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By Zach Cavanagh

Angler Cher Owens from Laguna Niguel got the ball rolling on the first Halibut Derby drift trip on Friday aboard the Clemente with this 25-pound catch and Clemente deckhand Dolf Nelson. Photo: Courtesy

Good water conditions brought in skipjack tuna action, and the Halibut Derby got off to a strong start at Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching.

In his weekly report, Captain Brian Woolley said that the clean water, downhill current and 67-68 temperatures opened up some spots for skipjack tuna in the middle of the week. It hasn’t been the strongest year for tuna fishing, so the jump up in skipjack was welcomed.

The fleet also pulled in a good number of bonito and rockfish.

In the Halibut Derby, the first drift trip of the season brought a strong early leader with a 25-pound catch by Cher Owens of Laguna Niguel. There are already 15 entries on the leaderboard with five catches over 10 lbs.

You can keep track of the Halibut Derby and get more info on the November to March event at

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

Nov. 8 – 1 boat, 30 anglers: 14 calico bass, 7 sand bass, 12 sheephead, 2 bonito

Nov. 7 – 2 boats, 40 anglers: 26 calico bass, 8 sand bass, 9 sheephead, 4 halibut, 58 bass released, 6 halibut released

Nov. 6 – 2 boats, 61 anglers: 177 bonito, 2 calico bass, 15 whitefish, 50 rockfish, 12 bocacciio, 65 bass released

Nov. 5 – 3 boats, 59 anglers: 211 bonito, 5 calico bass, 4 sand bass, 13 sheephead, 28 whitefish, 67 rockfish, 26 vermilion rockfish, 24 bocaccio, 40 bass released

Nov. 4 – 5 boats, 192 anglers: 11 yellowtail, 99 bonito, 25 calico bass, 22 sand bass, 14 sheephead, 104 whitefish, 257 rockfish, 5 halibut, 1 blue perch, 1 lingcod, 246 bass released

Nov. 3 – 4 boats, 139 anglers: 127 bonito, 11 calico bass, 14 sand bass, 7 sheephead, 44 whitefish, 256 rockfish, 28 bocaccio, 122 bass released

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