WON/Ventura Harbor Sportfishing annual Rockfish Rumble: another instant classic

CHAD GIERLICH of Hookup Baits showing Rockfish Rumble anglers how to get down with the Donkey RIg.


VENTURA —In the fight game, you just must have a plan. And that plan will either knock ‘em dead or maybe land you on the mat.

This year’s Western Outdoor News-Ventura Harbor Sportfishing-Rockfish Rumble (RFR) showed amazingly differing results for all the boats in the competition.

Ventura Harbor Sportfishing owner-operator and legendary sportboat captain, Tucker McCombs, sent out three boats to go the distance and fight for a win in the 2024 WON RFR.


Scheduled as an early season bout, the 2024 iteration of the WON-RFR, had boats fishing down to 100-fathoms, or 600-hundred-feet. With calm seas throughout the day’s competition mid-sized weights hit the water and the fishing turned into a free-for-all from the ringing of the first bell.

Each angler received a goody bag at check-in holding a 300-yard spool of Izorline 20-pound monofilament line, Gamakatsu hook pack, Costa Sunglasses accessories, and a 15% discount card for trip sponsor, Hookup Baits.

All three boats got off the docks at 5:00 a.m. and headed to their respective tactical corners. Captain Mike Mings, owner/operator of the 50-foot, Pacific Eagle, decided to run northwest, up the channel, to a few special spots giving maximum fishing time.

Californian and Island Spirit, loaded up anglers and headed toward a spot not fished in many, many years.

PARKER OAKLEY’S FIRST RED is a fish the 10-year-old will always remember for his day at the 2024 RFR WON Rockfish Rumble.

Captain Cody Rogers, at the helm of the 65-foot sportfisher, Californian, and Captain Danial Hadawi, piloting Island Spirit, made a plan that involved a long ride of over three-hours’ time.

Aboard each boat reps from Hookup Baits showed anglers how to use the various sizes of soft tube baits depending on targeted species and depth of water. Al Vazques, Frank Santiago, and Chad Geirlich each brought along a gear box filled with a wide variety of great-looking Hookup Baits for all the anglers to test out in real-time. Hookup Baits prize packs were also on hand for top anglers of the event.

Up for grabs was an assortment of prizes for competitors, with the top three fish from each boat to be weighed-in at days end.  Hats from AFTCO and a hat and mask from COSTA, a nifty pair of pliers, and a fillet knife would go to each of the top three. Costa also threw in gift cards to sweeten the deal.

LING COD KID, Maximino Galan, 12-years-old from San Pedro, on his first ever outing decked several nice fish including a prized toothy buckethead.

But for those able to land a knockout punch, the event was all about the cash. Prize money of $445.00 and top honors would go to the one outstanding blow delivered by that angler still standing at the final bell. The angler with the second-place fish earns $ 310.00, and third place gets a breezy $ 140.00.

While two boats continued their long journey offshore, Capt. Mings settled Pacific Eagle into the first drift of the day. A slow, scratch bite gave up a few rockfish of the mid-size range, and plenty of whitefish to begin filling sacks. Several moves over the relatively “inshore” waters gave up limits of rockfish and plenty of action.

Frequent WON charter angler, Luther “Bigg Lou” Terrell fished his electric reel with wife “Lubu” in a celebration of life for brother, Herbert James Terrell, who recently passed. Lou and Lubu took home their share of fish from the day aboard Pacific Eagle and memories of days gone by.

Taking the Pacific Eagle boat jackpot and landing the big fish of the day, angler Louie Tejeda boated a nice-sized red weighing-in at 5.6 pounds.

WON rep, Landon Thomas, reported from the decks of Californian saying these anglers were prepared for a fight.

“Fishing Hidden Reef after that long ride was well worth the trip,” reported Thomas. “Massive salmon grouper (bocaccio) and some huge reds came over the rail, keeping deckhands busy all day,” concluded Thomas at the weigh-in. WON Rep Thomas also noted that Californian cook, Joey, makes a killer boat burger.

The landing had loaded the tanks of all three competing boats with plenty of live sardines and each boat had cut-squid strips available for anglers to pin onto their hooks.

Hookup Baits fooled many of the larger model reds making them the go-to swimbaits. But a standard two-hook double dropper loop rigs on and 12-to-16-ounce weight knocked out plenty of fish for anglers in the Rumble.

Two great kids fished from the decks of Californian and both found their first rockfish. Local Oxnard angler, Parker Oakley, 10-years-old, nailed several reds and other assorted rockfish while young 12-year-old San Pedro angler, Maximino Galan, decked a sizable ling cod as his big first of the Rumble.

With the last round of action done and a long ride home, the two offshore boats headed for weigh-in and the tale of the scale. Pacific Eagle got there first and weighed three fish, the largest being angler Louie Tejeda’s red weighing-in at 5.6 pounds.

With all three boat’s big fish weighed in the final tally showed that Hidden Bank was the place to stand and fight for the WON 2024 RFR.

Hard-hitting rumbler John Lau pounded a huge red aboard Californian for third place overall. The fish showed a mean 9.74 pounds at the official landing scale for prize money of $140.00 and loads of swag.

Striking some serious blows aboard Island Spirit, angler Gary Agard decked an even larger red, weighing-in at 10.2-pounds, for a solid second-place victory. The fish earned Agard $ 310.00 cash and loads of prizes.

The fighter still standing when the final bell was rung was one from Californian, once again.

An Oxnard angler, Johnnie Williams, smacked down the competition with a massive salmon grouper weighing-in at 10.29-pounds for the win and title of Top Rumbler 2024. The cash award of $ 445.00 and swag pack, along with top honors were given out as the crowd cheered the newly crowned champion.

BIG THREE WINNERS, (l-r) Landon Thomas hands out the big bucks. Johnnie Williams, Gary Agard, John Lau, took home prize money totaling $ 895.00

Aboard Pacific Eagle anglers fought hard to get into the prize money, and in the end, prizes were spread across two boats with Island Spirit and Californian standing on the podium for the 2024 WON Rockfish Rumble.


WON-Ventura Harbor Sportfishing 2024 Rockfish Rumble Final Standings


First Place         Californian      Johnnie Williams   10.29-pound salmon grouper

Second Place     Island Spirit    Gary Agard             10.20-pound red

Third Place        Californian      John Lau                 9.74-pound red


Ventura Harbor Sportfishing (805) 676-3474  www.venturasportfishing.com

1500 Anchors Way Drive, Ventura, CA 93001