Team Profish wins $3,720 and Rickdiculous scores $3,040 to pace big winners; Team Its 4 Reels takes home $5,000 Coral Blind Bogey
A STEADY PARADE of boats arrived at the dock to unload. Blair Lechtenberg and Sonia Haas, Castaic, Calif., on Salty Jack had three yellowtail, the largest being a 22-pound, 3-ouncer caught on an Avet reel that Sonia (one of only two lady anglers in the tournament) had won in the Friday night raffle.
ENSENADA — The gentle breeze confirmed it. The most-recent weather report promised a let-up from the relentless winds that had been blowing for several weeks. And the colorful sponsor banners that were hung on Friday morning confirmed it.
Everything was in place for the 2012 WON/Yamaha/ Hotel Coral Saltwater Championships.
Staff and volunteer optimism grew as decorated tables were piled high with raffle prizes donated by a long list of sponsors — prizes to be given out during the Captains’ meeting on Friday as well as Saturday’s Awards ceremony.
One team member standing in front of the display of raffle prizes turned to his buddies and said, “Man, I would come for the raffle alone! I can’t wait to see if I win an Avet reel this year!” Others around him agreed. As it turned out, by the end of the event more than 40 participants were raffle prize winners with most taking home multiple items.
ONE TEAM MEMBER standing in front of the display of raffle prizes turned to his buddies and said, “Man, I would come for the raffle alone! I can’t wait to see if I win an Avet reel this year!” Each team captain rec3eived a special welcome Captain’s Bag, with a Yo-Zuri Sashimi lure, a $15 value. The lures got rave reviews from the angers. Each angler got Yo-Zuri line, an event hat from the Coral Marine Store, a Yamaha hat, shirt and packs of Mustad hooks.
As the pre-registered teams began to arrive mid-afternoon on Friday, WON Tournament team veterans greeted one another and mixed with newcomers at the registration tent overlooking the fuel dock next to the weigh-station. They debated which jackpots to enter and cautiously swapped recent fishing information with other teams. The number of teams taking advantage of the early-bird registration was similar to preceding years. There were many familiar faces, with teams returning to enjoy camaraderie and fun they had experienced in the previous years. Unfortunately, because the winds had blown for several weeks, many of the local teams who normally sign up on the day of the event, decided not to compete.
Throughout the afternoon, music blared, enthusiasm grew, and the bar set up at the entrance did a brisk business as friends once again swapped past years’ fishing tales. The casting contest drew a crowd for the heated competition with a brand new Avet casting outfit the prize. Casters were given one practice cast and one try at the target. There was ample criticism and encouragement for each contestant, with plenty of hooting and hollering when the caster back-lashed the reel.
Hitting the target was tough and casters had to adjust their casts to compensate for the brisk winds from the west, which had begun to strengthen throughout the afternoon. Finally, it came down to a cast-off between Chris Ortiz, Team 15; and Richard Beswick, Team 11. Ortiz, won the casting outfit by one foot!
THERE WAS AMPLE CRITICISM — and encouragement — for each Avet Casting Contest contestant, with plenty of hooting and hollering when the caster back-lashed the reel. Ortiz, Team 15, won the casting outfit by one foot!
Tournament Director Pat McDonnell welcomed all the Captains, team members and guests at the Captains’ meeting, promising fun on land and water. He complimented the Coral Hotel and Marina for the new venue that allowed both the weigh-station and activities tent to be together in the same area. He also expressed his gratitude to the many event sponsors including Baja Naval, $700 gift certificate, local marine store Agencia Arjonas’ 100 T-Shirts, Marina Coral Marine store, special tournament event hats for all the angler welcome bags, Yamaha hats, Mustad Hooks, Avet Reels, Plano, Seaguar, Yo-Zuri special Sashimi 3D Magnum and Hotel and Marina Coral.
TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR Pat McDonell welcomed all the captains, team members and guests at the Captains’ Meeting, promising fun on land and water.
McDonnell cautioned that the reports from arriving boats indicated the ocean was grumpy and everyone should take care, reminding each team that they had a shot at the money as long as they catch even one yellowtail or tuna. It would be a big mistake not to weigh in one of those two fish regardless of size.
Hotel and Marina Coral donated $5,000 for the Blind Bogey. Like all Blind Bogeys, a weight randomly with each angler submitting a possible ticket with a winning weight and type of fish. One ticket would be chosen at the Captains’ meeting in a secret drawing. The team that weighed in a tuna or yellowtail with that weight known only to the director would win the $5,000. In case of a tie, there would be a drawing for the sole winner. If no fish with the exact weight was weighed-in, the two closest teams, the one just under the weight, and the one just above the weight, would be in a two-team drawing.
McDonell closed the meeting by wishing everyone good luck fishing and reminding the Captains that the tournament staff along with the Tecate girls would be waiting at the scales on Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m.
