By: Taylor Hill
SAN DIEGO — San Diego Anglers’ Open Bay Bass Tournament, one of the region’s most popular fishing tourneys, will return for its 17th year Feb. 4, 2012. Entry forms are now available.
Each year, hundreds of two-person bass fishing teams converge at the Shelter Island launch ramp in San Diego Bay to compete for the top spot in the tournament. The team with the heaviest stringer of five bass — made up of any combination (or of all one species) of calico, barred, sand or spotted bay bass — wins the $1,500 first prize, plus the optional jackpot money, should they enter jackpot competition.
Last year’s winners — Josh Dunlap and Karl Erbacher of Team Salty Balls — beat out a field of 150 teams, and their winning catch weight of 16.26 pounds earned them $4,000. They have been a hot team on the saltwater bass circuit lately, with San Diego Anglers co-chairman Dwayne Patenaude noting that he expects the duo to place high again at this year’s tournament.
Patenaude, who has overseen all 16 previous tournaments, has watched the event grow from a small gathering of anglers and a tiny raffle into a renowned tournament with sponsors and big prizes.
“I can’t believe how much it has grown since its beginning,” Patenaude said. “It’s tremendous.”
There are many local fishing tournaments, but because the Open Bay Bass Tournament allows live bait along with artificial, that brings anglers of all levels — and gives everyone a chance at a big prize, Patenaude said.
“We get people coming down from Santa Barbara, and from Las Vegas, and even anglers from Phoenix come out to fish this tournament,” Patenaude said.
The tournament is limited to the first 150 entry forms turned in by teams, due to the limited number of trailerable boat parking spaces available at Shelter Island launch ramp. Previous years have seen more than 200 entries sent in for the tournament, and even with the downturned economy, Patenaude expects to fill the 150-team quota for upcoming tournament.
Prizes for the tournament include $1,500 for first place, sponsored by Drew Ford; $750 for second place, sponsored by Fifth Avenue Insurance; and $500 for third place, sponsored by MC Swimbaits.
A $250 prize will be awarded for the largest bass weighed during the tournament, sponsored by Seaforth Boat Rental; and a $150 prize will be awarded for the largest spotted bay bass weighed, sponsored by Bill Schaefer’s Guide Service. Weigh-ins will be at the Shelter Island launch ramp, and a barbecue and raffle for the tournament teams will take place immediately following the weigh-ins.
Entry forms are available at local San Diego tackle shops or online at sandiegoanglers.com. Anglers can also call (619) 972-1503 for more information.