Lone angler who’s fished every WON Striper Derby wins it in 2020
LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. – Running a month later than usual which meant conditions were going to include scorching heat and spring-break-like crowds and boat traffic, most anglers participating in the 38th annual WON Lake Havasu Striper Derby had a “well, maybe this is the year I win!” At check in at Anderson Toyota, my reply was often, “something good has to happen this year, right?”
Two days later, something good happened.
The new Striper Derby champions are Bob and Michael Jones who turned in a 2-day weight (10 fish limits each day) for 65.23 pounds which held off Day 1 leaders John DiFederico and Mike Bosak who finished second-overall with 60.33 pounds of Havasu linesides.
Bobby Jones was Team 38 in honor of the 38th running of the event and the fact that he’s the only angler who’s fished in every one of them. After being handed the first-place trophy from tournament director Billy Egan and thrusting it skyward, an emotional Bobby Jones took the mic and told the rest of the field of anglers, friends and families that he “always rents a pontoon boat for these” and has made it an annual event for his family.
Prior to the awards ceremonty, he approached WON’s Bill Jaenicke – who has attended 36 of the 38 Striper Derbies himself – and asked how he did. Not wanting to let the cat out of the bag, Jaenicke said, “you did pretty good. Easily top 10.”
Scanning over the final team standings, the top 15 weights included two totals over 60 pounds, 11 over 50. Scott Kelly had the Big Fish of the event with a 9.64-pound striper that earned him a cow tuna trip on the Puerto Vallarta-based El Pescador operation.
The Klamath/Suzuki boat/motor/trailer Grand Raffle Prize went to Alfonso Rodriguez of Lynwood who fished with his wife, Lizzette Blanco.
Todd Langston put on a show in the Big Fish and High-Roller elements of Striper Derby and collected four checks in the amount of $990, $660, $336 and $168, and a pile of $178 Blind Bogey checks went out to a long list of surprised anglers, some of which went to teams who only weighed in a single fish, including one under 2 pounds.
The inflatable, portable and very cool Sea Eagle FishSkiff16 matched with a 6-hp Suzuki outboard went to Roger Hamilton of Riverside as one of the big raffle prizes. Other raffle winners took home Engel Coolers, SKB TacPaks, Abu Garcia rods and reels, and WON reps on hand made sure every winner got a couple fistfuls of lures, fluoro and line from Berkley to sweeten the deal.
The overall chatter at this installment of Striper Derby was an appreciation in the fact that, under the circumstances, it was pulled off. Sure, everyone would prefer it in May, and there is exactly zero consideration of ever permanently (or even temporarily) keeping it in June.
Fishing was as expected in June: a lot of bait fish and a lot of those caught first thing in the morning. It was either bait-and-wait on anchor (with or without chummed cut anchovies) or guys finding the right current and drifting along with bait either fly-lined or Carolina-rigged. There were some scattered troll, umbrella rig and swimbait fish, but it was very-much a bait-barrage overall.
Look for a full recap of the 2020 WON Lake Havasu Striper Derby in the next issue of WON.