After filling their bait tanks with fresh sardines and mackerel, many of the teams wisely decided to head out to their secret spot that night, allowing plenty of time to cruise out at a comfortable, slower speed.
Saturday afternoon, the weigh-in station was manned early. Weight slips were ready to be filled out and the scales were checked and rechecked for accuracy long before the first boat returned. Spectators gathered to watch as lots of yellowtail and fewer tuna were wheeled up the dock . . . all under the watchful eyes of the Tecate Girls – Cindy Villegas and Evelyn Hidalgo from Tijuana. Both Cindy and Evelyn are Cheer Leaders for Tijuana’s Xolos Soccer team, one of the most popular teams in Baja. Their outfits were team colors…red and black. This was their first time to attend a sportfishing event and they cheerfully posed with all the lucky anglers who weighed-in qualifying fish.
A steady parade of boats arrived at the dock to unload. Blair Lechtenberg and Sonia Haas, Castaic, Calif., on Salty Jack had three yellowtail, the largest being a 22-pound, 3 ouncer caught on an Avet reel that Sonia (one of only two lady anglers in the tournament) had won in the Friday night raffle. Somehow in the excitement of unloading the fish and tackle, Blair dropped the rod and new Avet reel over the side. He dredged with a large treble hook for a half- hour before he managed to snag and recover his submerged outfit!
When the scale closed at 6 p.m., there had been 26 qualifying yellowtail, the largest 23.8 pounds and three tuna with the largest 27.3 pounds.
WHEN THE SCALE closed at 6 p.m., there had been 26 qualifying yellowtail, the largest 23.8 pounds and three tuna, with the largest 27.3 pounds, seen here, caught by the Rickdiculous which earned $1,000 for winning the Yamaha Big Fish Contest.
While everyone acknowledged the seas were rough and it was tough fishing, they all had stories of larger fish lost among their good catches. One winner, Mike Ricigliano, winner of the yellowtail division commented, “When we found the kelp patties we nailed ’em on sardines. Then we caught a few on lures; we had a dozen in the 18-pound range and three or four in the 10-pound range.”
After a great carne asada buffet — Mexican comfort food — Pat McDonnell thanked sponsors, staff, and volunteers who had helped produce the event before he went on to the awards and raffles.
AFTER A GREAT CARNE ASADA BUFFET — Mexican comfort food — director Pat McDonell thanked sponsors, staff, and volunteers who had helped produce the event before he went on to the awards and raffles.
Excited chatter could be heard throughout the room and if you listened carefully, you could hear various comments coming from the tables. "I feel lucky tonight! We are going to win something . . .” and “Look at the pile of raffle items left on the table. Looks like there’s enough for all of us to take home something.” One table of participants, who had probably started early, was chanting, “Don't stand around, buy us a round!” They seemed delighted to be on dry land and were definitely ready to party; it was obvious the grumpy seas had not dampened anyone's spirit.
Half the teams brought fish to the scales, filling the three slots in the Tuna and Yellowtail divisions with up to three fish (combined) and six single fish for the $100, $200 and $300 tuna and yellowtail optionals.
The top team on Profish, John Leonard, Phillip Faubert, Arthur Anderson and Vance Boucher, with two bluefin weighing 17.4 and 11.6 pounds won the Tuna Division prize of $1,000; plus the three yellowtail optionals with a 23.8 pounder worth $2,560, for a total $3,720.
THE TOP TEAM on Profish, John Leonard, Phillip Faubert, Arthur Anderson and Vance Boucher, with two bluefin weighing 17.4 and 11.6 pounds won the Tuna Division prize of $1,000; plus the three yellowtail optionals with a 23.8 pounder worth $2,560, for a total $3,720.
The top money winner from last year, Team Rickdiculous, in spite of rough seas, headed out to the 238 Spot capturing a 27.3-pound bluefin that secured them the $1,000 Yamaha Big Fish Award, along with $600 for Tuna Division’s second place award, and another $1,440 for the three single-fish tuna optionals totaling $3,040. The team included Captain Rick Windbigler, Jim Dragoo, Nathan Whitney, Richard Beswick, Matthew Whitney and Steve Honn.
THE TOP MONEY winner from last year, Team Rickdiculous, the team included Captain Rick Windbigler, Jim Dragoo, Nathan Whitney, Richard Beswick, Matthew Whitney and Steve Honn.
Captain Rick proclaimed, “We fish all the WON Tournaments except Los Cabos Tuna Tournament. This year we may enter that one as well.”
Team Lady Grace with Robert McNerney, Mike Ricigliano and Mark Lewis won the Yellowtail Division with three yellows at 53.2 pounds for $1,000. Mike Ricigliano expressed his thanks and surprise. “The prize money was a bonus; we would have come just for the raffle.”
