A dropper loop outfit on
just 30-pound line
at Orange Rock at the East End of Catalina
wins the annual event for trio on the Ava Marie.
THE CHAMPS of team No. 8 and the Ava Marie with their 48.8-pound white seabass that won the
annual WON / Yamaha Catalina White
Seabass Championship on Sunday, May 19.
TWO HARBORS – Team Ava Marie won the Catalina White Seabass Championship
on Sunday at Two Harbors by 4 pounds bringing in a 48.8-pound white seabass to
the scale ahead of 44 other teams in a strong but smaller field than usual for
the annual tourney.
Team captain Gary Johnston of
Claremont, Larry Gridley of Pomona and Scott Bucher of San Dimas won $3,000 in first place Yamaha bucks,
a trip to Hotel Rancho Leonero on the East Cape, Reactor Watches, Costa sunglasses and plaques. They did not
enter any of the nine optionals in the event, leaving that money on the table
for several other teams. In total 10 of the 45 teams won money and half of the
field won something in two free drawings.
Angler Scott Bucher landed
the big seabass at Orange Rock on
the east end of the island on a dropper loop with fresh dead squid near the
kelp line. It wasn’t easy.
“The fish got into the kelp
and it took a long time to get it out, but we did. It was only 30-pound line,” he
They edged Team Scally
Wag who did pretty well with a 44.4-pound fish for $1,500 second
place money, took $2,430 in $100 optional money, and another $300 in Spiderwire
money (biggest fish caught on Spiderwire braid line) for total winnings of $4,230. Not bad for a team that calls
itself “Catalina Kooks.” They were
Huntington Beach residents Gregg Warren, Karl Moon and Travis Weaver.
Third place fish was a
35.4-pound white seabass for team 19 on Paddywagon, made up of Jeff Tiffany of Huntington Beach and
Steve Selock of Trabuco Canyon. They won $1,000. Fourth place fish was a 31.7-pound white seabass worth $600
for Team Cazador made up of Hunter
Heatly, Sawyer Jones and Walter Bell.
Fifth place and $300 went to team Dawn Patrol for its 22.4-pound halibut by Frank Rice, angler Rob
Zahr and Kevin Banning. That $300
was supplemented by optional money. Team Dawn Patrol’s fish took $2,430 in the $300 halibut optional for a
ka-ching total of $2,730.
Inbetween all these dispenses
of money were massive amounts of drawings. Avet reels, Seeker rods, Plano
tackle boxes, Helgren’s fishing trips, Seaguar flurocarbon, Owner hooks, Rod
Gaffs, Spiderwire braid, Mustang inflatable vests, a Global fish mount, and
Promar nets. Plus, dozens of goodie bags were assembled to those who weighed in
Of course, when teams checked
in, they got the event hats or beanies by PIER Institute, Owner hook packs and
very cool Spiderwire custom event
shirts from Bob Hoose, and Joe and Dawn Davis of Spiderwire. Because there were
fewer teams in the field, that meant more drawings for those who came, and
particularly that was the case for those 100 or so anglers who stuck around for
the awards ceremony and a barrage of drawings.
As for the other winning
teams in the tourney, while they
did not place on the top 5, they walked away with serious cash in the optional
categories that totaled $16,830 in a 90 percent payback of monies
collected. One such team was the Sweet
Amnesia squad of team 15 (Phil
Gornall, Bill Chance and Ozzie Torruella) that weighed in a 18.4-pound white
seabass that won the $200 and $300 optionals worth $1,800 and $2,700,
respectively, for a total of $4,500. You might say they “took a Chance” by
entering all nine optionals, and
There were several others
that collected cool optional bucks with fish that didn’t place but won them
good money. Team 4 Fish Tales,
made up of Walter, Mike and John Windrum, all from Vista, scored a tiny 9.6-pound yellow and won
the $100 yellowtail optional for $1,530.
