By: Parimal M. Rohit
MARINA DEL REY — “The Big Tuna” is a nickname bestowed upon an NFL coaching legend and salesman in the American version of The Office. Perhaps the weekend after Tax Day is when someone will coin the phrase “The Big Halibut” and assign the nickname to whoever claims first place in the 40th running of the Marina del Rey Halibut Derby.
This year’s iteration of the derby — which is organized annually by Marina del Rey Anglers — will take place April 18 and 19 at Burton Chace Park. The charity event is considered in some circles as the official start of fishing season for local anglers (though the 2014 fishing season never really ended and has continued strong into 2015).
Hailed as the largest fishing tournament in Los Angeles, the Halibut Derby will feature individual anglers and teams competing for multiple species of fish — not just halibut.
There are many ways for anglers to win prizes.
Anglers finishing in the top four spots will be rewarded with a trip. The first place winner, for example, wins a three-day and four-night trip to Sitka Point Lodge in Alaska with complimentary airfare.
The second place winner wins a five-day, four-night trip to La Paz, Mexico, with Tailhunter International Sportfishing (airfare included).
A third place finish is reward with a 2.5-day tuna trip aboard Eclipse Aug. 13 to 16, while the fourth place finisher claims a one-day guided coastal trip with professional angler Benny Florentino.
According to organizers, teams will also compete for a cash jackpot and entrants compete side jackpots.
Registration forms are available on the event’s website, halibutderby.com. Mail-in registrations must be postmarked by April 1 in order to be processed. Last-minute sign-ups can be made April 16 and 17 at Burton Chace Park.
The registration fee for individual anglers is $85 per person, while teams of two, three or four fishers pay $25 per person.
Proceeds from the derby help fund Marina del Rey Anglers’ Youth Fishing and White Sea Bass Grow Out programs.
Representatives from Hubbs Sea World Research Institute and California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife will be on-site during the event.
Fishing begins at sunrise on both days; weigh-in is between 12 noon and 3 p.m. both days. Organizers state fish need to be checked-in and on the table at the dock (both days) at 2:59 p.m.
Anglers are advised to keep fish alive with fresh seawater; those releasing live fish will receive a 25 percent bonus.
An awards dinner and ceremony takes place April 19 at 4 p.m. at Burton Chase Park, with catering provided by El Tapatio.
A pre-derby seminar will be held one week prior to the tournament at the community room of Burton Chace Park. The seminar starts at 7 p.m., April 9 and features a guest speaker providing tips for fishing halibut in the Santa Monica Bay.