Second place Yellowtail Division winner was the team of John Soria, Louie Prieto and Eric Spalding with three yellows for a total of 41.8 pounds winning $600.
The randomly selected weight for the Blind Bogey prize of $5,000 was 20-pounds, 2-ounces. Two teams competed as they were the closest to that weight and were entered into a two-team drawing: Louie Prieto’s 4-pack charter boat, Its 4 Reels caught a 19.7-pound yellow and Team 8 which weighed-in a 20.9 pounder. Marina Coral Manager Fito Espinsosa drew the ticket and Prieto’s Its 4 Reels, nabbed the $5,000 Hotel Coral Blind Bogey. Sr. Espinsosa made the check presentation on behalf of the hotel, providing the cash award. “We fish this event every year and are richer for not turning back because of the weather,” Prieto said.
Another returning team Blackjack with Mike Kraus, Ed Day and Juan Cordona caught two yellows weighing 40.7 to finish third in that division for $400.
Edgar Sanchez, Marina Coral Marine store, observed that the strong winds and rough conditions affected the turnout of many of the locals who normally compete. His assistant, Mariana Hammann, noted that, “The ongoing FMM situation is confusing and has certainly impacted the number of boats arriving from California that would normally have participated in the tournament this weekend.”
But, in spite of the weather, the comments coming from the teams leaving the activities tent loaded down with raffle prizes, their winnings and smiles on their faces echoed the famous words of Sylvester Stallone: “I'll be back.”
Team 4 Profish
John Leonard, Phillip Faubert, Arthur Anderson, Vance Boucher
2 bluefin tuna of 17.4 and 11.6 pounds for 29.2-pound total. First place in Tuna Division, $1,000
1 yellowtail of 23.8 pounds, sweeping the three yellowtail options for $1,280, $960 and $480 for $2,560.
Total winnings, $3,720
Team 11 Rickdiculous
Rick Windbigler, Jim Dragoo, Nathan Whitney, Richard Beswick, Richie Beswick, Steve Honn.
1 bluefin tuna of 27.3 pounds. $600 for second place in Tuna Division, swept the three tuna optionals of $720, $480, $240 for a total of $1,440. The 27.3-pound tuna was the big fish of the event, and won the Yamaha Big Fish Award of $1,000.
Total winnings, $3,040.
Team 13 Lady Grace
Robert McInerney, Mike Ricigliano and Mark Lewis
3 yellowtail of 18.4, 17.5 and 17.3 for 53.2 pounds to win Yellowtail Division and $1,000
Total winnings: $1,000
Team 14 Its 4 Reels
John Soria, Louie Prieto and Ernie Spalding
3 yellowtail of 19.7, 15.9, 6.2 pounds for a total of 41.8 pounds and $600 for placing second in the Yellowtail Division. Also won the $5,000 Hotel Coral and Marina Blind Bogey.
Total Winnings: $5,600
Team 7: Blackjack
Mike Kraus, Ed Day, Lee Madding, Juan Cordona
Weighed in 2 yellowtail of 21.3 and 19.7 pounds for a total of 40.7 pounds and placed third in the Yellowtail Division for $400
Total Winnings: $400
Weighed fish: Top 10 fish
1) 27.3-pound bluefin tuna, team 11
2) 23.8-pound yellowtail, team 4
3) 22.6-pound yellowtail, team 2
4) 21.3-pound yellowtail, team 7
5) 21.0-pound yell0wtail, team 11
6) 20.0-pound yellowtail, team 8
7) 19.7-pound yellowtail, team 14
8) 19.4-pound yellowtail, team 7
9) 18.4-pound yellowtail, team 13
10) 17.5-pound yellowtail, team 13
MARINA CORAL MANAGER Fito Espinsosa drew the ticket and Prieto’s Its 4 Reels, nabbed the $5,000 Hotel Coral Blind Bogey. Sr. Espinsosa made the check presentation on behalf of the hotel, providing the cash award. “We fish this event every year and are richer for not turning back because of the weather,” Prieto said.
EDGAR SANCHEZ AND MARIANA HAMMANN of the Marina Coral Marine store are joined by Pat McDonell, Tournament Director, as the festivities get underway.
MIKE RICIGLIANO OF Team Grace expressed his thanks and surprise. “The prize money was a bonus. We would have come just for the raffle.”
NEW SPONSOR, Agencia Arjonas’ an Ensenada and La Paz-based marine store, donated 100 T-shirts for team members at check-in.
THE NUMBER OF TEAMS taking advantage of the early-bird registration was similar to preceding years.
TEAM 15 POSES for group photo before heading out.
WHILE EVERYONE ACKNOWLEDGED the seas were rough and it was tough fishing, they all had stories of larger fish lost among their good catches.
AND THE COLORFUL sponsor banners that were hung on Friday morning confirmed it.