The $200 yellowtail optional
worth $900 was claimed by a 9.9-pound fish by Team 42 Ramble
On’s Jason Brooks, Jim Miller and
Ivan Resnikoff. One of the biggest optional wins was by Team True Grit with a $100 halibut optional worth $2,340 for a
16-pound flattie for Mark and Chad McClintock of Santa Barbara.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out by now that
it did not take a huge fish to win serious optional optional. Along that same thought process, a mere
13-pound halibut won the $200 optional worth $1,620 for the Helena team of Calvin Hooper, Frank Sahanas, Sanjay Naidu,
Joe Harrigan, Matt Penkoff and Brandon Wolf.
Only one optional was not
filled. The $300 yellowtail pool of $1,080 will be returned by check by mail to
The weather was not as much
of a factor as predicted, which leads one to wonder after the Catalina White
Seabass Championship, are people talking themselves out of going fishing
because of the internet and its weather and fishing predictions?
The Catalina White Seabass Championship was a one-island event
for the first time and that, coupled with dire predictions of high winds and
seas for the overnight event and generally poor white seabass fishing at the
island, created the second lowest turnout in the tourney’s history, with 45
teams and about 160 anglers. Three
years ago the event had 97 teams in a typical turnout, then the next year the
tourney was delayed two weeks and moved to the coast at Dana Point because Two
Harbors was booked and it drew 35 teams. Last year 67 teams returned.
As mentioned, winds and
higher swell expected in outer waters for the weekend in outer waters and poor
white seabass fishing at the island did not help the turnout. Many teams called to ask if the tourney
would be cancelled due to weather.
“We will not cancel a
tourney, not can we postpone it because Two Harbors is booked every weekend,”
said tourney director Pat McDonell. “Catalina’s weather, we have found, is far
milder than what is generally expected in outer waters. We’ve learned that over
the years. Also, it is a safer event with the all-Catalina format. We had a lot
going against us to have a big turnout, and yet we still drew a great crowd,
and they were aggressive anglers and gamblers in the optionals. Our goal is to host a fair, fun,
organized tournament that is safe. We met that goal and look forward to next
“As for eliminating the coast
and other islands of San Clemente and Santa Barbara, we got nothing but
positive feedback from those who came. People want to fish Catalina, not run to
some other island or fish the coast.
Under the old rules, you could not have won the event without fishing
the coast for 50 and 60 pounders.
The fish are just bigger on the coast. And just to be clear, these rules will not change in future Catalina
The teams that competed
through came to play, and play hard, and were committed financially. The total
payout was $23,230, and of that, $16,830 were in nine optionals.
Staff at the tourney who the
event possible were WON
Advertising Director Chuck Buhagiar, sales rep Ben Babbitt, director and WON Editor Pat McDonell, and volunteer staffers Mike and Karla Packard, Carol Lynn
Collett, Judy Passerello, and Dave and Lori Sachau. Assisting in transporting personnel to the island was Chris
Wheaton in his 36-foot Luhrs, and John Goebel transported the prizes from Dana
Point in his boat Pescador.
WON wishes to thank the following Sponsors: Promar,
Yamaha, Sun Country Marine, Terrafin, Spiderwire (attending were Bob Hoosem
andDawn and Joe Davis), Plano, Rancho Leonero, PIER Institute (Scott Aalbers),
Helgren’s Oceanside Sportfishing, West Coast Marine, Global Fish Mounts, Two
Harbors, Costa sunglasses, Rod Gaff (John Lavarias), Hubbs-Sea World (Mike
Shane), Foodsaver, Avet reels, Seeker rods, San Pedro Bait Co., Mustang
The next WON saltwater jackpot-style team tourney from WON and Yamaha are
a pair of two-day
tournaments, inshore (rockfish/bass)and offshore tuna/yellowtail/dorado), at
the Hotel Coral and Marina in Ensenada on Sept. 5-7. Details at www.wonews.com.
And after that, there is the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot, in its 15th
year, Nov. 6-9. Details at www.loscabostunajackpot.com
or by e-mailing email@example.com.