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Slew of Western Outdoor News events offers up something for every angler
From the U.S. Open of bass fishing to the biggest tuna tournament in the world, there’s plenty on WON’s docket for 2019


BY BLAKE WARREN

WON Staff Writer

SAN CLEMENTE — Each and every year, a smorgasbord of some of the most fun, exciting and lucrative fishing events you’ll find anywhere are put on the schedule by Western Outdoor News, and 2019 will certainly be no different. Starting in April, myriad fishing contests will kick off, running right on through the year and culminating with the biggest tuna tournament in the world: the WON/Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot.


From freshwater to saltwater, WON has the fishing tournament gamut covered, from prestigious bass fishing events to all-or-nothing, big-fish showdowns aboard some of the most popular sportfishers in the Southern California fleet. From novices to seasoned veterans, from hard-core anglers to family fun, Western Outdoor News has the event for everyone on the ledger (check out the complete listing of the WON events below online at WONews.com by clicking on the ‘WON EVENTS’ tab at the top of the home page).


WON ’s newest born event, the inaugural WON BASS Arizona Open at Lake Havasu is already in the books, having taken place in January and garnering rave reviews. However, the rest of the year’s events are still ahead.


Here’s a sneak peak into what the rest of 2019 has in store for anglers:


APRIL 10-12: WON BASS California Open, Clear Lake, Calif. — Now heading into its seventh year, the California Open continues to gain notoriety and prestige with each annual contest. Held at a watershed that Bassmaster magazine annual ranks in the top 10 lakes in the country in Clear Lake in Northern California, the potential of massive, record-breaking bags and thrilling weigh-ins is always a possibility at the Cal Open. A “bucket list” fishery for many West Coast bassers, Clear Lake is the Holy Grail for big-bass potential, and with a Bass Cat Sabre FTD / Mercury 175hp ProXS prize package and ample cash up for grabs, it’s a no-brainer draw that brings both talent and excitement to the Northern California bass haven each and every spring. Set for mid-April amid pre-spawn conditions, the 2019 Cal Open is a total crapshoot in which anything can happen.


To secure your entry for the 2019 WON BASS California Open at Clear Lake, sign up online at WONews.com, wonbass.com or contact WON BASS Tournament Director Billy Egan at (949) 366-0248, or via e-mail at bille@wonews.com. ($1,000 pro entry fee, $400 co-angler entry).


APRIL 25: WON/Ventura Sportfishing Rockfish Rumble (5 a.m. departure, 4 p.m. return), Ventura Sportfishing, Ventura, Calif. — Three of Ventura Sportfishing’s top sportboats will battle it out, as over 100 anglers vie for top honors, prizes and cash awards in this annual one-day event. With the Pacific Eagle, Island Spirit and Amigo heading out to the famed Channel Islands for this springtime big-fish contest, you can expect huge rockfish and lingcod to come flying over the rails, with any angler on any boat able to garner that one big bite and take all the marbles (i.e. cash and prizes), plus there’s a big winner on each individual sportfisher for the biggest fish.


To sign up for April’s Rockfish Rumble, log onto WONews.com, or contact WON sales rep Chip Cone at (949) 366-0726, or via e-mail at chip@wonews.com. ($105 per angler).


MAY 3: Newport Battle of the Bay (6 a.m. departure, 6 p.m. return), Davey’s Locker / Newport Landing, Newport Beach, Calif. — Two staple Newport sportboats, Freelance and Patriot, set out on a 12-hour trip to slug it out for late-spring Catalina Island yellowtail and halibut, with the ever-elusive white seabass also a possibility to blip on the radar at the island. Anglers on the two sportfishers battle it out for a beefy overall jackpot between the two boats, with healthy cash prizes going out to anglers catching the three largest fish, along with the typical prizes and giveaways that are commonplace with all WON charters. The $145-per-angler cost also includes the $10 jackpot buy-in along with a bonus return twilight trip.


