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Feature Article: Shootout Recap

Channel Islands Shootout: Wells wins again

BY BOB SEMERAU/WON Staff WriterPublished: Jul 14, 2017

VENTURA — Up and down the coast from Ventura to San Diego, no contest is too much for Camarillo angler Wade Wells.

Following up his third-place payoff with a bluefin over the century mark at the WON San Diego offshore Jackpot, Wells came back to his home turf and stomped the competition with not one, but two fish in the top three, at the 2017 WON Channel Islands Shootout.

WELLS’ WINNING WSB took top honors at 25.02 pounds aboard the Amigo. Wells, left, shows off the jig that did the trick, a Tady blue and white.

The late-in-the-game 25.02-pound white seabass would go on to take first place honors for Wells along with loads of prizes and $970 cash. Wells also managed to boat another beast of a biscuit for a third-place spot and $388 more in cash plus even more prizes.

Sneaking in for second spot was Lance MacNiven, who showed up at the scales with an 18.03-pound croaker to take home $582 cash and assorted prizes.

All the winning action was aboard the newest addition to the Ventura Sportfishing fleet, the 65-foot sportfisher, Amigo.

“Captain Johnny (Johnny Ewert, the son of landing owners Greg and Terese Ewert) just would not quit and so we were able to get on board with our fish,” said a beaming winner, Wade Wells. “Before that moment we didn’t have anything worth taking to the scales.”

The action was tough all day for each of the four boats in the competition.

All the anglers headed to Anacapa after the starting time of 5 a.m. had the boats depart from Ventura Sportfishing. During the quick sign-in process participating anglers received hook packs and jigs from event sponsors VMC and Tady.

shootout_checkinswagCHECK-IN SWAG got things started with Tady Jigs and VMC hook packs for all participants in the 2017 WON Channel Islands Shootout.

Assisting this reporter with coverage of the four boats, WON associate Ted Reed, local angler Gary Donovan, and Turner’s Outdoorsman Fishing Manager, Oxnard store, Mike Armenta, provided photos and a rundown of the action on each.

Capt. Pat Cavanaugh, at the helm of Pacific Dawn, did not meter anything that would merit a stop on the front side of Anacapa, so he ran around the west end of the island to work the backside. Once there, the anglers found some willing yellowtail and a few came over the rail.

Angler Jerry Wisz was first to draw blood and boated a 15-pound forkie moments before angler Alfred Johnson, did the same.

The bite slowed and Capt. Cavanaugh began the search once again, making several stops along the backside of Anacapa, trying to scratch up more biters.

“We’ll give this a bit more time, then move around the backside,” call Capt. Alvin Faustino, piloting Island Spirit. Just then the sole yellowtail for the boat took a bait for angler Reuben Alford. The 13-pound forkie would not “qualify” but was big enough to win the boat’s jackpot for the day.

One of the great things about having the tournament hosted by Ventura Sportfishing is the selection of boats. All their boats have full galleys and on Island Spirit, they have Punky Melissa Balding doing the cooking. Punky not only slings a mean burger, but she often works the deck with the best of them, gaffing fish and freeing tangles at the rail.

JIG SLIMER ATE a blue and white iron while Pacific Eagle fished the backside of Santa Cruz for angler Chris Pena.

As the Island Spirit moved along the backside without much success, Amigo chugged out into the gap between Anacapa and Santa Cruz to see what they could find, but, the fish in the open water were no more willing than those near the islands. Capt. Ewert continued the long day of stopping on marks and pinnacles and toward the end of the day, returned to backside of Anacapa to find victory at the west end.

Pacific Eagle , skippered by Capt. Mike Mings, tracked the same path, working the pelagic zone at Anacapa Island then off to Santa Cruz Island, where the boat found few fish along the backside of Cruz, near Smuggler’s Cove and Yellow banks. Barracuda did, however, make a showing with Gary Donovan, Chris Pena, and Roger Del Toro all getting in on the slimesides. Long-time deckhand, Gregg Mayer, worked the deck to help anglers get fish when the bite was slow.

A last-minute bite on larger model barracuda gave the anglers aboard Island Spirit some sack fillers and a whole lot of fun. Julie Lopez fished with husband, Joe, and the lady angler boated several slimers before Capt. Faustino called for time to head for the barn.

With the boats due back at the Ventura Sportfishing dock in time for the 4 p.m. cut-off, all boats reported in before the weigh-in was begun at 4:15 p.m.

The rules state that the three heaviest fish from each should be brought to the scales but once Amigo’s fish cart was brought up, and with the very tough fishing, anglers declined to hang their fish at the scale. In addition to the white seabass that would go on to win prize money, another biscuit and a good-sized yellowtail, were in the Amigo catch.

“The white seabass were all from one stop at Anacapa at the end of the day,” said Turner’s Mike Armenta. “Even after we got those it seemed there were more biters cruising around but we had to go to make it back for the cut-off.”

NO CONTENDER, BUT still a good forkie, for angler, Jerry Wisz, right, gaffed by deckhand, Mike Nickerson.

“Wells tossed out a blue and white Tady jig and was immediately bit, boated it, and did it again!” explained Armenta as to the strategy used by tournament winner, Wade Wells.

With the winning fish officially weighed-in, the prizes were doled out to each.

1st Place, Wade Wells 25.02-pound white seabass, $970 Cash, a personalized Commemorative Plaque, Plano 3700 tackle bag, Avet SX reel, $50 Turner’s Outdoorsman gift card, Costa sunglasses.

2nd Place, Lance MacNiven, 18.03-pound white seabass, $582 Cash, a personalized Commemorative Plaque, Plano 3700 tackle bag, Avet MX reel, $50 Turner’s Outdoorsman gift card, Costa sunglasses.

3rd Place, Wade Wells, 17.05-pound white seabass, $388 Cash, a personalized Commemorative Plaque, Plano 3700 tackle bag, Avet MX reel, $50 Turner’s Outdoorsman gift card, Costa sunglasses.

Raffle prizes of Tady jigs, Yo-Zuri fluorocarbon, Okuma CZ 5CS reel, Plano 3700 tackle bag, $50 Turner’s Gift cards and a pair of Costa sunglasses, were given away to lucky ticket holders still in attendance.

“I had the best time,” said a very excited Julie Lopez. “I caught my first calico and my first barracuda on Island Spirit!”

“With four boats and over 100 anglers, this competition is getting serious,” said landing owner/operator Greg Ewert. “Next year will be the 10th WON Channel Islands Shootout and anglers are already pumped and ready for action.”

Contact: Ventura Sportfishing 1500 Anchors Way Dr., Ventura, CA 9300; phone: (805) 676-3474.

ISLAND SPIRIT DECKHAND Zack Gage displays a first-ever ’cuda taken by lady-angler, Julie Lopez.

NICE PAIR OF barracuda helped to fill out the sack for angler Clara Ricabal fishing aboard Island Spirit.

shootout_lancemacnivenLANCE MACNIVEN, LEFT, took home plenty of prizes and cash awarded by Ventura Sportfishing owner/operator, Greg Ewert, right.

shootout_secondplacewsbSECOND PLACE WSB 18.03-pound white seabass taken while fishing aboard the 65-foot sportfisher Amigo by Lance MacNiven, right, and weighed by Greg Ewert of Ventura Sportfishing, left.

shooutout_thirdplacewsbTHIRD PLACE WAS a WSB for Camarillo angler, Wade Wells, right, weighed-in at 17.05 pounds by Greg Ewert, left.

shootout_spunkypunkySPUNKY PUNKY KEPT the food flowing as cook aboard Island Spirit, and helped on deck whenever needed.

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