On Sunday, September 20, 55 hopeful sport fishermen, some coming from as far away as Hawaii, gathered at Ristorante Villa Portofino to participate in the first Avalon Billfish Challenge, a new event started by Russ Armstrong and operated by he and wife Jenny.
Most of the 11 teams, including local boats “Bad Attitude” captained by Kelly Whittaker and “Scrambler” captained by Bob Kennedy and John King, left directly after the meeting and headed west to Anacapa Island, 60 miles from Avalon. Fishing commenced at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, September 21, and during the course of the two-day challenge 44 marlin were caught and released and two large fish were boated. Mary Schickling and Denny Friedrich handled radio communications from atop Blackjack Summit and documented all of the action.
At the awards dinner back at the Ristorante Villa Portofino on Tuesday night guest of honor Rosie Cadman drew raffle tickets for some nice prizes. Checks were handed out to the three top teams: The third place team, “Chaser” captained by Jimmy Kingsmill, with seven releases, was awarded $3,850.00; Team “End of the Line,” captained by Peter Babros, with a boated marlin weighing in at 190.6 pounds and eight releases, came in second and received a check for $5,775.00; Team “Ruckus,” captained by CG Miller, took first place with 17 releases and captured across the board daily jackpots for an impressive win of $55,950.00.
Many boats have already pledged to participate in the event next year and Russ closed by saying, “Look for an even better Avalon Billfish Challenge in 2016!”