For more information or to lock up your spot for the 2019 Newport Battle of the Bay, contact WON sales rep. Cameron Gauci at (949) 366-0921 or Cameron@wonews.com, or visit WONnews.com and click on the ‘WON EVENTS’ tab. ($145 per angler).


lakehavasutripederby
THE LAKE HAVASU STRIPER DERBY is always a blast, and the 37th annual installment of the event is slated for London Bridge, May 18-19.


MAY 18-19: WON/Lake Havasu Striper Derby,  London Bridge Resort, Lake Havasu, Lake Havasu City, Ariz. — By far the largest striped bass fishing tournament of its kind in the western U.S., Striper Derby has drawn well over 18,000 teams over its 36-year run as WON’s longest-standing fishing tournament. This two-day family-friendly event is always a blast and great time had by all under the Havasu sun, with plenty of giveaways, raffles, prizes and awards slotted to go out to Derby competitors at the Sunday awards ceremony, highlighted by a ­Klamath 16EXW aluminum boat and Suzuki 40hp motor package as the grand raffle prize. Two-man teams battle it out over two days’ fishing to try and amass the heaviest possible striper weight to take top honors. Plenty of cash is also on the line with randomly-drawn Blind Bogeys along with General Big Fish and High Roller Big Fish optional cash pools, giving anglers plenty of ways to win (besides all of the usual great giveaways and post-derby raffles).


Log on to WONews.com and click on the ‘WON EVENTS’ tab to enter, or contact Tournament Director Billy Egan at (949) 366-0248, or via e-mail at bille@wonews.com. ($175 for basic team entry; $275 for team entry, Sat./Sun. Blind Bogey and General Big Fish optionals; and $375 to go all in and enter the High Roller optional).


JUNE 8-9: WON/Catalina Island Jackpot, Isthmus Cove at Two Harbors, Catalina Island — Back for its second consecutive year after a few years’ hiatus, the Catalina Island Jackpot sends teams of 2 to 4 out of Two Harbors in a competition for the biggest fish over two days. Primary target species are white seabass, yellow­tail and halibut — with a NEW species added for 2019: calico bass (ONLY live calicos will be weighed). Cash prizes go out to the 3 largest overall fish regardless of species, with separate optional cash pools for all four species as well. $10,000 in prize money will be up for grabs to be split among the teams catching the three biggest overall fish (based on 50 teams/boats).


To sign up for the 2019 Catalina Island Jackpot, log on to WONews.com and click on the ‘WON EVENTS’ tab, or contact Tournament Director Billy Egan at (949) 366-0248 or bille@wonews.com. ($400/team entry fee; $2,000 all in across the board in optional cash pools).


THE WON SAN DIEGO Offshore Jackpot, a thrilling head-to-head contest between up to 10 overnight boats and their anglers from San Diego’s Scott Street landings, will take place June 27-28.


JUNE 27-28: WON/San Diego Offshore Jackpot, H&M Landing, San Diego, Calif. — Now entering its 5th year, the San Diego Offshore Jackpot is the biggest sportboat tournament on the West Coast, with a number of sportboats already in from H&M, Point Loma and Fisherman’s Landing (and more boats expected to join the event between now and then) for bragging rights and cash and prizes totaling in excess of $10,000 for the three largest fish that are weighed in.


This exciting extended over­night tournament will pit some of the best and most experienced captains in the SoCal fleet against each other, who will all be vying for pride and the hopes of securing the perpetual Jackpot trophy at their home landing until the 2020 tournament rolls around — the coveted trophy currently calls Point Loma Sportfishing home after the New Lo-An claimed two of the top three spots this past June with big bluefin tuna into the triple digits. The trip departs the evening of June 27 and returns the following evening.


Entry fee for the event is $275 per angler, which also includes the $20 jackpot buy-in. To book your spot for the 2019 Offshore Jackpot, contact the three landings directly:


H&M Landing: (619) 222-1144, hmlanding.com; Fisher­man’s Landing: (619) 221-8500, fishermanslanding.com; Point Loma Sportfishing: (619) 223-1627, pointlomasportfishing.com.


