The small crescent of beach at Leffingwell Landing in sleepy Cambria, California had never seen 100 anglers. That changed on September 21, when 110 dashed out to sea a little after dawn, hungry to win Cambria Slam Down II.
"We nearly quadrupled in size since last year," tournament host Ryan Howell of the Central Coast Kayak Fishing Forum (CCKF) said. Competing in the Slam Down wasn't a task for the timid.
All 110 launched easily through the shore break. Not so on the return trip. "Mix a hefty swell with a steep beach and high tide. You will find a few broken rods and lots of pride getting washed out to sea," Howell said. Slam!
No one was hurt except maybe in the pocket book, and then probably only temporarily. CCKF had a crew of volunteers to jump in and pluck 'yaks from the water as soon as they hit the beach. "Many anglers learned one thing that day. Never turn your back to a wave," Howell added.
Conditions offshore were rough. "Anglers had to brave stirred up water with a mixed swell, not to mention a decent wind chop and thick fog," Howell said. It made for a wet, rainy day. If it bothered the anglers, they didn't say. It sure didn't bother the fish.
The Fisheye Channel captured the action. Video below, including wipeouts.
Ricci Chavez finished at the top of the points heap, earning a new 2014 Hobie Outback—the first time the Slam Down awarded a grand prize fishing kayak. Robert Hunter was second and Kevin Chiles third. The top anglers won prizes ranging from a Shimano Terez rod paired with an Abu Revo reel, a Grizzly cooler, custom bait tank and Bending Branches Paddle. Highlight catches included a massive 18-pound lingcod, multiple cabezon over 8 pounds, as well as many 6-pound rockfish. -KF.