Halibut Derby Underway in Dana Point

Halibut fishing in Dana Point includes an annual contest at Dana Wharf Sportfishing. Catch a big halibut and you could win cash and prizes.

Do you know Dana Wharf is the leading landing in SoCal when it comes to catching halibut?

Dana Wharf Sportfishing, in Dana Point Harbor has long been known as “The Bass Fishing Capital of the West” thanks to the incredible calico and sand bass fishing that anglers fishing out of the 40-year-old landing have come to love. But in recent seasons it’s been halibut—some of them big halibut that the crew and regulars call “barn doors”—that have made for some incredible catches out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing.

“We’ve been catching a lot of halibut all year, and we’re not even ‘trying’ for them—we’ve been getting them while on our bass fishing trips,” says Brian Woolley, a long time Dana Wharf Sportfishing captain on the boat Sum Fun. “I think we’re going to see some good halibut counts, and some big fish, in this year’s derby.”                    

As its way of showing both regular anglers and tourists passing through the incredible halibut fishing that the waters around Dana Point hold, Dana Wharf Sportfishing kicked off its inaugural halibut derby a few seasons ago. Three have ran in total leading up to the forth annual derby that kicked off Nov. 1; all the derbies have had two things in common: big bucks and big halibut.

The last derby ended up having $4,030 get handed out, with Mike Knudtson getting $2,015 of it thanks to his 43-pound, 8-ounce halibut.

The way the derby works makes entering possible for anyone fishing out of Dana Wharf from Nov. 1. 2011 to April 30, 2012. On Fridays, the landing offers special trips that fish from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Most—if not all—of the fishing is done while drifting, so the anglers can cover water and find the productive halibut areas, which range from Dana Point to San Onofre. The trips run from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are limited to 25 passengers. Cost is $59, with $5 going into the prize pool. (Rental tackle and fishing licenses are available for those needing them.)

But that’s not the only way to win and enter the derby. Any angler fishing on an open party half-day or three-quarter-day trip can enter the derby for $5 (due at check in).

At the end of the derby, the angler who catches the largest halibut will win half of the money in the jackpot. But here’s where it gets really fun! The remaining 50 percent will go to the angler who wins the May 6 “Fish Off” which will have the anglers who caught the top 25 halibut compete in a free one-day “Fish Off” in which the angler catching the biggest halibut of the day walks off the boat with the loot.

Yet, you don’t have to catch the biggest fish of the derby, or on the “Fish Off” to win. Every month the angler who catches the biggest halibut will win a rod/reel combination from Okuma to go with a $100 gift card to Dana Wharf.

Complete rules as well as current leader board can be found at http://www.danawharf.com/contest_09-10.html.

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