JUNE 28-SEPT. 5: WON/Big Fish Challenge, Southern California — When it comes to unique, all-inclusive fishing tournaments, there are none bigger, better or longer in duration than the one-of-a-kind Big Fish Challenge. Entering its fourth year, this unique 10-week fishing contest is open to anglers up and down the coast from the Channel Islands on south into Mexican waters. Each week, anglers from all over the Southland battle it out in attempt to land the week’s largest fish in each of six different species categories: white seabass, tuna, yellowtail, bonito/barracuda, lingcod and halibut.


Weekly winners in each species category are awarded an array of top-shelf prizes, while the overall winners for each species category when all is said and done at the end of the 10-week contest will score a massive haul of top-of-the-line sponsor prizes valued at over a whopping $5,000 apiece for each winner! At the top of the list of the many great things about the Challenge is that anglers can fish whenever they want, wherever they want, and however often they want… whether on a private boat or sportfisher, or even a kayak.


Another great aspect of the Challenge is the cost to get in on the action — or the lack thereof more accurately — as it’s just $10 to enter each individual species category for the duration of the 10 weeks, or just $40 to go “all-in” for all six saltwater species. With huge prize packages feature some of the best gear from the industry’s top names up for grabs, this is one contest you won’t want to miss!


To sign up for the 2019 Big ­Fish Challenge, log on to WONBigFish.com in the weeks leading up to the event — again, the battle kicks off June 28.


JULY 20: Morro Bay Central Coast Lingcod Championship, Virg’s Landing, Morro Bay, Calif. — Based out of Virg’s Landing in beautiful Morro Bay, the gloves are off and all eyes are set on the Central Coast’s huge lingcod fishery in the third annual Lingcod Championship. Anglers aboard sportfishers Black Pearl and Fiesta will vie for monster lings and top honors in the one-day event that will bring with it a load of cash and prizes. There will also be plenty of great giveaways going out to all Championship anglers.


Entry fees are just $100 per angler. To lock up your spot in the second annual Central Coast Lingcod Championship, log on to WONews.com and click on the ‘WON EVENTS’ tab, or contact WON sales rep Chip Cone at (949) 366-0726, or chip@wonews.com.


SEPT. 20: Rockfish Showdown, Patriot Sportfishing, Avila Beach, Calif. – Join us aboard the Avenger, Endeavor and Starfire for our first-ever Rockfish Showdown out of Patriot Sportfishing. September is a great time with beautiful weather and biting fish. There will be a cash prize awarded to the passenger who lands the largest fish on each boat. We will also have raffle prizes to hand out. Come fish with some of the best captains and crew and catch the largest Lingcod or Rockfish of your life.


Entry fee is $120, which includes $10 for the Prize money (Jackpot). The trip will depart at 6 a.m. and return back at 4 p.m. Sign up at WONews.com or call sales rep Chip Cone at (949) 366-0726.


OCT. 5-6: WON/Big Bear Lake TroutfesT, Big Bear Lake, Calif. — Nestled on the calendar in the fall for the first weekend of October for its 15th annual installment, this family-friendly event is always a blast for adults and kids alike. Each fall, family and friends head “up the hill” to take part in the annual two-day trout derby amid the beautiful alpine setting of Big Bear Lake. Hundreds of anglers vie to make the top 5 in four different divisions (Adult Male/Female and Junior Male/Female), while also gunning for the Big Fish Award of the event and the hefty bounty that comes with it.


TroutfesT is also known for its plentiful post-event raffles and giveaways at the Sunday awards ceremony, which also features 10 randomly selected Blind Bogey winners and the granddaddy raffle prize giveaway of them all… a Klamath 16-foot aluminum armed with a Suzuki 20hp tiller motor that will go out to one lucky TroutfesTer. Early fall in Big Bear in the middle of the alpine city’s Oktoberfest always makes this a popular fishing event with returning participants year after year, and the kids love it too!


