Northern CA Saltwater

14th Annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby a huge success

BY ALLEN BUSHNELL/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Mar 13, 2018

SANTA CRUZ — Anglers vying for the big Sand Crab Classic trophies on Saturday March 10 found smooth seas at dawn with a mild swell and overcast skies. Those are perfect conditions for surf perching. Entrants fished beaches and cliffs from Pacifica in the north and Carmel to the south. As always, there were some skunks, but also some very impressive fish weighed in at the annual event at Portuguese Hall in Santa Cruz.

THE WINNER OF the Sand Crab Classic held in Santa Cruz last week was Steve Griffin with his giant Barred Surf Perch caught in Monterey with a live bloodworm. It measure 16 5/8 inches and weighed 3.4 pounds.

Most impressive was a 3-pound, 5-ounce barred surfperch weighed in by 2018 Grand Master Steve Griffin. The fish was humungous, measuring 16 and 5/8-inches long with a wide, deep body. Griffin has participated in the Sand Crab Classic for five years in a row, taking home a second place trophy in 2016 and winning it all this year. He used live bloodworms while fishing in Monterey.

The Senior Division 1st place trophies went to DAngelo Gipson for his 2-pound, 3-ounce barred surfperch and Philip Cabato for a 2-pound, 4-ounce San Gregorio redtail perch. Women’s honours were captured by Lesli Cadwallader in the barred surf perch division, who caught her 12 1/8-inch BSP from Sunset Beach.

The juniors division first-place trophies went to Emelio Ancheta who caught a 13 1/8-inch barred surf perch and Julian Renz who weighed in a 13 7/8-inch redtail perch reportedly caught at Rio Del Mar.

Perennial trophy winners Camille and Samara Cortazzo showed pure angler natures this year. Placing second and third respectively in the junior perch division, the girls insisted their dad Danny Cortazzo rig a livewell in the back of his truck so they could release their fish after weigh-in. Samara’s 13.5-inch pile perch and Camille’s beautiful 12-inch striped perch both swam away unharmed on Saturday.

Over 300 guests filled the Portuguese Hall to enjoy the tri-tip and roast chicken BBQ, and cheer the trophy ceremony. Hundreds of prizes were raffled and auctioned. All the efforts are accomplished by a dedicated group of volunteers each year, and all proceeds go to support the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project

One never knows what might bite while perch fishing. A natural candidate for the “Most Exotic” Trophy this year was the 20-pound bat ray hooked by Zach Donnely. The big ray was landed on 10-pound test and released successfully. An informal audience poll granted the Exotic Trophy to Nelson Borges instead. Borges fought and landed a 1-pound, 6-ounce black bikini bottom. The crowd went wild!

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