SAN DIEGO — Yellowtail, white seabass, halibut and tuna catches headlined the eighth annual TowBoatUS San Diego Yellowtail Derby, which drew 123 participating anglers in 37 days of competitive fishing between April 30 and June 5.
The two heaviest catches were bluefin tuna caught on May 29 and 31. Neil Barbour’s 225-pound and 6.4-ounce bluefin caught on May 29 at 9 Mile Bank while aboard a private boat took first-place honors as the top weigh-in of the derby. Two days later Rick Maxa reeled in a 205-pound, 4.8-ounce bluefin, also at 9 Mile Bank, to bring in the second heaviest weigh in of the derby.
Title sponsor TowBoatUS offered a $500 bonus for the largest tuna caught during the derby.
Angler Dennis Burlason won a $500 prize from the San Diego Rod and Reel fishing club as part of a yellowtail contest.
“Off to an eager start, the first week produced five yellowtail that weighed in from 13 pounds to 32.7 pounds,” derby organizer John Campbell said. “The fish were caught at the fishing grounds in the Coronados and La Jolla. One halibut was landed in San Diego Bay. Three Pacific Bluefin Tuna, weighing from 57 to 58 pounds were landed. One was caught just south of the Coronados.”
Competition was solid throughout the derby, Campbell added.
“During the 37 days of the derby there were a lot of fish weighed in. The leaderboard changed often in all categories except white seabass,” said Campbell. “The only one caught won first place. Many were targeted and usually halibut were the by-catch.”
Jeremiah Brown caught the derby’s sole white seabass; the catch was made at the Whistle Buoy.
“He thought he metered yellowtail and dropped an iron down to yo-yo. Before he could play it, it was inhaled by a 54-pound white seabass, which he landed,” Campbell said. “I happened to be near The Marlin Club when he brought it in to be weighed. I have a good picture of the fish and another when he received his bag of prizes: a rod and his check for $500.”
Campbell added the competition was most intense during the final 10 days of the derby.
In the end the top yellowtail catch weighed in at 33 pounds, while Charles Wittenberg reeled in the heaviest halibut – 40 pounds and 8 ounces – while kayak fishing in La Jolla on June 4.
An awards party was held at the Bali Hai Pavilion in San Diego on June 6. Also earning awards was the largest weekend catch, as well as juniors with exceptional catches.
Ciara Church served the fishing event as Miss Yellowtail Derby.
The Yellowtail Derby returns for its ninth edition in 2017; the derby will kick off April 29, 2017 and continue through June 4, 2017. There are already 12 anglers signed up for next year’s derby.