Over 80 kayakers gathered along the Central Coast of California to fish in the Estero Kayak Challenge which was held on June 2, 2018 at Leffingwell Landing in Cambria. Conditions out on the water shaped up nicely and the bite on rockfish and lingcod was pretty good early in the morning. I headed south a ways and found some good open water marks that were putting fish over the side of the kayak but was not going to be enough for top places, So decided I was going to head even further south. Peddled in a southerly direction for about 30 minutes staying between 60 and 80 feet of water looking for structure on my Lowrance fishfinder, but was not able to find any new structure to drop. Decided to head shallow and fish the kelp in search of a cabezon as I had it all to myself except a small tin skiff fishing the outer edge.
As soon as I got settled into the kelp, I tied on a shrimp fly with a Shimano Lucanus Jig. Dropped down and had a solid take down that pulled right into the kelp stringers. Was able to horse out a 6lb Vermillion. The very next drop I set my rod down to submit the photo of this fish on the Iangler app that we were using during this tournament. My Rod doubles over and the drag starts to scream as line is being pulled from my spool. As I pick up my rod, I can feel my 60lb FINS braid just sawing through the kelp. Get that distinct Pop between each stand of kelp. What had I hooked. Initial thoughts were maybe a smaller seabass, had maybe a leopard shark took the shrimp I had on the shrimp fly. Well moments later I see a nice sheepshead pop up from the kelp. Teeth look like they came out of some Sci Fi movie or something. Grabbed it with my lucids grips and tossed it into the kayak as quickly as possible. Was stoked to get this nice fish on the boat. But was fishing the tournament was based off the Slam and you had to have 3 specific species which were Lingcod, Rockfish and Cabezon which for me was not coming easy today. Did towards the end of the day find some structure that had them on it but kept getting shorts. We were all met at the beach by DFW to check our fishing license and make sure we have our fishing nets. All in all was a great day of fishing with some great anglers on the water.
Congratulations to Ricardo Holden for taking home 1st place with the largest Slam. See you guys all out there again next year.