds and was put down with a Daiwa Lexa/Proteus combo.


Game on: The WON Big Fish Challenge starts Friday, June 28
You’re going fishing anyway, so why not join this 10-week long contest with a low entry fee for the chance to win one of 6 grand prize packs valued at more than $5,000? CLICK HERE to sign up.


BY PAUL LEBOWITZ

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — The WON Big Fish Challenge kicks off on Friday, June 28, and it’s your chance to win one of 6 unbelievable prize packs valued at more than $5,000. Entry is just $10 per species or $40 for all 6, and the contest will liven up your fishing for a full 10 weeks of summer primetime.


It’s easy. Once you enter, and it’s not unheard of someone winning who signed up a few weeks in, fish saltwater when and where you want in Southern California. There’s a valuable grand prize pack like something you’d see on a TV game show (they are incredible) for every species category. The species categories are yellowtail, halibut, tuna, lingcod, white seabass, and one combined category, bonito / barracuda.


What’s in the grand prize packages? It’s too long to list, but highlights include $500 cash courtesy of Mercury Outboards, Penn Fathom reels, a Lowrance Elite 7 Ti2, a pair of excellent Engel coolers… You get the idea. In all, every grand prize package is spiked with 20 separate prizes!


When you catch a contender, take it to one of the WON Big Fish Challenge weigh stations located throughout Southern California. The full list of land-based weigh stations is available under the Rules tab at wonbigfish.com. Once you have a photo of you and your fish with its weight, upload it at wonbigfish.com for everyone to see. It makes for a fun, spirited contest.


At the end of 10 weeks, on Sept. 5, the angler who caught the heaviest fish in each species category will win a grand $5,000-plus prize pack! There are weekly prizes too, to spice things up.


For more information or to sign up, visit WONBigFish.com, and do it soon. You won’t want to miss it.


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CATCH FISH, weigh them, win big prizes. That’s the WON Big Fish Challenge. The fun starts Friday, June 28, and it’s only $10 per species or $40 all-in to enter. Sign up at CLICK HERE


WON Big Fish Update
WON Big Fish Challenge Week 9

Final round underway! 


theleadinghalibut
THE LEADING HALIBUT in the WON Big Fish Challenge was caught way back in Week 2!


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — You all really let me down in Week 9. Zero fish of any species weighed in in the second-to-last week of the Big Fish Challenge. What was it? Back to school? Didn’t bother because your fish wouldn’t compete for the overall lead in any of the SIX species categories?


Did you forget about the weekly prize packages that go out for the top fish in each species for the week? Look at it this way, that rat yellowtail, barely-legal barracuda or white seabass, football yellowfin, 2-pound ling or 22-and-a-half inch halibut would have scored you a weekly prize if you would have weighed them in!


Anyway, the final week is now underway and it will all wrap up on Friday, Sept. 6. The leader of each species category at that point will be invited to Western Outdoor News headquarters, hopefully with a truck, to pick up his/her incredible grand prize package and tell us how much they love they event. They always do.


A quick overview of the grand prizes that will be awarded to the six winners — which at this point would include a repeat winner from last year —reveals the following scores: $500 cash from Mercury Out­boards, an Avet reel, Costa sunglasses, a Global Fish Mount of each winning fish, a Lowrance Hook2 unit, Plano tackle bag, an assortment of Rapala lures, HI-SEAS mono and fluoro, a Yo-Zuri lure package, Izorline mono, Gamakatsu hooks, a pair of Fred Hall Show passes, a subscription to 976Bite.com and Terrafin, an overnight trip, Engel hard and soft coolers, Fishworks clothing and gift certificate, an event-branded artist print from Studio Abachar, Kill Fish bamboo gaff, prize pack from Hogan’s Bait and Tackle, $500 gift certificate for Quality Performance Marine and Winn Grips overwraps and grip sleeves.


All for a maximum entry investment of 40 bucks (for all species, otherwise, $10 per species) which covers you for all 10 weeks, when you’re going fishing anyway. It’s the fishing no brainers of all no brainers.


To see how it works and check out the prize lists, visit WONBigFish.com, and be ready to join this incredibly popular event next summer!




WON Big Fish Challenge Update


New lingcod leader after week 8


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THE NEW LINGCOD leader is Ron Folgner who was fishing aboard his own boat, Hot Rail, when he connected with this 18.28 pounder. Folgner is in the driver’s seat in that species category with less than two weeks to go, and he was a grand prize winner last year’s Big Fish Challenge.


