Feature Article: SD Offshore Jackpot

Signs point toward a terrific San Diego Offshore Jackpot, June 27-28

BY PAUL LEBOWITZ/WON Staff WriterPublished: May 21, 2019

Cash and prizes at stake as all three famous Scott Street landings battle for offshore supremacy


SAN DIEGO — The fifth annual Western Outdoor News San Diego Offshore Jackpot pits the Scott Street landings at the beating heart of Southern California offshore fishing against each other in a one-of-a-kind overnight duel, and you can be a part of it and win some big cash and prizes June 27-28.

Early signs are good this could be another bang-up event. At press time, schools of 40- to 200-pound bluefin were biting in a wide area as close as full-day range from Pt. Loma, and the odds are good these fish will be available come tournament time.

This is a contest between landings, individual sportboats and their anglers. The anglers earn most of the spoils — the San Diego Offshore Jackpot pays first through third place. The captains get bragging rights — just ask Capt. Markus Medak of the New Lo-An about that. He’s now won back-to-back Jackpots, 2017-2018. The landings are fighting for the right to host the event’s perpetual trophy.

This year’s contestants are the Daiwa Pacific, Legend and Old Glory out of tournament host H&M Landing. The New Lo-An andChief are waving the flag for Point Loma Sportfishing. The Condor and Tomahawk are in it to win it for Fisherman’s Landing.

Here’s how you can get involved — just go overnight fishing! $275 per person includes the jackpot buy-in and a raffle entry. Based on full loads, that’s a $4,050 cash prize purse!

As a reminder, at the San Diego Offshore Jackpot, every angler is fishing for himself or herself. The boats won’t kite fish, and it’s against the rules to hook and hand. But take note, every other form of traditional crew assistance is allowed, including help with rigging, and of course, gaffing fish.

Once again, first through third places will be awarded, and there’s a special opportunity to load up on prizes. If you place, you could win big via the Daiwa contingency. Here’s how it works.

Catch your fish with a new Daiwa rod or reel and win a $1,000 Daiwa shopping spree. Fish any reel spooled with Daiwa J-Braid, and you could win an additional $500 Daiwa shopping spree. See the separate story in this issue for the full details.

The heaviest fish out of each landing will win a Daiwa Saltist star drag mated to a Daiwa Proteus WN rod. Consider the number of boats from each landing and tally your odds.

Just like every WON charter, you’ll find bulk spools of Sufix monofilament line for fill-ups on the boats, plus Yo-Zuri fluoro­carbon for topshots. Every angler will also receive a VMC hook pack.

Every tournament entry is eligible for the Offshore Jackpot raffle, which will feature 3 more Daiwa Saltist star drag reels and 3 more Daiwa Proteus WN rods, as well as 4 of SKB’s excellent Tak-Pak Backpack Tackle Systems.

Sign up now, as space is filling fast! The New Lo-An is already sold-out. The Daiwa Pacific is down to 5 spots, but there’s still plenty of space (but not for long) on the Legend, Old Glory, Chief, Tomahawk and Condor.

Entry is easy, just book your spot by calling the landings or by booking online.

H&M Landing, (619) 222-1144

Point Loma Sportfishing, (619) 223-1627

Fisherman’s Landing, (619) 221-8500

2018 Recap

If the 2019 edition of the San Diego Offshore Jackpot is anything like 2018, it’ll be one to celebrate. Last year the fishing was outstanding, with bluefin tuna weighing into the 80s and plenty of them.

John Gugliotta of West Hills was the top angler on the strength of an 88.2-pound bluefin, which earned him a $2,040 payday.

2018 SAN DIEGO Offshore Jackpot winner John Gugliotta, left, weighed in a 88.2-pound bluefin tuna caught aboard Markus Medak’s, right, New Lo-An to collect the Jackpot cash. Medak retained the perpetual Jackpot trophy for Point Loma Sportfishing.

“Markus said use heavy gear. I went straight for the 100-pound,” Gugliotta said. He caught his fish on a gold Shimano Flat-Fall some 300 feet down, where he was quickly bit. He didn’t mess around, beating his bluefin in just 12 minutes on a Penn International VISX 16 2-speed mounted to a United Composites Raptor.

Gugliotta fished aboard Capt. Markus Medak’s New Lo-An, which went back-to-back as the winning boat, no mean feat. Medak’s win meant Point Loma Sportfishing kept the San Diego Offshore Jackpot trophy for another year of bragging rights.

Most of Medak’s other bluefin were school-sized, but there were two other outliers. He called the action “steady, plunker, nothing great, a few contenders. Just good, steady plunker action.” That action delivered an 82.6-pound bluefin for Arnold Ughoc of Garden Grove, and an 84.8 for his brother James, also of Garden Grove — reportedly a grueling two-hour fight on 30-pound test. The latter bluefin was good for second place and $1,225 in Jackpot cash.

GOOD ONE HANGING — 2018 second place San Diego Offshore Jackpot winner James Ughoc of Garden Grove, right, with his 84.8-pound bluefin, reportedly caught after a long fight on 30-pound-test. Capt. Markus Medak, left, looks on.

