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Tuna catches are still coming in on the longer trips, with catches ranging from 20-40 pounds. Photo: Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching

By Zach Cavanagh

The Halibut Derby has a solid leader, and with cooling waters, the bottom fishing is the top choice this week at Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching.

In his weekly report, Captain Brian Woolley said that the best fishing for the fleet this week was on the three-quarter-day trips. Those trips went out to the deeper zones and racked up bottom fish. The live sardine bait was the key for pulling in rockfish. Woolley said that fishing with colt sniper jigs also produced good rockfish catches.

The half-day trips were still able to catch a good number of bass despite the cooling waters. Woolley said the water has dipped to 62 degrees, and the surface action was “tightening up” on the bass. Anglers were able to adapt to the conditions to pull in bass and sculpin. Clam and shrimp bait still brought in good sheephead catches.

The 1 ½-day trips still rounded up solid catches of tuna, ranging from 20-40 pounds.

In the Halibut Derby, there are six fish on the board after the first three weekends, and Omar Ozgur currently holds the top spot with a 20-pound, 5-ounce catch. Javier Calvo is No. 2 with a 16-pound, 10-ounce halibut, and Fred Erdmann is in third with a 12-pound, 6-ounce fish.

A 20-pounder is a more than solid catch, but it shouldn’t be expected to hold the top spot all the way through March. The previous derby winner clocked in over 26 pounds, with two 30-plus-pound fish winning before that.

The Halibut Derby runs through March 31with the top five spots earning money prizes. First place takes home a $1,500 prize. The top 25 anglers will participate in a free fish-off trip in April.

For more information on the Halibut Derby and all fishing trips, go to

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Here are the latest fish counts out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching:

Nov. 19 – 2 boats, 38 anglers: 81 yellowfin tuna, 3 bluefin tuna, 20 yellowtail, 10 bonito, 1 lingcod, 75 rockfish, 56 whitefish, 7 calico bass, 3 sheephead, 25 bass released.

Nov. 18 – 3 boats, 37 anglers: 226 vermilion rockfish, 50 rockfish, 35 bocaccio, 26 whitefish, 15 sculpin, 6 sheephead, 7 sand bass, 1 calico bass, 38 bass released.

Nov. 17 – 4 boats, 125 anglers: 43 yellowfin tuna, 5 bluefin tuna, 25 yellowtail, 30 skipjack, 1 halibut, 5 calico, 5 sand bass, 1 sculpin, 7 sheephead, 1 sargo, 140 bass released.

Nov. 16 – 4 boats, 88 anglers: 56 rockfish, 54 bocaccio, 49 vermilion rockfish, 49 whitefish, 43 sculpin, 29 sanddab, 10 sheephead, 9 calico bass, 3 sand bass, 147 bass released.

Nov. 15 – 4 boats, 81 anglers: 52 vermilion rockfish, 40 bocaccio, 38 whitefish, 31 rockfish, 25 sculpin, 4 calico bass, 4 sand bass, 2 halibut, 46 bass released.

Zach Cavanagh

Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports.

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