Oregon Tuna Classic 2016 updates

The perfect storm is coming to Ilwaco. We’ll hopefully not literally but when 600 crazed wild eyed participants show up on July 29th  & 30th  for the Deep Canyon Challenge it may seem like it. 

This year’s Garmin Oregon Tuna Classic Tournament Series events are shaping up to be bigger and better than last year. We are proud to have North River Boats as our Port Sponsor for the Deep Canyon Challenge. Be sure to check out the boats next to the tent during the tournament. www.northriverboats.com

We have a few other new sponsors this year as well with Camas Meadows Golf Club donating towels to the captain’s bucket www.camasmeadows.com . You told us what you liked and ask for more towels so longtime participant Matt Olson made it happen. Be sure to thank him during the tournament. Matt will be on a different boat this year after getting a taste of what it feels like to stand on the podium last year. He now has a new big center console sporting 4 engines. You’ll know which one when it blows by you on the way to the promised land once the flare shoots signaling the start of this year’s first event in Ilwaco.

Also new to the tournaments Smak Plastics is donating some very nice coolers. Be sure to check them out. www.smakplastics.com

PIG Out BBQ is back again this year with a new expanded menu featuring a few additional tastier items along with dessert this year.

The captains buckets will have cedar plugs, X-raps, swim baits, jig heads, clones, towels, water bottles, chips, jerky just to name a few of the many items inside.

This year’s live auction features about 30 items including with Garmin Chart plotters, Fishing trips to Mexico, hunting trips to exotic lodges in Argentina, nice shotguns, fishing rod/combos, exotic fly rods, ladies day spa packages, ladies jewelry and the list goes on and on. You won’t want to miss this.

Anyone can participate in the Live Auction as well as the Bucket Raffles where there are even more nice items to win.

What if the ocean is too rough and it doesn’t look like it’s your cup a tea – no worries. Stay in close and catch a salmon for the Salmon side pot. Everyone is automatically entered and you can keep your salmon.

What if you don’t have a boat or a team – no worries come on down and buy a dinner ticket then join in on all the fun. The energy inside the tent is very contagious. 

What if your new to tuna fishing – even more reason to come participate and meet others. One of the best ways to become a better fisherman is to develop a network for information and resources. There are all skill levels in these tournaments. It’s not about how many you catch it’s about the five heaviest tuna. A previous tournament winner only caught five fish one year but they were hogs and heavy enough to take the top prize.

These tournaments are qualifying events for the Offshore World Championships (OWC) in Costa Rica and as such the top placing team will get an official invite from the OWC and have an opportunity to compete against the best of the best in the world next April 2017.

The event starts off with Big Fish Friday for those folks who’d like a little extra competition and intend to go scout out their favorite fishing hole on Friday. It’s an optional pot that generally pays out about $1,200 to whichever team has the biggest tuna on Friday.

Once they get their fish weighed in you might catch up to them at the registration/team check in inside the big tent in the Port of Ilwaco parking lot. You can’t miss it. This a good place to grab a drink or a snack and catch up with friends or even make a few new ones. The mandatory captains meeting starts at 7:00pm, includes a Coast Guard talk, and generally ends at 7:30pm.

If you’re a newbie or someone that wants to learn a little more hang around for a seminar on live bait fishing from the crew of Shake N Bake Sportfishing. They’ll have flyers to hand out covering finding fish, knots they use, techniques and have rods/reels on hand to show what how they’re rigged.

Saturday morning the boats/teams will slowly make their way out to the starting line just outside the mouth of the Columbia River and immediately south of the 2 SJ Buoy near the end of the sunken south jetty where you’ll find the starting line. A roll call on the radio will start about 5:30am and once everyone is accounted for we’ll give a 10 second count down ending with the Coast Guard shooting up a flare signaling the start of competition. That’s about when the testosterone kicks in and a few boats leap out of the water a few times giving the crew a few good licks before pulling the throttles back to a more normal position and work their way offshore.

Then about 3:00pm you’ll start seeing teams arriving back into port offloading their 5 heaviest fish for the weigh in. Yes, you can donate more than five fish if you feel so inclined.

Once their boats are back in their slips or on the trailer you’ll find them in the big tent, hungry and thirsty, making their way through the food line. The dinner line opens at 5:00pm and runs till 7:30pm. The official program for the evening starts at 7:00pm and typically ends around 10:30pm. 

If you haven’t been to one of these events in the last couple years your missing out. The events have evolved over the years into more of a larger event that just happens to have a fishing tournament with it. You have the rah rah rah and banter of fishermen teasing each other along with tons of premium grade fish going to the local food banks. You might hit the podium and win big walking away with $10 or $20,000 but in the end it’s all about the food banks. The camaraderie and warm fuzzies you get from helping those less fortunate is very powerful and will give you cause to know you’ve done something very nice for someone who is down on their luck and might need a hand. Most food bank recipients are not your average homeless person you see standing on the corner with a sign. They are someone who just needs a little temporary help to get bank on their feet. I know it too well. When I was growing up my parents struggled at times to feed six kids and I always wondered where they got the boxes that had USDA stamped on the side when they came home with the staples we needed to get by on for another week. Everyone has their reasons for why they participate in these events – That is what drives me to make sure they are a success. Come out and join us whether as a crew/ team or just inside the tent for the evening BBQ, live auction and awards. www.oregontunaclassic.org

We’ll see you out there – Tight lines

Del Stephens

OTC Chairman

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