By Paul Lebowitz
“Nothin’ fancy, just the angler and his/her gear, testing their skills,” challenged Ruben Ledesma. He’s staged the Simply Fishing tournament for two years out of Timber Cove, a remote launch a couple hours north of San Francisco. The 2014 edition fished last weekend, on Saturday September 27.
“I am gonna level the playing field by limiting each angler to one rod and reel and three lures (provided), everybody fishes the same three lures, no bait, no scents. No mechanized propulsion systems, no sails, no fish finders, no GPS, just a kayak, a paddle, landing gear and safety equipment,” said Ledesma, laying down a simplified code of laws.
73 anglers picked up the gauntlet – and a scant trio of rockfish lures. The hardware consisted of a 7-inch Big Hammer Reckless Toast Swimbait, a B2 Squid, and an 6-ounce Deadly Duo knife jig. Fish in this rugged region hold tight to structure, jagged rock or grabby kelp. If you aren’t hanging up once in a while, you’re not fishing in the right area.
“The first anglers launched in grey light at about 6:00. By 7:30 it was clear that the horrific forecast for tournament day had scared off a significant number of participants. When I hiked down to the beach the wind was almost dead calm and shore just barely breaking. In the end we had around 50 anglers competing. Not bad considering,” Ledesma said.
The event was scheduled to end at high noon, but the first anglers were back at 9:00 having exhausted their lures. “Around 10:30 the wind and seas turned on again making it almost unfishable,” Ledesma said.
The scale judged Craig Davis the best at keeping it simple. Fitting; Davis started kayak fishing in 1974, long before ‘yaks came in plastic or sported fancy gizmos. His 9-pound, 9-ounce lingcod earned the Johnson Outdoors pro staffer an all expenses paid 4-day fishing trip with Paddle Panama. Davis had good karma in his favor. He sacrifices considerable free time to run the long-lived Albion Open Kayak Fishing Tournament every year, an amazing kayak fishing extravaganza.
“So excited! I was paddling my Trident 15. The ocean was big. 8- to 10-foot swells with winds up towards 15 plus knots by tourneys end,” Davis said.
NorCalKayak Anglers.com regulars Adam Koons (9 pounds, 5 ounces) and Allen Leepin (8 pounds, 9 ounces) rounded out the podium. The raffle benefited Heroes on the Water.