Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2014 Pacific Outfitter's Trinidad Rockfish Wars IV Kayak Fishing Tournament Results and Photos

On Saturday, September 13th 2014, Pacific Outfitters hosted their annual multi-species saltwater kayak fishing tournament; Trinidad Rockfish Wars in beautiful Trinidad, California. As much as I wanted to fish the tournament, my duties as an organizer took priority. I ran safety and shot photos before heading down to Eureka at 11am to teach kayak classes at Paddlefest. It was a busy weekend, and I get to fish here all the time! This was about showcasing Trinidad, CA; Humboldt County's kayak fishing paradise, to our out of town guests, and to thank our local kayak anglers for their support.
This was the fourth year of the annual tournament, and the biggest turn out in tournament history. With such incredible fishing in such a beautiful location, it's easy to see why kayak anglers came from as far away as Los Angeles, Portland, Sacramento, and all over the West Coast to spend a fun filled weekend fishing with friends.

This tournament is a little different than the rest; All human powered craft were welcome to compete, including sit inside and sit on top kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards. We also added a few special categories such as the Barbie Pole and Handline Challenges.
Our goal was to take kayak fishing back to it's roots. Back to the days before the kayak fishing industry exploded, when it didn't matter how you got to the fishing grounds, only that you did. Back to the days before corporate sponsorship when anglers used what ever they had available and just went out and had fun.

The event began with a pre-tournament safety meeting at Pacific Outfitters Eureka, on Friday evening where we welcomed 91 registered competitors from all over the west coast.
Early the next morning, anglers rallied at Trinidad Harbor. 45 two man teams went through a safety inspection on the beach before the official first launch time set for 5:45am. At 5:45, the competition began, and most contestants hit the water as quick as they could to get to their targeted areas before any one else.

Others elected to take it easy, waiting until first light before launching off the beach and onto the ocean.

Rockfish Wars competitors were greeted with mild conditions; NW swell 3-5ft at 8 seconds, N wind to 5kts, and mild temperatures of 50-65F. However at first light a heavy but patchy fog crept in, testing even the most seasoned kayak angler's navigational skills.

The patchy fog didn't dampen spirits or catching. The bite was red hot. Within 15 minutes of first launch, fish were being boated. Including the big fish winner of the tournament, a 39" lingcod.

As the fog lifted, we were greeted with one of the most picturesque views on the California Coast:


Anglers were required to return to the launch by 2pm for weigh in. As the results came in, one thing was clear; the level of talent and skill held by competitors was impressive. One of the biggest cabezon we've seen this year was wrangled by Kiet Pham, who missed the deadline for registration due to other obligations but was able to drive 400 miles through the night to make launch and fish with us. This pig measured 28 3/4 inches and over 19 pounds.
The "Biggest Fish" Award went to Chris Coleman of Team Redneck Yacht Club, who boated a solid 39" lingcod.

Other Biggest Fish Winners included:

Mark Bayles with a 17" greenling
Kenny Baker with a 23" black rockfish
Matt Baron with a 14.5" blue rockfish
Matthew Mayes with a 25" cabezon
Ron Saufferer with a 21.5" vermillion rockfish.
The "Handline Challenge" was met by Pacific Outfitters own Michael Owens, who in his canoe landed a 27" lingcod with no rod or reel to take the category win. (Michael was the only handline entry. Next year I won't be double booked and plan on taking that from you!)

The "Barbie Pole Challenge" was met head on by Mike Bailey, who landed a 30 3/4" lingcod on his stock Spider Man kid's fishing rod to take the category. Several competitors switched to the kids pole after landing several species with conventional gear, but Mike stayed true to the Spider Man pole for the entire tournament.

Team Lost Coast Anglers made a great video of the kiddie pole action:

For the overall tournament competition, 8 eligible species of fish may be turned in for points, with a maximum of the 6 best fish scored on a points per inch scoring system.