 

BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — Didn’t everyone assume Week 8 would be the “the week of the lingcod?” With late-summer surface fishing making all the headlines, a couple big lingies dominated the second-to-last week of the 3rd Annual WON Big Fish Challenge.


WON Charter regular Wade Wells leapt into the top spot in the lingcod species category with a 10 pounder he caught aboard the Stardust out of Sea Landing. His spot atop the totem pole didn’t last for long, as former Grand-Prize winner Ron Folgner popped an 18.28-pound ling-o-saur aboard his own boat, Hot Rail. He was using a mackerel on a dropper loop along the Santa Barbara coast, and he weighed his fish in at Hook Line and Sinker.


Another solid fish hitting an official scale in Week 9 was the 23-pound halibut caught by a BFC participant who fished a private boat off Marina del Rey. Well short of the 42-pound leader in the halibut category that was caught back in Week 2, but he’ll score a nice weekly prize package for the biggest fish in a category for the week.


We are in the home stretch of this popular 10-week summer event, but if you are fishing the salt any time in the next weekend and want to get in and attempt a Hail Mary at the buzzer (it’s happened in previous Big Fish Challenge events), you can get in there for only a few bucks.


To register, check the leaderboard, read rules and the prize lists and submit a catch (once you’ve entered), visit WONBigFish.com.




WON Big Fish Challenge Update

Overall leaders rest easy after Week 7


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THIS 24.10-POUND YELLOW caught by Alex Plambeck was not enough to bump off the leader in that species category, but he will score a weekly prize package for that fish. Just two weeks left!


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — In a bit of a shock, no anglers participating in the 3rd Annual WON Big Fish Challenge bumped any of the overall leaders atop any of the six species categories in Week 7. Maybe everyone is trying to get on dorado while the gettin’s good? Regardless, the overall leaders certainly didn’t mind not sweating it out for a few days, but Week 8 is currently underway, and they might not be safe for long.


The biggest fish registered for Week 7 was a 24.10-pound yellow­tail ripped from a San Clemente Island kelp paddy by private boater Alex Plambeck. Not enough to unseat the 35.4-pound leader, but good enough for a nice weekly prize package. Plambeck weighed in his fish at the Dana Point Fuel Dock.


Another private boater, Mike Bardin turned in a 17.25-pound forkie at Ken’s Custom Reel in Oceanside. He caught that one on a paddy of his own off North San Diego County, and he fooled the fish with a sardine fly-lined on 30-pound P-Line.


We are in the home stretch of this popular 10-week summer event, but if you are fishing the salt any time in the next two weeks and want to get in and attempt a Hail Mary at the buzzer (it’s happened in previous Big Fish Challenge events), you can get in there for only a few bucks.


To register, check the leaderboard, read rules and the prize lists and submit a catch (once you’ve entered), visit WONBigFish.com.




WON Big Fish Challenge Week 6


Long-standing bonito/barracuda leader bumped off


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THE NEW LEADER in the bonito/barracuda species category is Bennett Salvay who used a Yo-Zuri plug to troll up this offshore bonito. The previous leader of the category had stood at the top of the list since Week 1.


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — Another week, another new overall leader in a species category as Week 6 of the WON Big Fish Challenge is in the books. Anglers are already battling in Week 7, and there is still time to register and take part in the last few weeks of this popular “every man” fishing event.


There was only one new overall leader this week, but it’s a significant one since the same angler has held the top spot since Week 1. Skyler Fabozzi’s 7.94-pound barracuda was entered in the first week of the 2018 Challenge, and it was recently bumped off by the 8.2-pound bonito weighed in at CISCO’s by Bennett Salvay. He has been very active in this third installment of the Big Fish Challenge, and he caught this bonehead while trolling Yo-Zuri plug offshore from his boat, Profishent. The bonito/barracuda species category is a new slot added for this summer’s 10-week event.


Other notable submissions in Week 6 include a 26-pound halibut landed by BFC-veteran Scott Sawa who took home a grand prize in the inaugural event. He caught this flatty in Santa Monica Bay and weighed it in at 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro, and he will receive a weekly prize pack for catching the biggest fish in a species category.


A 13.6-pound yellowtail caught by angler “Gary” aka “TeamFunHunt3” didn’t have a chance to reach the top of the yellowtail totem pole, but as the big yellow for the week, he will get a prize pack as well. He also stuck a 23.4-pound halibut that was second only to Sawa’s big flattie.


