BY BOB SEMERAU
VENTURA — The fight had been brewing for nearly a year. Contenders began signing up to get their chance at big prize money in the months prior to the Wednesday, April 7, scheduled bout of the 2021 WON Rockfish Rumble out of Ventura Harbor Sportfishing, with a trio of boats more than ready to get it on.
Getting back on track, the 2021 iteration of the WON-RFR, came early in the season with new regulations allowing bottom fishing as deep as 100 fathoms. Those in it to win it came prepared for deep-water angling with large capacity reels and heavy weights.
Ventura Harbor Sportfishing owner-operator and legendary sportboat Captain, Tucker McCombs, offered up the three boats for the battle.
Endeavor, Pacific Eagle, and Island Spirit loaded up anglers, leaving the dock on schedule at 5:00 a.m. Getting dramatically differing results, the boats had similar strategies of fishing the deep-water channel between Santa Cruz Island and the mainland rather than run out to any of the Channel Islands.
During check-in, everyone received dry bags from Frogg Toggs each holding spools of HI-SEAS 30- pound super premium fluorocarbon leader material and a Gamakatsu G-Box 3200 utility case. Mag-12 Swimbaits and HUK Performance Gear supplied prizes for first and second place fish on each boat to go along with cash awards for the biggest fish overall.
Soft winds riffled the waters heading out to the targeted zone but soon would pick up, making ideal drift-fishing conditions along the Central California’s Gold Coast.
Captain Cody Rogers helped competitors by finding plenty of deep water holes holding reds and rockfish to fill out angler’s score cards. The first drifts aboard the 65-foot sportfisher Island Spirit showed that anchovies might be the key to success on this day. For anglers looking to deliver a knockout punch, the ‘chovie-squid meatball was the perfect combination at the rail.
“Anglers unwilling to make the call and switch to baited two-hook dropper loop rigs instead of jigs or big plastics found themselves short at the end of the day,” reported WON rep Dylan Depres from the decks of Island Spirit.
Swimbait master KJ Kevrette fished aboard Island Spirit as well and brought along some of his new “Mag-12 Swimbaits” two-hook ganyon rigs that proved to be the right combination for angler Broc Petrey. Petrey bagged a limit of rockfish using the Mag-12 Swimbaits ganyon rig, including the second place overall red weighing-in at 6.4-pounds to receive a $100 certificate for HUK gear and some nice prize money of $205 in cash.
Whether using ‘chovies or squid, the hardest hitting aboard Island Spirit was being done on the Mag-12 rigs by KJ, Broc and Oscar Ochoa. All KO’d heavyweight rockfish on the baits with Oscar putting a beat-down on a red that went on to win a $70.00 split of third place overall prize money.
Not to be outdone fighting lady anglers Diana Cortez, Lee Meneses, Kyrstin Cloar, Helen Sun and Tami Shepphird hit back hard with big rockfish of their own.
Just across the water fishing the “Dome” nearby, Endeavor set up drifts and found plenty of ac- tion on rockfish to 5.2-pounds.
“Green light, go, go, go!” came the call from the wheelhouse as Ventura Harbor Sportfishing owner and skipper of Endeavor, Capt. Tucker McCombs, set up drops along the rocks 500 to 600 feet below the waterline. The newest arrival at the landing, the 60-foot sportboat, has undergone a makeover, including refitted galley and seating, as well as refreshed bunk rooms.
Back at the stern Dana Point angler, Isabella “Izzy” Anderson, fished the drifts and showed her ability to throw a punch by landing sizable rockfish throughout the day. Izzy’s 5-pound rockfish earned the angler a Mag-12 Swimbaits kit filled with assorted jigs from the trip sponsor. A short distance up the port rail, Linda Leighton, only recently moved back down to the CenCal Coastal area from Seattle, and found some fish for the bag as well.
Constantly delivering knockouts aboard Endeavor, local Port Hueneme angler Tim “Silver Dollar” Moore loaded up his sack with quality reds, rockfish and bocaccio. Tim’s biggest fish of the day was a 5.2-pound bocaccio and earned him the boat jackpot, a $100 certificate for HUK Performance Gear, and a $70 split of third place overall prize money. Tim is an avid WON reader and participates in the Big Bear Troutfest each year as well, with a penchant for gifting silver dollars, “for luck.”
“Pacific Eagle (owned by Captain Mike Mings) had it tough from the get-go, but the number one bait was the live anchovy,” reported WON associate, Andrew Mack from the decks of the 55-foot sportboat.
That all changed around 8:15 a.m. when lingcod began to bite for the anglers fishing at the pointy end of Pacific Eagle.
“I was fishing the bow area with my dad, Bernie, when I dropped a double dropper loop with one-pound weight and live anchovy down to the bottom,” said Richard Daverin from Tehachapi when it was all over. “I also got a second ling for a limit of lingcod and a limit of rockfish.”
Richard’s toothy ling weighed in at 10.2 pounds to be the heaviest fish on the boat and first overall for the 2021 WON Rockfish Rumble. Electing to take the $100 certificate for HUK Performance Gear, the angler also took home $345 in prize money.
Santa Paula angler Gabriel Molina caught a 4-pound ling to win the Mag-12 kit as second place fighter aboard Pacific Eagle.
Throughout the day the three boats danced around the ring, fishing the deep-water zone between the mainland and Santa Cruz Island, searching for that perfect spot to land a knockout punch.
Aboard Island Spirit and Endeavor, anglers fought hard to get into the prize money and in the end, prizes were spread across all
three boats with Pacific Eagle once again being the winner of the
WON Rockfish Rumble for the nal move aboard Endeavor in clock ticked away, the final bell sounded,andtherunhomebegan. Scales at the landing showed the real numbers and Pacific Eagle clearly had once-again delivered a
TKO win in this year’s WON-Ventura Sportfishing Rockfish Rumble, with everyone involved in the battle looking forward to next year’s event.