It's November and that means two things: Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and it's time for the annual Halibut Derby in Dana Point.
Yep, Dana Wharf Sportfishing in Dana Point harbor kicks off its 5th annual Halibut Derby today and people come from all over just to try and catch such a fish.
"We have one passenger actually fly in from Texas to fish twice a month," said Donna Kalez, general manager of Dana Wharf Sportfishing. "This area has long been known as 'The Bass Fishing Capital of the West' thanks to the incredible calico and sand bass fishing that anglers fishing out of the 40-year-old landing have come to love. But in recent seasons, it’s been halibut—some of them big halibut that the crew and regulars call 'barn doors'—that have made for some incredible catches out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing."
And it's not beginner's luck either to catch a halibut.
“We’ve been catching a lot of halibut all year, and we’re not even ‘trying’ for them—we’ve been getting them while on our bass fishing trips,” said Brian Woolley, a long time Dana Wharf Sportfishing Captain on the boat Sum Fun. “I think we’re going to see some good halibut counts, and some big fish, in this year’s derby."
All the derbies have had two things in common: big bucks and big halibut.
The last derby ended up having $5,915 handed out in prize money plus lots of others prizes, with Peggy Stein earning $2,957.50, or half the jackpot, thanks to her 43-pound, 10-ounce halibut. She is the one to beat this year.
How does it work? The derby works makes entering possible for anyone fishing out of Dana Wharf from Nov. 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013. On Fridays and later both Friday and Sunday, the landing offers special trips that fish from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Most—if not all—of the fishing is done while drifting, so the anglers can cover water and find the productive halibut areas, which range from Dana Point to San Onofre.
The trips run from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are limited to 25 passengers. Cost is $64, with $5 going into the prize pool. (Rental tackle and fishing licenses are available for those needing them.)
But that’s not the only way to win and enter the derby. Any angler fishing on an open party half-day or three-quarter-day trip can enter the derby for $5 (due at check in).
At the end of the derby, the angler who catches the largest halibut will win half of the money in the jackpot. The remaining 50 percent will go to the angler who wins the May 5 “Fish Off” which will have the anglers who caught the top 25 halibut compete in a free one-day “Fish Off” in which the angler catching the biggest halibut of the day walks off the boat with the loot.
Yet, you don’t have to catch the biggest fish of the derby, or on the “Fish Off” to win, Kalez said. Every month, the angler who catches the biggest halibut will win a rod/reel combination from Okuma to go with a $100 gift card to Dana Wharf, as well as a tackle grab bag from Hogan’s Bait and Tackle.
New sponsors of the event this year besides Hogan Bait and Tackle also include FISHHOUND.com and Turners Outdoorsman.
Complete rules can be found at danawharf.com/derby.htm
You can buy tickets for the fishing trips at zerve.com/danawharf or 800-979-3370.
For more information, call 949-496-5794
Additionally, check out this recent YouTube posted on Laguna Niguel Patch called: "How to catch a halibut in Dana Point."