Feature Article: Battle of the Bay Recap

Newport Battle of the Bay delights participants

BY MIKE STEVENS/WON Staff Writer Published: May 09, 2018

Back-to-back jackpot winner wins cash and
Costa sunglasses… again

NEWPORT HARBOR — The inaugural Newport Battle of the Bay competition between anglers aboard the Freelance and Patriot went off on Friday, and while fishing was tough for both vessels, the day on the water showed promise for both upcoming fishing and the event itself.

An early-May Catalina trip aboard Freelance out of Davey’s Locker has been a staple on the WON charter schedule for years, and it’s a very popular trip with a nice mix of annual regulars and new faces. Keeping that popularity in mind, the WON staffers who construct the charter schedule decided to add a second boat in the form of Newport Landing’s Patriot and turn it into a competition between the two boats featuring a “combined-jackpot” format that paid cash to the top three fish caught between the two sportboats.

freelanceregularFREELANCE REGULAR ARNOLD Kubo was escorted by two Freelance crewmen as a big yellow took him around the boat three times before getting eaten by a seal in the inaugural Newport Battle of the Bay. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

But it wouldn’t be a WON charter if that was the only way to score. Each passenger received a pass for a twilight trip, VMC hooks and spool ups of Sufix mono or Daiwa J-Braid along with Yo-Zuri Top Knot fluorocarbon to strip off as needed. There were also raffle prizes including Daiwa pliers, sheaths and rod wraps, Fishworks T-shirts, Costa cleaning kits, lanyards and sunglass straps. A new bonus to this event was the availability of 16 rod-and-reel combos (eight per boat) for passengers to use if they so desired. Many took advantage of that, and had nothing but good to say about the Daiwa Saltist and Lexa reels (preloaded with J-Braid) and Proteus rods. There was also a pair of Costa on each boat that would go to the top fish caught on each, so the overall winner went home with the cash and the Costas.

That winner was one of the regulars on the Freelance charter, Westminster angler Chris Patrizio who’s no stranger to this situation as he also took the jackpot last year. His 25-inch halibut was heavy enough to hold off a barracuda also caught on the Freelance, and a nice red taken by Hayden Metz aboard the Patriot that earned him the Costa shades. The payout breakdown was $275 to Patrizo, who shared a nice chunk with the crew of the Freelance, $171 to second and $114 to third.

Usually this early-May trip brings home a couple yellowtail, but conditions were not as springy as they’ve been in years past. Captain Chris Gobel kept the Freelance tight to the island, starting out at a bonito spot near Avalon and making his way around the East End and up to around China Point before working his way back up the front side before heading back to the barn. There were multiple hookups on yellows including one that took Freelance regular Arnold Kubo around the boat three times over the course of over 20 minutes (he was using 20-pound test that barely budged this fish) before he almost had it to color before a seal ate it.

Gobel found a couple decent but quick bonito bites and a few sustained calico picks in the afternoon. The Patriot spent a good time around the island but also moved offshore to get on the rockcod, and under the circumstances, they did pretty well on reds, other rockfish and a lingcod that was just short of legal.

All in all, it was a solid debut for the Battle of the Bay despite the slow fishing. The passengers dug the idea, which is modeled after WON’s Triton vs Gail Force limited-load battle — which is also a combined-jackpot deal that typically fishes Catalina — which heads out from L.A. Harbor Sportfishing on July 24. For more info on that one, head over to and find the charter list under the EVENTS tab.

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