SAN DIEGO — The extraordinary tuna fishing of 2016 continued for the Make-A-Wish Tuna Challenge, setting multiple catch records in its 27-year history, according to event officials.
A total of 85 private boats and one charter boat with 375 total anglers including 29 female anglers and 20 junior anglers summoned up their inner George Farnsworth looking for giant cow tuna. A total of 69 yellowfin tuna to 79 pounds and 33 bluefin tuna to 259 pounds and a handful of dorado and yellowtail were weighed in. A majority of the teams fished off of the “43,” Pyramid Head and China Point (San Clemente Island). A combination of fly lined sardines, tuna chunks and the yummie flyer fished from the kite was the main ticket.
The well-attended event raised more than $150,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego. Funds will go towards granting wishes to children with life threatening illnesses.
The top overall team was the crew of Esperanza, composed of Tony Dileva, Scott Bradley, Harry Coleman, Randy Murad, Bob Seitz and Bill Seitz, who headed to the ridge between the “43” and Pyramid Head and decked a truly giant bluefin to put them over the edge. Team captain and angler Dileva (former Tuna Challenge committee member) brought in the 259 pound bluefin tuna, while fishing the kite on a yummie flyer during a sundowner. The catch earned Dileva the Richard Thomas Memorial Grand Prize and a trip to the Grand Alaska Lodge.
Team Esperanza did just enough with the rest of their catch to take home the Larger Boat Division and high boat overall with 377.8 points as well as the coveted team champion jackets.
The second place team on Reel Eze with 353.6 points took home the third, fourth and fifth place angler awards (Greg Bohnet, Dan Brown and Connor Burke, respectively) with their outstanding team catch of limits of bluefin tuna from 76-91 pounds. The former team champions really had the bluefin going on the yummie flyer in tight to Pyramid and left them biting in search of larger units after releasing several others. Brown, team captain, and his crew took it upon themselves to raise money on their own for the cause and turned over $4,400 in donations at the banquet to Make-A-Wish while raising the gauntlet to other boat captains.
The Top Club Award was brought home by host Silver Gate Yacht Club with their 570.0 points for their top three boats.
Other notable catches include Dileva’s 259.0 slug shattered the previous Tuna Challenge record of a 120.8 pound Bigeye Tuna taken by Doug Verani in 2004. Ken-Dan had held the High Team Tuna Challenge record of 254.3 points for the past 14 years until it was smashed by seven boats led by Team Esperanza and their 377.8 points.
2016 Tournament Results
Top Club: Silver Gate YC, 570 points.
Women’s Division: Reel Freedom, 72-pound yellowfin tuna (72 points), Lindsey Koroly.
Juniors Division (12-15): Finology, 75.80-pound bluefin tuna (75.80 points), Ryan Herrera.
Juniors Division (11 and under): Reel Medicine, 15.8-pound dorado (7.90 points), Nicholas Genovese.
Large Boat Division (Team): Esperanza, 377.80 points, Silver Gate YC.
Large Boat Division (Individual): Concubine, 146.60-pound bluefin tuna (146.60 points), Tom Olson.
Small Boat Division (Team): E Fish N Sea, 297.40 points, 976-Bite.
Small Boat Division (Individual): Reel Medicine, 203.80-pound bluefin tuna (203.80 points), Matthew Genovese.
More results can be found at tinyurl.com/Make-A-Wish-2016-Results.