The San Diego Anglers Club once again put on another great Open Bay Bass Tournament! This tournament is the largest Saltwater Bass tournament on the West coast! Normally there are 150 teams, but I heard this year they even went over by 2 teams. So with 152 teams with 2 anglers per team, there were a total of 304 anglers competing in this tournament in San Diego Bay. By far this is the best tournament out there due to so many reasons from free food and beer, to hanging with good friends, to the fun of having a fishing challenge for the day. Overall it was a great day of friends and food. Catching fish is just icing on the cake!
Once again, a year later, the day started at 2am. A shower, some breakfast burritos for the road, a stop at 7-11 for coffee and ice and off to Shelter Island launch ramp. We arrived around 4am and pulled into the normal line of boats that was forming and chatted with some other friends. Around 4:30am they start inspecting boats for “hidden” fish, give you a bag of goodies and let you launch your boat. Once on the water, you are floating in the dark among a growing flotilla of other boats. They try to keep everyone corralled until the shot gun start at “safe light”.
While getting our gear ready on the boat and waiting for the sun to peer over the horizon, we got to enjoy the epic full moon setting over Point Loma. Pictures never do justice, but it was a great way to start the morning.
The tournament started around 6:20am with the boats blasting off towards there various fishing spots. Terry and I decided to start right by the ramp where we had caught a really nice Sand Bass the week before. After loosing 3 lures, a few tangles and no fish to show we packed up and moved to our other spot a bit further back in the bay. Immediately we started to pick away at fish, unfortunately they were mostly small. Slowly they seemed to grow a bit and finally Terry hooked into a real nice Sand Bass on a plastic. We boated him and did some high fives and started back up again. After that fish, we were able to start rotating out the smaller ones for bigger ones. With a decent looking bag by 9am we decided to try our new technique we had been using for the past few weeks.
The technique we starting using is Lead Core line which allows us to slow troll plastics near the bottom where the Sand Bass are. This technique is mostly used for catching trout in lakes that are schooling at a certain depth that is hard to reach using other gear. With 100 yards of Lead Core line out, a 15’ Flourocarbon leader (invisible) we are able to troll right next to the bottom where the bass hang out. We were able to rotate out a few more fish using this technique which was great! But we still had two bass at 1.8 lbs which we really wanted to bump out with bigger fish. With about an hour left in the tourney I finally hooked into the chunkier Sand Bass we needed to bump our weight up! Now we only had one bass at 1.8lbs that we wanted to rotate out, but could never put it together. Over and over we pulled in Spotted Bay Bass and a few Sand Bass, but nothing that beat the 5 fish that were in our tank.
Overall the bite started great in the morning, then died as the tide did it’s 9 foot tide wing out. Once the tide started to slow down near low, the fish started to bite a bit again. We had no idea what our 5 fish weight was, but felt pretty good that we got into the top 25 spot to win our money back.
Once we got the boat out of the water, put the gear away and had a cold beer to celebrate we headed into the tournament area. Once there we found “The Board” that listed the top 25 spots, and found our names listed on the #8 spot out of 150 teams! Best win so far in this tournament beating out 16th place we had in 2007.
The crowd was at it’s usual pace with hundreds of people showing up for the free food, beer, raffle and checking the fish out.
Inside the tent where the stage is was at it’s usual full capacity!
Terry and I going up to get our check.
A short video clip my beautiful girl Rachel took while our names were called for 8th place.
Our “real” checks…
And now the big check for the pictures!
Overall a great time and a big thanks to my yearly tournament partner Terry who always helps put a win together, my girlfriend Rachel for playing photographer, and our friends for making it a great time!
Until our next tournament, the Southwestern Yacht Club Rock Cod Tournament, take care and tight lines!
Captain Peter Hamann