Under pleasant blue skies the weight scale boldly said 33.5 lbs for angler Tim Sheridan of Venice CA. He is a happy man as you can see from his smile. He won the 38th Annual Marina Del Rey Halibut Derby held June 8 and 9, 2013 and will be going to Sitka Point Lodge in Alaska as his first place prize!
The waves were high for surfing but wide and easy on the fishermen. This derby had a good contingent of dedicated anglers who fished all over Santa Monica Bay for our beloved local California Halibut. Even though it is a delicious fish to eat many are being released alive not only to earn a weight bonus in the tournament but to grow and breed more halibut. Marina Del Rey Anglers has been a leader in conservation efforts and donated the live fish weighed in to Hubbs-Seaworld fish hatchery in Carlsbad. The live fish count was 3 fish on Saturday and 4 fish on Sunday for a nice addition of 7 new breeders into the hatchery.
The Derby has been a vital source of info to scientists on halibut populations. MDRA hopes to again have halibut as a fish being restocked into the local bay. Currently the anglers are working with scientists to develop a stock assessment of halibut in the bay. The hatchery is actively raising and releasing white seabass. The white seabass pens have been the clubs principle conservation effort for the past 16 years.
This charity event also funds a major youth fishing activity of MDRA. The fishing club has organized 28 trips for this summer and intends to take between 550 and 600 kids fishing for free this summer on the local party boat the Betty-O. Club members ride along as mentors and teach the children about the ocean environment and good sportsmanship when fishing. When taking special needs kids there is often a 1:1 ratio of mentors to the kids. Last year MDRA received an award from the County Housing Authority and LAPD for the programs’ positive effects on the kids that they serve.
The anglers in this 38th Annual Halibut Derby were undaunted by the typical “June Gloom” that started the weekend off. They fished all weekend and returned to the dock with their catch for photos and smiles. Even if they did not catch a big one or even one of the top targeted species of Halibut or White Seabass or Calico Bass or Rock Fish. The mood on the docks was one of old friends being greeted by old friends. Lady anglers turned in fish for a trophy. Youth anglers turned in fish too, learning the sport and gaining a love of the ocean from their Moms and Dads.
The Halibut Derby Chairman John Szymura said
“ I was impressed by the nice quality fish that came in. Many of the fish that came in alive were big enough to really be valuable to the hatchery. I’m stokked about that. ” He also thanked all the volunteers and the many businesses that supported the event with many valuable donations”.
He estimated the prizes awarded and raffle swag easily went over $20,000 in total value.
The top lady angler entrant was Stacy Dumais who weighed in a 9.7 lb bag of rockfish, she won a rod and reel combo and a trophy. The other lady anglers received goody bags. Two top youth got trophies and prizes. Michael Uchio’s 5.1 lb bag of rockfish took first and Finley Wyatt’s 2.76 lb calico (released) took second. The other youth who fished got goody bags even though they did not weigh in a fish.
Teams of angers competed for a big cash prize. The winning team was Jim Williams and Greg Busby. They weighed in 4 fish for a great point average. Jim caught a 12 lb halibut on day one and an 18.9 on day two. Greg weighed in an 18.4 lb halibut on day one and an 8.4 on day two. They did not have the largest fish but their consistency paid off. Greg eventually admitted that they targeted the Hermosa and Manhattan Reefs.
All of the anglers were congratulated by the beautiful Miss MDR Halibut, Chantel Zales who posed with the winners, and all fishermen who participated. She enjoyed the day and brought the sun out with her smile.
For more information regarding the fishing club, visit www.mdranglers.com.