BY MIKE STEVENS
SAN DIEGO – The seventh-annual San Diego Offshore Jackpot (SDOJ) erupted at San Diego’s Scott Street Landings on Friday resulting in quite the spectacle in front of H&M Landing where tuna where weighed and heroes were made. The top three fish tipped the scale at well over 100 pounds each, and the perpetual trophy will be returning to Point Loma Sportfishing after spending the last year at Fisherman’s Landing after they claimed it in 2020.
The winning fish was a 178.8-pound bluefin tuna caught by Corona angler Gonzo Ortiz aboard the New Lo-An out of Point Loma Sportfishing. This was his fourth appearance in the SDOJ – always on the New Lo-An – and he hooked that fish on a 250g Daiwa Zakana Jig early Saturday morning. By the time the crowd cleared following the weigh-in, awards and raffle on Saturday night, Ortiz was holding a check for $1,750 as his share of the $3,500 jackpot total that’s distributed to the anglers catching the top 3 tuna in the SDOJ, Costa sunglasses and a $100 gift card for Huk Performance Fishing apparel for nabbing the big fish on his boat and a Daiwa Proteus rod and Saltiga reel combo for catching the biggest fish out of the landing he fished out of.
The victory for the New Lo-An was its third since the SDOJ kicked off in 2015, and that includes back-to-back wins in 2017 and 2018. Captain Adam Williams was at the helm of the New Lo-An for this year’s event when the trophy was reclaimed for Point Loma Sportfishing.. The SDOJ is as much of a competition between H&M Landing, Point Loma Sportfishing and Fisherman’s Landing as well as between the participating vessels and their crews.
The second place winner was Ricardo Guttierrez of Oxnard who knuckled down on a 174-pound bluefin aboard the Tomahawk out of Fisherman’s Landing who sent down a sinker rig on 130-pound leader. There were rumors that a 200-pound tuna was being brought to the docks by the Tomahawk, but the scale proved otherwise this time around. Guttierrez’s fish was good enough for 35 percent of the jackpot total, which worked out to $1,225 bucks. He also picked up a Huk gift card and Costas for the big fish out of his landing of choice.
The winning vessel in last year’s SDOJ, that was far from the extent of the Tomahawk’s showing in 2021 as she also landed the third place fish. Angel Garcia of Baldwin Park used a Daiwa SK Jig in connecting to his tuna that would ring up at 165.2 pounds good for $525 cash. It’s also worth noting that a 120.6 pounder was also weighed in by the Tomahawk which stood as the fourth-biggest fish brought to the scale in the entire event. The New Lo-An’s second- and third-biggest tuna went 113.4 and 108.4 pounds.
While the landings angled for the trophy and anglers were gunning for big fish and a shot at the top three spots, there were plenty of winners further down the leaderboard as well. Daiwa always has a big presence at the SDOJ, and this year they put up a total of nine of those Proteus/Saltiga combos up for grabs at the 2021 installment of the annual event. Three were awarded to Early Bird Raffle winners, three more for the biggest fish out of each landing and the remaining trio of Daiwa combos went as prizes for the general raffle that all participating anglers were entered in. It was great to see the winning and third-place fish come in on two different Daiwa jigs in the event they support so significantly.
Costa not only gave a pair of shades to the angler sticking the biggest fish on each boat, but each captain scored a pair as well. Gear Coop in Orange County sent down two pairs of Costa sunglasses along with a Simms backpack as general raffle prizes. WON subscriptions and Daiwa hats were also among the raffle prizes/
Huk Performance Fishing apparel is involved in just about every Western Outdoor News event including its charters, and they put up $100 gift cards for the anglers catching the biggest tuna on each boat in the SDOJ.
All anglers participating in the SDOJ received a Frogg Toggs FTX Gear Waterproof Cinch Sack stuffed with a spool of HI-SEAS Bluewater Fluorocarbon and Gamakatsu’s new utility G- 3200 G-box.
The sold-out sportboats participating in the 2021 SDOJ included the New Lo-An and T-Bird out of Point Loma Sportfishing, H&M Landing’s Producer, Excalibur, Old Glory and Daiwa Pacific and the Tomahawk and Condor out of Fisherman’s Landing. The Condor experienced technical issues and had to return to the dock, but its anglers received refunds, were able to participate in the raffle, and a couple of them were winners.
The SDOJ is the result of WON looking to deliver a tournament atmosphere to sport boat anglers that was previously only available to private boaters. Those looking to participate would simply book an overnighter through the landings on the boat of their choice, and $20 of each $300 ticket went toward the overall jackpot.
The Scott Street landings overlooking the docks that represent exactly why San Diego stands as the sportfishing capital of the world serve as the perfect backdrop for an event putting Southern California anglers on a level playing field. Adding to the setting are anglers showing up to jump on their own trips that night, or heading up the ramp to pick up their fish at the landings and general foot traffic who can’t help but stop and take in the spectacle. It’s really all the elements that make West Coast sportfishing and its deep history so special, encapsulated in one scene.