BY MIKE STEVENS
The San Diego Anglers Open Bay Bass Tournament started off as an informal club-tourney, and over the last two decades has evolved into a serious competition (while maintaining its fun roots) complete with heavy-hitting sponsors and legit media coverage.
Fishing was tough at this year's event, with the bite shutting down across the board at 8:30 a.m., and that combined with having to work around a new statewide size limit of 14" on all tournament-qualifying bass species (calico, sand, and spotted bay bass) made for what possibly could have been the toughest fishing in the event to date.
Despite all that, a great story rose from the ashes.
Tony Souza is a former commercial fisherman who was set to fish in his power boat with his wife, but when needed repairs couldn't be made in time, he asked if he could still fish the tournament, only by himself, and in his kayak. But, he wanted to still compete in the boat division so he could get a shot at better prizes, which included $2,000 in cash that was donated by a local tackle shop. Tournament officials saw no problem with this as long as he paid the $140 private boater fee rather than the reduced entry fee for the kayak division.
Souza proceeded to paddle out to a close-to-home area of the bay, and put together a 3-bass limit (lowered from 5 after the size limit change) that tipped the scales at 8.20 pounds, and was good enough to win the whole enchilada.
He walked away with the $2,000 check from Fisherman's Landing Tackle Shop, an additional $1,650 via an optional $25 jackpot entry, and a pair of Daiwa Lexa 300 reels with matching rods that, as a solo angler, he didn't have to share with anyone!
The only question remains is, what is he going to fish in next year?