While a few of us sailed down to Ensenada last weekend, most stayed in town and participated in the Balboa Angling Club's 51st Annual Lily Call Bay Tournament on April 26 and 27. This is an in-the-harbor tournament using 4-pound line and fishing for croaker, corbina, halibut and bass.
According to angler Greg Taite, last weekend delivered "some of the worst weather I have ever seen in the harbor." Taite, who has been the Balboa Angling Club's outstanding angler for the past two years, won this year's Grand Slam for placing in each category.
"Right when it was 'lines in,' the wind picked up to 35-plus knots and the rain came down in sheets," he said. "My good friend Tim Humphrey and I decided to fish from shore, and it was lucky we did." According to Taite, most of the anglers in boats had to pay attention to their vessels and confront the weather.
Taite informed me that he and Humphrey had started three weeks earlier by fishing almost every day before and after work to find where the fish were. A week before the tournament, they found their spot, which turned out to be just under the Pacific Coast Highway bridge on the Castaways side.
"We were catching one fish after another," Taite explained. "Every one or two minutes, we were catching fish."
The guys caught their corbina and croaker between midnight and 3:45 a.m., then went home to get their boat and launch it. Most of the daylight hours, Taite and Humphrey were still fighting the high winds, but fortunately the rains had diminished.
Late into Saturday night — or it could have been early Sunday — they pulled into the anchorage and took a three-hour power nap. Something tells me these guys still had a line in the water as they were sleeping. Taite told me he caught his halibut with only three hours remaining in the tournament.
It was interesting to learn about the strategy and tactics Taite used to win this tournament. He explained it as a five-step process, and he did spend quite a bit of time talking about the bait they were using.
"Fished the worm and pumped out our own ghost shrimp," he told me. If you cannot tell already, I am no angler. "The worm" is an innkeeper worm that, from the sound of it, is difficult to find. "It took three years to find the worms," Taite said.
One thing I do know is not to ask where they are.
The other bait these guys used is ghost shrimp. My guess is that both of these critters live in the mud somewhere in the harbor. Not only does finding the bait sound difficult, but keeping it alive throughout the tournament seems tough too.
Taite, 37, has been fishing our harbor since he was 12. When I asked him how he felt about the condition of our harbor after the dredging last year, he replied, "In some small channels, I can see the bottom. That's a first for me. The water seems like it's crystal clear. I was tempted to snorkel our area to get another view, and I have never considered swimming in our harbor before."
Balboa Angling Club manager Amy Elliott reported that the tournament had 72 participants, $20,000 worth of raffle prizes and some of the most fun ever. More than 40 people showed up for the party before the event started, and 60 people were present at the barbecue and awards.
The Balboa Angling Club remains one of the best values on the harbor, with yearly memberships at $225 for the family, $175 for a single and $25 for kids under 21. Upcoming events at the club are the fly-fishing seminar and YSH Tournament in June.
Remember, it's all about the worm!
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.