Anglers can enter the WON Big Fish Challenge at any time during the event. Of course, the earlier the better as it gives you more time. To register, check the leaderboard, read rules and the prize lists and submit a catch (once you’ve entered), visit WONBigFish.com. Signing up is easy, inexpensive, and a no brainer if you are fishing salt­-water anyway!





WON Big Fish Challenge Week 5

New seabass and lingcod leaders at event’s halfway point


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THE NEW WHITE SEABASS leader is Corey Scott who weighed in this 48.1-pound fish in Week 5. There is also a new lingcod leader. Visit WONBigFish.com for leaderboards, prize lists, rules and registration.


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — It seems like each installment of the annual 10-week WON Big Fish Challenge has its own characteristic separating it from the others. We’ve just closed the book on the Week 5 midway point of the 2018 Challenge, and it feels like its specific attribute is a new overall leader (or multiple) almost every week.


The lingcod top spot was destined to go down after a new leader showed up at the end of Week 4 with a measly 4 pounder weighed in by BFC veteran, Scott Sawa. The new ling-o-saur high-water mark was set in Week 5 when Jim Williams crushed the Sawa fish with the 18-pound model he stuck at Catalina on a live mackerel. He weighed in his fish at 22nd Street Landing. Week 5 was tabbed as the lingcod week in terms of which angler scored an Avet reel to go along with a weekly prize package for his catch, so Williams’ catch was well tied.


The white-seabass overall leader has been bumped off in each of the last three weeks. In Week 5, Corey “Seabass Man” Scott was fishing aboard the Stardust out of Sea Landing at the Channel Islands when he knuckled down on a 48.1-pound tanker, beating the previous leader which was a respectable 45.9-pound ghost.


Another notable fish hitting one of the many official Big Fish Challenge weigh stations was a 134-pound bluefin tuna weighed in by Alex Plambeck at Dana Landing. His fish fell well short of the 182.2-pound leader in the tuna category, but he’ll receive a nice weekly prize package for his efforts.


Anglers can enter the WON Big Fish Challenge at any time during the event. Of course, the earlier the better as it gives you more time. To register, check the leaderboard, read the rules and the prize lists and submit a catch (once you’ve entered), visit WONBigFish.com. Signing up is easy, inexpensive, and a no brainer if you are fishing salt­-water this summer anyway!




Big Fish Challenge Week 4:


Three new overall leaders set eyes on grand prizes


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THE NEW LEADER IN THE TUNA category is Charles Cone with this 182.2 pounder he caught in Week 4. Grand prizes go to the top fish in six categories after the 10-week event, half of which is still in front of us. See rules, prize lists and registration info at WONBigFish.com.


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — The fourth week of the 10-week WON Big Fish Challenge is in the books, and that round featured a new leader in half of the six species categories.


Charles Cone’s kite-caught 182.2-pound bluefin blew away the previous leader and put Cone in the driver’s seat for the grand-prize package in that category with five weeks to go in the Challenge. He caught the fish on the private boat, Afishionado and registered it at Dana Point Fuel Dock.


A winner in the inaugural Big Fish Challenge two years ago, Scott Sawa took the lead last week with a 5-pound lingcod caught off his kayak on a live mackerel in Santa Monica Bay before weighing in the fish at 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro. A decent fish, but it’s safe to say a bigger one is going to be caught sooner than later.


In the competitive white seabass category, a 45.90-pound tanker eclipsed the existing leader by less than a pound and moved angler Tyler Grossi to the top spot. That was a dropper-loop fish caught in the Santa Barbara Channel.


Bennett Salvay holds the top spot in the yellowtail category with a 35.4, and he turned in a 29.6 in Week 4 which was the biggest forkie that round, so he’ll be sent a weekly prize package for that. Those prizes go to the biggest of each species, each week.


The leader in the Bonito/Barracuda species category has stood since Week 1 of the Challenge, and that’s a 7.94-pound barrie caught by Skyler Fabozzi. A respectable but beatable specimen, but if anybody might be running away with this thing early, it could be kayak angler Jorge Villegas who set the high-halibut mark with a 43-pound flattie he caught back in Week 2.


We have now reached the half-way point of the WON Big Fish Challenge with sportboat guys, kayak anglers and private boaters shooting it out in Week 5 right now. Over the first two years of the event, the overall leaders changes hands plenty of times.