To sign up for the Big Bear Lake TroutfesT, log on to WONews.com and click on the ‘WON EVENTS’ tab, or contact Tournament Director Billy Egan at (949) 366-0248.


stevebubtosh
STEVE “BUB” TOSH is all smiles after claiming the 2018 U.S. Open title over the largest Open field in tournament history (224 boats). Photo by Dan O’Sullivan


OCT. 15-17: WON BASS U.S. Open at Lake Mead, Las Vegas, Nev. — Coming off the heels of one of the most exciting tournaments with the largest-ever field (228) in its 36-year history, the most prestigious bass fishing tournament in the West returns in mid-­October: the U.S. Open at Lake Mead. Known in fishing circles as “the great equalizer,” Lake Mead draws hundreds of anglers out to the Nevada desert every year — including some of the top names in the sport — to duel it out for the coveted and prestigious Open trophy.


Up for grabs to the victor is over $100,000 in cash and prizes, including a Bass Cat Puma equipped with a Mercury 250hp ProXS motor. With payouts to the top 40 spots (based on another 200-plus boats) along with Big Fish and Big Stringer money at stake, there’s plenty of cash to be awarded at the Open as always.


The unique three-day, shared-weight format of WON BASS Opens is also a draw, allowing co-anglers to fish with a variety of seasoned pros, with both a chance to claim the AAA title and tremendous learning opportunities and forging bonds with other anglers that last often last a lifetime.


Widely acknowledged among the toughest and most challenging bass fishing tournaments in the world in terms of both fishing skill and endurance, the U.S. Open draws competing anglers from throughout the United States and beyond each and every year.


Entry fees for the U.S. Open are $1,600 per pro angler ($600 deposit) and $600 for AAAs ($200 deposit).


To secure your entry in the 37th U.S. Open at Lake Mead, log on to WONews.com, WONBASS.com, or contact Tournament Director Billy Egan at (949) 366-0248, or by e-mail at bille@wonews.com.


cabotunajackpot
THE CABO TUNA JACKPOT is the biggest tuna tournament in the world, with over $800,000 payed out last year. This year’s event is Nov. 6-9.


NOV. 6-9: WON/Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot — The biggest tuna tournament in the world returns next fall for its 21st annual edition, primed to be the best Cabo Tuna Jackpot yet. This Cabo event’s slogan, “Fish hard and party harder!” is always on full display at the Jackpot, with myriad parties and festivities to accompany the exciting big tuna fishing of the tournament.


The Jackpot features over 150 teams of up to four anglers who venture into Cabo’s waters in search of monster tuna — along with wahoo and dorado — in the hopes of a huge payday. The 2018 installment of the event was witness to the tournament’s largest-ever total cash payout, a whopping $841,600!


Along with all the great parties, the thrilling fishing and other festivities surrounding the Cabo Tuna Jackpot, the event also raises $50,000 annually for local charities in Mexico.


For more information, visit loscabostunajackpot.com. For additional Cabo Tuna Jackpot information, e-mail Tourna­ment Director Pat McDonell at patm@wonews.com, or to enter, contact Lori Twilegar at (949) 366-0827.


Mercury Saltwater Bass Series: Six event dates through 2019 — The Saltwater Bass Series continues to grow and evolve with each and every year, and circuit is thriving. A fun and competitive saltwater circuit that is backed by tons of great sponsors and hosts events up and down the SoCal coast.


The SBS offers Masters and Rookie/Family divisions with both divisions fishing simultaneously in the same events, and awards are given out to each division at the post weigh-in BBQ.


The first two SBS events of the year are in the books already, and they’ve been exciting and well attended, the last drawing nearly 50 teams. The next event will follow on the heels of the Long Beach Show, out of Davies Launch Ramp in Long Beach. Calico and sand bass are of course in play, and spotted bay bass are worth 2X their weight. Following that will be tournaments on April 20 (Oceanside Harbor) and May 18 (Davies, Long Beach), with the June 8-9 Two Day Champion­ship to follow.


For more info, head over to SaltwaterBassSeries.com, or contact Tournament Director Gerry Mahieu at gerryjig@gmail.com.


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