Somewhere off our local coast, where the ocean waters seem as blue and limitless as the sky above, massive fish bide their time.
“We had one [mako shark] over 1,100 pounds,” said Jim Milles, director of the Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club’s 2012 fishing tournaments. “There are some really big fish out there.”
On Friday, June 29, anglers of all ages are welcome to participate in the club’s Grand Slam Fishing Tournament out of Channel Islands Harbor. The three-day event focuses exclusively on calico bass, white sea bass and halibut, with cash prizes for the largest catches. An Open Mako Shark Tournament starts up the following month on July 13.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” said Milles. “Every boat gets a flag to designate that they’re in a tournament and then everyone is free to take off and go. Our start fishing time [for the first tournament] is Friday night at 8 p.m.”
Event organizers are sensitive to the growing environmental concerns associated with sport fishing.
“The idea isn’t to kill a bunch of fish,” said Stuart Rose, tournament co-founder. “Most of the fish get released. We have rules that regulate [and] there are penalties for bringing in small fish. Fishermen are really conservationists at heart.”
Milles echoes a similar sentiment.
“We’re very conscious of the environmental impact of the tournament,” said Milles. “The mako [shark] population is in pretty good shape; we’re on top of it. Maybe only a half-dozen sharks are taken.”
And the fish that are taken sometimes benefit hungry people who never participated in the tournament to begin with.
“Anything that someone can’t keep, we’ll give to charity,” said Rose. “Nothing goes to waste.”
Cash prizes for the Grand Slam Fishing Tournament include $2,500 for the largest of any individual species caught and $5,000 for the Grand Slam catch of all three species with the heaviest combined weight.
Besides the ultimate thrill of being on the water with a rod and reel in hand, anglers who pay the $135 entry fee for the Grand Slam Fishing Tournament are treated to a prime rib banquet and a free raffle.
Ultimately, the tournaments come down to just having fun on the water.
“Fishing used to be the number one recreational sport in the U.S.,” said Rose, who points to related expenses like license fees as a reason for the lost popularity. “We [want to] bring out people to have a good time. It’s about having a good time together and learning something from each other.”
The Grand Slam Fishing Tournament is Friday, June 29 – Sunday, July 1. The Open Mako Shark Tournament is Friday, July 13 – Sunday, July 15. For entry forms, rules or other information, contact Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club at 985-7292 or www.pcyc.org.