Anglers can enter the WON Big Fish Challenge at any time during the event. Of course, the earlier the better as it gives you more time. To register, check the leaderboard, read rules and the prize lists and submit a catch (once you’ve entered), visit WONBigFish.com. Signing up is easy, inexpensive, and a no brainer if you are fishing salt­water this summer anyway!




WON Big Fish Challenge


Week 3 update


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THE NEW YELLOWTAIL leader in the WON Big Fish Challenge is this 35.4 pounder caught by Bennett Salvay at the Channel Islands.


SAN CLEMENTE — Week 3 of the Big Fish Challenge is in the books, and it featured a couple new overall leaders and a fish that missed the top spot by a half pound. The white seabass category has been the one to watch, with the leader changing several times per week thus far. Anglers are already out there shooting it out in Week 4.


Corey Scott became the new overall leader in the white seabass category with a 45.3-pound tanker he caught off the Santa Barbara coast off the private boat, Purist. That has been a hotly-contested species category where WON readers have seen the top spot occupied by a 19 pounder, then a 28.5 in the first couple weeks of the Challenge. That being said, and given the fact that we are in the midst of Week 4 as you read this, it looks like there is already a new white seabass leader coming up.


Now that’s just the word and it’s not official yet, but, for what it’s worth, he and all the anglers registering the top fish in each species will be getting a nice weekly prize package, and that is the case for the duration of the 10-week event.


The yellowtail category also has a new leader. Bennett Salvay stuck a 35.4-pound mossback that bumped off the 32 pounder weighed in by kayak angler Chris Blevins in Week 2. Salvay was fishing the outer Channel Islands with a live squid aboard Profishent and he weighed the fish in at CISCOS. He will also score an Avet reel with the biggest yellow caught in Week 3. In Week 4, the Avet will go to the top fish in a different category.


Also aboard Profishent in Week 3 was Daniel Salvay who weighed in a 42.4-pound halibut that fell just over a half-pound short of the 43 pounder caught by Big Fish Challenge regular Jorge Villegas in Week 3. A heartbreaking scenario, but Salvay will score that weekly prize, and it looks like he spends plenty of time on the water and can do a lot of damage with more than half of the event still ahead of him. A kayak angler, Villegas sat atop two species categories when the dust settled on the inaugural Big Fish Challenge earning him a pair of grand prize packages.


A reminder, anglers can enter the WON Big Fish Challenge at any time during the event. Of course, the earlier the better as it gives you more time. To register, check the leaderboard, read rules and the prize lists and submit fish (once you’ve entered), visit WONBigFish.com. Signing up is easy, inexpensive, and a no brainer if you are fishing saltwater this summer anyway!




WON Big Fish Challenge Week 2


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BACK AT THE TOP — Jorge Villegas, winner of the 2016 white seabass and halibut categories, has staked a strong claim towards repeating his halibut win with this beautiful 43 pounder.


BY PAUL LEBOWITZ

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — A familiar face has vaulted to the top of the halibut leaderboard as the race for the top spot in six species categories enters its third week.

Before we get to that, there’s still plenty of contest left. The WON Big Fish Challenge runs through September 6. It’s only $10 per species to enter, or $40 for all six categories. The prize packs are worth more than $5,000. There’s one for each species category. They have to be seen to be believed. Sign up! You’re going fishing anyway.


Back to that familiar face and a recap of the week 2 action that spanned July 6 to July 12. Kayak angler Jorge Villegas, winner of the halibut and white seabass categories in 2016, weighed a hefty 43-pound halibut at 22 nd Street Landing. It was caught in Santa Monica Bay using a live mackerel. Villegas is back in a familiar place, leading the category.


The largest yellowtail of week 2 was another nice fish, a 32-pound yellowtail caught by kayak angler Chris Blevins at La Jolla using a live mackerel, taking a huge lead.


Ed Uchio topped the bonito / barracuda division for week 2 with a 7.6-pound skinny caught at the Horseshoe while trolling a live sardine. Skyler Fabozzi still leads the overall the contest with a 7.94-pound barracuda.


It didn’t take much of a lingcod to win the week. Ulisses Figueroa weighed in a 4 pounder caught on a dropper looped live sardine. It is the category leader in the clubhouse, but could be surpassed any time.