If you’re counting, that’s first and second for Medak’s New Lo-An, but the Ranger 85 ensured there would be no sweep when Greg Commentz of Carlsbad weighed in a hefty 84.2-pound bluefin. Third place earned Commentz $815 in Jackpot cash.

Medak was satisfied. “I wanted to win. We were trying hard. There’s luck involved.

We gave it our best,” Medak said at the time.

Can Medak and his New Lo-An do it for a third year in a row? The other captains and crews and their anglers will have something to say about that.

“He’s had two good trips,” Capt. Chuck Taft of the Legend said, referring to Medak’s 2017 and 2018 wins. Medak doesn’t scare him. “Everything is good, we had 19 bluefin tuna on a trip the other day, it’s good fishing. The fish are scattered everywhere including 1-day range.”

When asked why the San Diego fleet has had such amazing success the past couple years on early season bluefin, Taft said the fleet didn’t previously try to fish it this way. “Things look really good, the Mexican purse seiners already have their bluefin limit.”

Tips from the Captains

Capt. Ken Baruch of the Daiwa Pacific said this year’s target species are obvious. Bluefin and yellowtail are in the mix, but yellowtail are irrelevant because unless the season suddenly goes south, every San Diego Offshore Jackpot boat will be fishing for bigger game, event-winning bluefin.

Baruch said anglers should bring a variety of setups from 30- to 100-pound-test. Flat-Falls and other jigs of the angler’s choice are a necessity, including glow in the dark models in 130- and 250-gram sizes.

In late April, 1.5-day anglers were catching bluefin tuna limits using 40-pound test and small 1/0 circle hooks — and you better believe there were casualties as some of those bluefin ranged from 80 pounds on up to 130.

Baruch recommends bringing hardened hooks — he likes Mustad — in 4/0 to 6/0 sizes. Don’t skimp on the fluorocarbon, and spool up with Spectra. For your heavy setup, use 100-pound.

Baruch said keeping in touch with your baits and line is critical — advice that should be familiar to any live bait angler. “Keep your line and bait tight and swimming. You have to feel it. If you’re drifting a balloon it’s the same thing. No slack, feel the bait,” he said.

He reminded anglers never to set circle hooks, just wait until the line comes tight. No swinging. If you’re using a J hook it’s a different story. Set it. “Get the hook in them good. No backing off,” Baruch said.

Capt. Doug ‘Bam-Bam’ Hunt of the Old Glory simply said the San Diego Offshore Jackpot is no different from any other trip. Listen to the crew. “Follow directions and mother ocean will give us what she gives us,” he said, but couldn’t resist adding a friendly jab at the other boats in the contest. “We’re the best overnight boat. We get out more than anyone else and we were the first boat to find the bluefin this year.”

Back to Taft. Like the other captains, his advice was common sense. “Don’t be too proud to ask what’s working. Get help from the crew,” he said.

TUNA, TUNA, TUNA — If the 2019 edition of the San Diego Offshore Jackpot is anything like the 2018 contest, where bluefin were plentiful, it’ll be one to celebrate. Signs offshore are excellent that we’ll see a repeat. Sign up now, space will fill fast!

bringingouttheBRINGING OUT THE BIGS — Markus Medak’s New Lo-An scored the first and second place San Diego Offshore Jackpot fish in 2018, for the sportboat’s second consecutive Jackpot win. Can they do it again? The other Jackpot boats are definitely gunning for them.

daiwakickingDAIWA IS KICKING in a bunch of great gear for the San Diego Offshore Jackpot, including rods and reels, but the real money is in the Daiwa Contingency. Fish with a new Daiwa reel or rod or with any reel spooled up with J-Braid and place, and you’ll take home a certificate good for a Daiwa shopping spree worth as much as $1,500. See the story for the details.

CAPT. KEN BARUCH of the Daiwa Pacific is determined to win the 2019 edition of the San Diego Offshore Jackpot. His advice to anglers is to bring a variety of set-ups from 30- to 100-pound-test. Flat-Falls and other jigs of the angler’s choice are a necessity, including glow in the dark models in 130- and 250-gram sizes.

THE BOATS OF the San Diego Offshore Jackpot are in it to win it, and there’s quite a bit of good-natured rivalry to go around. Capt. Doug ‘Bam-Bam’ Hunt of the Old Glory says his boat is the best boat, and he may have a point. The Old Glory was the first on the bluefin this year. Can they beat back-to-back winner Markus Medak and the New Lo-An?

Lock up your spot for the 2019 San Diego Offshore Jackpot now!

The seven boats participating in the 2019 San Diego Offshore Jackpot will be filling up fast — the New Lo-An is already sold out and the Daiwa Pacific has just a few spots left as of press time — so be sure to pick your boat of choice and lock up your spot for the

June 27-28 three-landing showdown. Signing up is a breeze: Just call the landings or book your spot online.

H&M Landing: (619) 222-1144, (Daiwa Pacific 2 spots left; Legend, 16 spots left;, Old Glory, SOLD OUT)

Point Loma Sportfishing: (619) 223-1627, (Chief, 23 spots left; New Lo-An, SOLD-OUT)

Fisherman’s Landing: (619) 221-8500, (Condor, 23 spots left; Tomahawk, 16 spots left)

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