Feature Article: Big Fish Challenge Promo

WON Big Fish Challenge continues to gather steam

Fourth running of competition coming up

BY MIKE STEVENS/WON Staff Writer Published: May 03, 2019

Ten-week fishing event allows anglers to fish whenever they want, however they want, for a low entry fee and shot at huge prizes

SAN CLEMENTE — Four 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 all with a miniscule registration fee and a simple format.

A short time later, the WON Big Fish Challenge was born, and the fourth installment of the event that immediately became a favorite among WON readers and supporting sponsors is set to run for 10 weeks starting June 28 and running through Sept. 5.

This “every man’s” fishing tournament pits everyone from private boaters to kayakers to party boat anglers against each other on a level playing field in a 10-week competition for gaudy prize packages. After a successful inaugural season, and upgrades in each following up round, the 2019 installment is already looking pretty solid.

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.

A quick overview of how the event works: anglers visit, where sign-ups, 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.

The six species categories anglers are gunning for are: tuna, yellowtail, halibut, white seabass, lingcod, and last year, a bonito/barracuda slot was added last year to open things up even more to coastal and island anglers. The dual-species nature of the category brought a new wrinkle to the event and it was a hotly-contested segment that was fun to monitor on a weekly basis, and there will surely be a large amount of submissions.

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 weekly 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 typically reaches (we’re still adding to it) in excess of $5,000 in value. 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.

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, minimal investment and requirements.

So far, supporting sponsors of the Big Fish Challenge already locked in and beefing up the prize list include: Penn, Global Fish Mounts, SKB, 976-Bite, Yo-Zuri, Rapala, Nomad, HI-SEAS, Gamakatsu, Terrafin, Engel Coolers, Fishworks and Studio Bachar. More are pending, and participants can always count on more being added right up until the event kicks off, or even after the event is underway.

To see last year’s wrap-up story, visit and search ‘Big Fish Challenge anglers; visit WON headquarters’ for a great overview and recap of the whole thing. For complete rules, registration, prize lists and updates, visit

THIS BLUEFIN TUNA going 182.2 pounds was caught by Chip Cone in Week 4 of last year’s Challenge, stood atop the leaderboard when the dust settled.

TOP HALIBUT IN 2018 was this 43 pounder caught by Jorge Villegas.

THE BONITO/BARRACUDA category was added last year, and the grand prize went to Daniel Salvay. That popular species category is back again for the 2019 Big Fish Challenge.

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