Species/points eligible:
*GREENLING – 11 PTS PER INCH                           
As anglers returned to the launch, it was clear that the competition was steep.

Team "Bald Eagles with a strong showing:
Team "Humboldt Hookers" shows their stoke:
Team "Redneck Yacht Club" and Chris Coleman's Biggest Fish winning 39" Lingcod.
Team "Slayers" struggling to lift their load:
Team "Straight Hook" with a strong showing
Team "Tsunami" styling it.
That evening after weigh in, competitors gathered at Emerald Forest of Trinidad for a family friendly fish fry & pot luck before the awards ceremony,
Winners were awarded in all categories including the grand prize of a pair of Old Town Predator Kayaks. Cher-ae Heights Casino, NRS, Sea to Summit, Lowrance, GoPro, Midland, Big Hammer, B2Squid, Blue Lake Casino, Johns Cigars, Ice Breaker, and Mad River Brewing contributed prizes for winners and participants as well. In all, over $6000 in prizes were awarded. The overall results are:
10th Place: Team Cast N' Blast (905.50 pts)
9th Place: Team Cod Pieces (909 pts)
8th Place: Team Straight Hook (913.25 pts)
7th Place: Team Owens & Bayles (940 pts)
6th Place: Team Knot Again (980.25 pts)
5th Place: Team Bald Eagles (1006.25 pts)
4th Place: Team Scooter (1036 pts)

Our top three teams finished neck and neck, with only two points separating second and third place wins.
3rd Place: Team aMayesing Brothers - Mathew & Chris Mayes (1056 pts)

2nd Place: Team Bloody Decks - Boyce Meredith & Cameron Pascual (1058 pts)


And the overall winners and Trinidad Rockfish Wars IV Tournament Champions are...
1st Place: Team Rodfathers - Rob Knoles & Adam Koons

Congratulations to all winners and participants! Thank you all from far and near, and thank you to all of our sponsors, supporters, friends, and family for making this year's Trinidad Rockfish Wars the biggest and best yet. We're already looking forward to next years tournament.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Season Update: Kayak Fishing, Sea Kayaking, Tournaments, Festivals, & Symposiums

I've been on the water so much this summer I've neglected you again. For those of you interested in more frequent "quickie" updates on my antics, you are welcome to follow me on Facebook or Instagram. For those of you who prefer more detailed content, here's what I've been up to, and what's coming this fall:

By July my Guided Sea Kayaking Tours with Pacific Outfitters Adventures & Academy had taken off. The Trinidad Sea Kayak Tour proved to be the most popular with locals and visitors alike. With easy access, incredible scenery, epic wildlife, and great fishing, it's easy to see why. 
 (Looking North towards Trinidad Head)

 (Even Sunset Magazine agrees!)

Those seeking thrills and spills with adequate skills find what they're looking for in the Trinidad Rock Garden Tour option:
Those after the more serene pursuits of observing and photographing wildlife such as whales, otters, seals, sea lions, porpoise, shore birds, and inter-tidal zone marine species are not disappointed either. Angler's are rewarded with rockfish, lingcod, greenling, dungeness crab, king salmon, halibut, and more.

Those of you familiar with me know my kayak fishing trips are geared towards sea kayakers using handlines. For those interested in fishing specific kayaks and rods & reels, we have an incredible guide & local legend; Eric Stockwell, leading our Ocean Kayak Fishing Trips. Eric is one heck of an angler and all around good guy. I have followed his work/play through his youtube videos for years.

Bottom fishing season runs May 15th-October 31st in Trinidad, so you still have time. September and October can bring some of our best weather and fishing of the season. Crab season comes to us soon after bottom fishing closes.

One of the things I love the most about paddling & fishing Trinidad is the flat water launch. Not having to launch & land into surf allows me to easily take people new to sea kayaking out on the ocean to share in the unique experience normally out of their reach. I love nothing more than seeing their faces light up with wonder and excitement when feeling ocean swell for the first time, or encountering wildlife in it's natural environment.