Bennett Salvay caught the heaviest white seabass of week 2, a 19.2 pounder landed at the outer islands using live squid on a sliding sinker rig. It leads the overall contest.


No tuna were weighed in for week 2, meaning week one’s 23 pounder is still in the lead.


For more information including prize lists, leaderboards, rules and registration, visit WONBigFish.com.




WON Big Fish Challenge Week 1


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THE WON BIG FISH CHALLENGE is underway with nine weeks to go. Skyler Fabozzi is a participant, and he weighed in this 11.4-pound white seabass at Hook, Line and Sinker in Santa Barbara to take the early lead in that species category. Sportboat, kayak and private boat anglers can sign up for the Challenge at any time during the 10-week event, but getting in early increases your odds. Visit WONBigFish.com for more information and to sign up.


BY MIKE STEVENS

WON Staff Writer


SAN CLEMENTE — The 3rd annual WON Big Fish Challenge is off and running, and opening week had official entries in the tuna, yellowtail, halibut and in the new bonito/barracuda category, but they were all weights that will likely be beaten over the next two months of the Challenge.


Still, anglers only need to submit the largest fish of each of the six species in each week to score a nice weekly prize, and it usually doesn’t take a monster to do exactly that!


Currently, the weekly prize boxes include a tournament t-shirt from Fishworks, Hi-SEAS fluorocarbon leader wheels, Gamakatsu hooks, Big Hammer swimbaits and the very popular Winn Grips rod wraps.


It being the first week, the leaderboard was populated with multiple catches, including a pair from Skyler Fabozzi, who now leads in the white seabass category (11.4 pounds) as well as in the bonito/barracuda (7.94 pound ’cuda). A very beatable 6.5-pound yellowtail caught by Kaden Caliendo aboard Aqua Pazza took the weekly prize for that species, but you can bet on a new yellowtail leader as early as Week 2.


When the dust settles after Week 10, the angler that caught the biggest fish in each species category will receive an incredible grand prize package. Competitors can fish from sportboats, kayaks, private boats, pretty much anything. You can enter the Big Fish Challenge at any time, but you have the best shot at winning by getting in early. Entry is simple and inexpensive: $10 per species or $40 gets you “all in” for every category, then you just fish when you want.


You’re fishing anyway, so, signing up and taking a shot at great prizes is a no brainer!


For more information including prize lists, leaderboards, rules and registration, visit WONBigFish.com.


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



TO ENTER, CLICK HERE


BY MIKE STEVENS

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 WONbigfish.com 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 976Bite.com 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.


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


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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


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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

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


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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.


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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 WONbigfish.com. 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


TO ENTER, CLICK HERE


Mercury BIG FISH CHALLENGE

Don't be left out, signup today for The Big Fish Challenge


bigfishchallenge.com


Visit the event website to join the fray – sign up for one, or all six species


The second annual WON Big Fish Challenge presented by MERCURY OUTBOARDS lunged out of the starting gate Friday (June 30) at midnight, the first of 10 weeks of competition up and down the coast for the biggest saltwater game fish Southern California has to offer. With beastly bluefin right outside our backdoor, the timing couldn’t be better.

The event website,"WONBigFish.com"  is up and running and it’s a breeze to enter the Challenge. Just click on the ‘Enter Big Fish Challenge’ tab on the home page and add each species ($10 per species) you want to fish for to your shopping cart, or go “all-in” for all six species for $40. The six eligible species are tuna, yellowtail, white seabass, dorado, lingcod and halibut, so take your pick or target ’em all!

 Once you’ve created a user name and password and paid your entry fee, you’re good to go for the duration of the 10-week event. Submitting your catch is also a no-brainer. Just click on the “Submit a Fish Weight” icon in the upper right hand corner of the webpage and upload your photo (the higher resolution the better). Enter your fish weight and select your species, weigh-in location and the week of competition you caught the fish. Enter your full name, hometown, boat name, and the date and location the fish was caught or any other details you’d like to add about your catch, then click on the “Save” icon. That’s it, you’ve made your submission and are in the running for the Challenge!

Check back in at "https://wonbigfish.com" as often as you’d like to scope out the competition and all of each week’s catches to see how your fish stacks up. Weekly prize packages will be awarded for the biggest fish in each of the six species divisions, with grand champion prize packages worth $5,700 going out for the biggest of each species at the end of the 10-week Challenge.

So get in on the action and secure your spot in the Big Fish Challenge. Let the games begin...

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