by Greg Elliott, Oregon Tuna Classic chairman
Some of the finest anglers in the Northwest gathered in Garibaldi this past weekend to compete for the Garibaldi title and to see who would become the Overall Garmin OTC Series Champion and secure the invitation to the Offshore World Championship. Once again the City of Garibaldi with our Port Sponsor Duckworth and Weldcraft boats graciously welcomed the 47 teams of anglers to this quaint Oregon coastal port. Unlike last year, this year the weather was fantastic and the ocean was even better.
When the Friday results were released it was obvious that the Oregon Food Bank was the real winner! 40 teams turned in 200 tuna for a total of 4,366.35 lbs. Team “Priorities Strait” finished in first with 126.10 lbs. for total weight of the 5 fish turned in for the competition.
The second place team was “Team Englund Marine/Oppor-Tuna-Ty” with 119.4 lbs. and just edging out “Team Big Wave” who finished with 119.30 lbs. Taking the Big Fish Pot sponsored by Westlie Ford was “Priorities Strait” with a 33.5 pound albacore tuna.
As the Saturday results were released team by team the excitement continued to build as it would be a night of “firsts”. We ended up with only 36 teams turning in fish as a few boats either couldn’t find fish or encountered mechanical issues. This led to the first annual “Irish Mooring Café Sportsman Award” that was given to Captain Jason Ludwig and his crew “Team Bad Blood”. Jason and crew had stopped to tow in a fellow competitor with boat issue. As a result of their actions they were not able to cross the finish line by the deadline. As the results were released, every one realized that another first had taken place and karma was on this team’s side. They had not made the finish line last year as they too had stopped to help a fellow competitor and just missed the finishing time. This year was another story. The crowd of 450 people was ecstatic as port captain Bud Hosner announced “in 1st place with 129.90 lbs. was “Team Ice Lady” from Garibaldi”. This meant that Kelli Bestwick became the first woman captain to win in the 9 years of tournament history. 2nd place with a strong finish and 128.9 lbs. Was “Team Teton/FLIR” and 3rd place with 126.70 lbs. was Team Tuna Time. The Big Fish Pot also went to “Team Ice Lady” with a very nice 34.2 pound albacore. Total tuna turned in for the Saturday competition was 3,953.2 pounds.
The Garibaldi overall winner and overall 2013 Series Champion was all that was left to be determined. When it was all added up for Garibaldi, the weekend championship was decided by only 1.2 pounds with “Team Ice Lady” edging out “Priorities Strait”. It was a special moment when the trophies and Shimano/PowerPro prize package were handed over to Kelli and her crew.
The Overall Series Championship and the invitation to the Offshore World Championship went to a new team “Team Englund Marine/Oppor-Tuna-Ty” captained by Jad Donaldson which had a 1st and a 2nd in Ilwaco and finished 2nd and 5th in Garibaldi. They finished 15 points ahead of “Team Eat Me Lures”.
The real winner though was the Oregon Food Bank with a total of 10,020 pounds of tuna after including the 85 additional tuna donated by fisherman.
Overall, the two events (Ilwaco and Garibaldi) of the 2013 Oregon Tuna Classic donated 15,837 pounds of tuna to the Oregon Food Bank and local food banks of Pacific County.
We again would like to thank all that participated, sponsors, vendors, and the many volunteers. The participants, the contributions from our sponsors and all the volunteers whose efforts allow the Oregon Tuna Classic to remain a premier fishing event, benefit the local communities and support the local food banks.