I've also had the opportunity to lead kayak tours on the Lost Coast and Shelter Cove for California Bureau of Land Management's program to educate the public on wilderness ethics and leave no trace principles. This is another area within Pacific Outfitters Adventures & Academy's reach. Much like Trinidad, Shelter Cove offers a flat water ocean launch, opening up incredible touring and fishing opportunities, as well as great surf for those with the skills.

In July, the first of three articles I wrote on Handline Fishing for Sea Kayakers for Ocean Paddler Magazine was published, and the second is set for publication in September.
Trinidad Rockfish Wars IV is happening September 13th, 2014, and there are only a few spaces left. If you're looking to test your metal or just have a good time with fellow kayak anglers in a beautiful setting, TRW4 will be loads of fun. There are some truly awesome prizes up for grabs, including two Old Town Predator kayaks or a private poker match, prime rib dinner for 20 with a cigar humidor filled with cigars donated by Cher-Ae Heights Casino & John’s Cigars! Other prize packages consist of Char-Broil BBQ’s, Hotel Packages, Gift Cards, Waterproof HD Cameras, Camping Gear, Kayaking Gear and Fishing Gear. We rounded up over $6000 in prizes for this tournament. You've still got a little time to sign up. It's going to be an awesome event! I'll give you a full write up with photos shortly after it wraps up.
Happening the same day (Sept. 13, 2014) as Trinidad Rockfish Wars is the Humboldt Aquatic Center's Paddlefest 2014. I'm pulling double duty that day, starting off before dawn to set up, organize, and safety boat before heading down to Eureka at noon to give free beginning kayak classes at the festival. Pacific Outfitters Adventures & Academy has also donated Basic Skills Kayaking & SUP Classes, Private Rolling Instruction, and a Guided Trinidad Sea Kayak Tour to the auction to benefit HSU Center Activities Youth Aquatic Scholarship Fund. There are demos, races, tours, and all kinds of fun things happening and this event will be tons of fun.
Lumpy Waters Symposium presented by Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe is happening October 10-12th in Pacific City, Oregon. This will be my fifth year coaching at Lumpy, and I look forward to returning to my old paddling & fishing grounds and seeing all of my sea kayaking friends from near and far. I'm leading "Handline Fishing for Sea Kayakers" this year. Unlike the last few years where we focused on crabbing in protected waters, this year we will be launching off the beach at Cape Kiwanda, paddling out to Haystack Rock, and jigging for lingcod, rockfish, and cabezon with handlines. There will not be a flat water crabbing options this year, so those interested should have experience paddling in conditions including swell, wind, and surf launches/landings, and practiced self rescue. As of August 30th there were only 13 spaces left. If you would like to join us, don't hesitate. This is the most popular sea kayak symposium on the West Coast and sells out every year.

Of course I've managed to squeeze in a few minutes of fishing here and there. Mostly quick attempts at lingcod & rockfish during tours when clients stop to take pictures of wildlife! I did manage a personal fishing day last week and caught several rockfish & greenling (nothing photo worthy, but tasty!). The water has been so clear lately I could see the fish down to 20ft in the rocks and kelp. Also managed to see a big grey and white tail of a toothy critter turn and dive away from me fifteen feet below my kayak.

Last week also presented an opportunity for exploration and scouting for Fall Salmon Fishing trips on the Klamath River. Eric Stockwell and I hit the river at mid day, and made half-hearted attempts at catching king samon from our kayaks as we used eddies to make our way up river through Yurok territory. This is wild country where the roads end. Black bears, natives in buckskin fishing with nets, and king salmon rolling on the surface are commonplace. It takes time and commitment to catch salmon as they migrate upriver to their spawning grounds. Those that are willing to put in the effort are rewarded, but just paddling here is rewarding in itself.

It appears that the summer tourist season is waning, and I hope to take the opportunity to get some solid days of fishing Trinidad under my belt before the season ends. I will be sure and update you accordingly. Thanks for reading. I'll see you on the water!