As the very 1st and indeed the ONLY kayak fishing Derby in northern California for years, the Kayak Connection Derby began in 2001. That year, the Derby attracted yakfisherfolk from all over NorCal. All eight of us. The next year attendance jumped to 16. Third year, 2003 there were more than 20 participating, and that was the year I was lucky enough to win with a 16-pound halibut. I'll never forget the joy.
Unbelievably, the entry count was 48 on morning of this year's Derby! And with only three weeks prep and promo. "Showing the Love" to Dave and Jessica Grigsby, owners of Kayak Connection. the Grigsbys revived the Derby after a multi-year hiatus. Jessica and Dave are fully committed to support for Yak Anglers, maintaining a full line of fishing kayaks and accessories in their shop at the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor.
At O-Dark-Thirty the parking lot at West Harbor was filling up with all the usual suspects. Yaks were scattered here and there, headlamps flashed as boats were launched in the dark. Coffee, lies and a few donuts were consumed. Once on the water, most everyone found secret reef # 4. Hope so, since I published the coordinates night before, and announced the spot on the VHF radio a number of times that morning for those who may have missed the GPS numbers.
Good call, too. That's where the winning lingcod was picked up by Mike Peters (MikeE), fishing a Big Hammer in Red from his venerable Prowler 15. His BIL Bones had another ling, and a few others were caught in that area. Mostly smaller RF though, were the order of the day. For his winning fish, Peters brought home the brand-new Old Town Predator 13 fishing kayak in Camo. Perfect for the big waters of the Bay, or the Sacramento and American Rivers near his home of Elk Grove.
A few guys paddled over to the Lighthouse Point area. Nathan Tsuji was one of these, and he pulled up a small but significant halibut that garnered him a number two spot for the day. Besides bragging rights, Tsuji took home a gorgeous carbon Werner paddle from the stock at Kayak Connection.
Thanks so much to Dave and Jessica Grigsby for revitalizing the Santa Cruz Derby. We will definitely do it again, next time with more lead notice, and most likely earlier in the summer. And as always, our perennial sponsor OCEAN KAYAKS, who have supported this derby from the very beginning via Mike Mowrey and Tsunami Sales and Marketing.
If Dave and Jessica are the "new faces," then I have to mention some old hands that came out of the woodwork. Making cameos at the Derby were Big Red, veteran of all the early derbies in SC and still paddling his Malibu 2 (but not wearing a white shirt and tie); BIG J!!!! Janice showed up with Little E for the festivities. So good to see you Janice. And Mark Pastick, the former owner of Kayak Connection who is looking younger every day. Retirement obviously agrees with him.
Last hour or so was spent convincing Bert Bones that three kayaks were "no problem" on top of his new VW van....Check out Dave G's expression......LOL.
My comment was "How many kayak anglers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"
Thanks again everyone for showing up and supporting. Congrats MikeE, Nathan, and Jim for your wins!!!!