By Paul Lebowitz
Once again La Jolla demonstrated why it is southern California's premier kayak fishery, and the single busiest kayak fishing launch in the world. This place delivers.
On Saturday, a field of just over 50 competitors fished up every one of 'The Jewel's" star species at the La Jolla Rumble Fish tournament presented by Big Waters Edge and KayakFishingSupplies.com. The event benefitted the Southern California chapter of Heroes on the Water, an organization that offers no-cost therapeutic kayak fishing trips to veterans.
"Veterans tell me that for the three hours they are at one of our events, they don't have to think about their demons. Thanks for coming out to support our work," chapter coordinator Matt Grisso told the field at the awards ceremony and fish taco feast.
A high surf advisory might have discouraged the last-minute crowd. Anyone who stayed home made a mistake. As usual, the La Jolla surf was mellow, although much of the field stayed close to the launch on the squid grounds.
That's where Greg Barnicoat casually waved over the tournament committee boat. The former West Coast Whoppers winner casually handed over a tanker white seabass. Later the fish would scale out at an even 50 pounds, easily outpacing the crowd.
James Kelley brought an impressive 36.4-pound halibut to the scale, capturing second place. Robert Huynh's 21.8-pound yellowtail beat a parade of other forkies to secure third.
Grisso said the funds raised at Rumble Fish will go a long way toward helping the Southern California vastly expand its programs. The day yielded more than 40 percent of their annual budget requirements.