MARTINEZ — The 7th Annual Diamond Classic catch-and-release sturgeon derby was a great success from every aspect, with a total of 367 adults and 101 youngsters entered this year for the Jan. 26 event, and the winner walking away with over $3,000.
There were a total of 20 legal sturgeon (between 40 and 60 inches from nose to fork in tail) caught, measured and released all over the Delta, based out of Martinez Marina. There were also 6 oversized sturgeon caught and released, three of which were caught by kids.
ROSS BULLER WON first place in the Diamond Classic Sturgeon Derby, and was awarded $3,211.25 and a lazer-cut marble trophy, by Capt. Steve Talmadge, right, originator of the derby.
The derby kicked off with a pre‐derby seminar held at the Martinez Event Center adjacent to La Tapatia restaurant in Martinez where a tasty Mexican buffet was offered for $10. The seminar started off with a presentation by derby founder Steve Talmadge, who discussed the new 2013 regulations regarding Sturgeon fishing. Following that was a Captains panel where 7 of the 16 featured Sponsor Captains answered questions from participants.
Upon hooking up with a fish, participants called for one of the 6 weighmaster assigned to quadrants of the fishing area, which ranged from Carquinez Bridge to Port Chicago Cranes, to Montezuma Slough Bridge. Weighmasters motored to the boat where the angler had hooked a fish and in most cases were there in time to view the fight. Anglers kept the fish in the water in a net while weighmasters handed them a stick, which was colored to assist in the measuring. If the fish was legal-sized, the lucky angler got a ticket in the drawing for the price money, which at $25 per entry and totaled $9,175.00.
Fishing conditions were a little tough Saturday and the weather forecast may have been responsible for a small reduction in the number of adult entries this year. Water temps were 46 – 48 degrees, not ideal for sturgeon fishing. We also had wind, which increased during the day, making some fishing locations unfishable and made for challenging conditions.
Kids entries were free, and new this year, kids were able to enter and fish from the Martinez Pier. Of the 101 kids entered, 8 of them fished from the pier. Other kids who were not otherwise able to fish were the guests of two sportfishing boats, donated by the captains, who took the kids and their parents out fishing for free. Those boats were from Flash Fishing, Captain Steve Talmadge, and Soleman Sportfishing, Captain Don Franklin.
RUSSELL HOUCK, 9 years old, won the Kid’s Division of the Diamond Classic Sturgeon Derby held Saturday, going home with a new rod and t-shirt.
Kids who caught and released a fish (any fish, any size) were given a ticket in the drawing for prizes. To start, 20 tickets were drawn to determine winning kids (1st through 20th). First place received a laser cut marble trophy and one of the top prizes and a special derby shirt, and 2 through 20 also received a top prize and derby shirt. Top prizes were custom rods, an Accurate reel (value $600) and rod/reel combinations. Following that drawing, all kids who caught/released a fish but didn’t get a top prize, were called up to get a prize and a derby shirt. Lastly, the few kids who weren’t lucky enough to catch a fish were called up and given a prize and derby shirt. No kid went home without a prize!
Last came the raffle for great prizes donated by Derby sponsors. Prizes included donated trips from the 16 Sponsor Captains. The raffle prize money goes to reimburse weighmasters for their gas costs and mostly to buy prizes for the Kid’s Division. The Diamond Classic Derby is wholly supported by volunteers, sponsors and raffle proceeds, as 100% of the entry fees are paid
out to Derby winners. Laser‐cut marble trophies were created/donated by Captain Sean Treacy of SF Bay Sportfishing.
The first place winner in the Kid’s Division was Russell Houck, 9 years old, and in second place was Alisha McCullen, then Hunter Land in third, Marcel Jones in fourth, Cody Niford in fifth and Bryce Pons in sixth.
The Adult Division Winners were Ross Buller of Rodeo in first place with a 45-inch sturgeon, bringing him $3,211.25 and a laser-cut marble trophy. Second Place went to Fred Hammond of Stockton and his 45-inch sturgeon, netting him $2,293.75 and a trophy. Third place sent to Dan Roos from Redwood City with a 48-inch sturgeon for $1,835 and a marble trophy.
Winners who walked away with $458.75 were Dave Shimamoto from Grass Valley (55-inch sturgeon) , Kevin Silvan from Vacaville (50-inch sturgeon), Adam Benoit from Vacaville (59 1⁄2-inch sturgeon) and Captain Jason Russey (Longfin Sportfishing) from Richmond (42-inch sturgeon).