San Diego's Eleventh Annual

Yellowtail Derby

April 27 - June 9, 2019

A Fishing Competition for the Best Catch of:

Crowd at San Diego's first Yellowtail Derby circa 1950
Miss Yellowtail Derby 1962 Sharon Wetzel Poses (Photo Courtesy of San Diego Historical Society)
The Fisherman catch Miss Yellowtail Photo circa 1950s (Photo Courtesy of The Fishery)
Cathy Harris, Derby Queen from 1963, with Chenelle Innis, Derby Queen from 2013

The Yellowtail Derby's Long & Colorful History

San Diego's original Yellowtail Derby ran for 28 years, from 1946 to 1973. It was sponsored and produced by the San Diego Jaycees.

It was a multi-month event with qualifying periods and finals. Prizes ranged form cash to cars, trailers, trips and fishing gear. It built up to where every year more than 10,000 anglers competed and many from LA, Orange Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and often won.

Last year, at the urging of Stephen Cushman, Chairman of San Diego's Board of Port Commissioners, John Campbell took up the challenge and resurrected the Yellowtail Derby.

Mr. Campbell's extensive experience in the fishing community made him an ideal candidate to resurrect the tradition of the Derby, including being the IGFA Representative for California 7 years, Sales Manager for South Coast Sportfishing Magazine, and originator of the fishing section of The Log Newspaper.

So last September, the first annual running of the new Yellowtail Derby got underway and was an unqualified success. The fishing window was 8 days.

This year, anglers will have up to 44 fishing days to fish - April 27th to June 9th, 2019. Anglers choosing from only one day to fish to all 44 days will have an equal chance to win a prize, as the biggest fish.

About the Yellowtail

The yellowtail is a coastal, schooling fish that sometimes enters estuaries. It has been reported to occur occasionally in very large schools in the Gulf of California.

It feeds predominantly in the morning and late afternoon on small fishes, invertebrates, and pelagic crabs. Small to medium size fish generally undertake seasonal migrations. Larger individuals are more solitary and less migratory.

The yellowtail is easily recognized by its bright Yellowtail and a characteristic brass colored stripe that runs along the median line of the flanks from the tip of the snout to the tail. It is closely related to the greater amberjack. It can be distinguished by the greater number of developed gill rakers, 21 - 28 on the first arch, while the amberjack has 11 - 16.

The yellowtail is a fast swimmer. The strike is vicious and is followed by a long, hard run and sometimes two or three shorter runs before the fish is boated. Fishing methods include trolling or casting with live baits or with lures.

The yellowtail's habit of driving bait fish up against the shore makes casting from the beach possible at times. The advice of experts is to allow time for the bait to be swallowed, then strike hard.

The Yellowtail occurs south of the equator (not in equatorial waters) off Argentina, southern Brazil, St. Helena, South Africa, Australia and North Island, New Zealand. Read more.

About the White Seabass

(Ayres, 1860); SCIAENIDAE FAMILY; also called Catalina salmon, seatrout, croaker Inhabits the eastern Pacific between Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico to Juneau Alaska. They are usually found near the mainland shore over sandy bottom or around near kelp beds, but they may also be found in shallow surf or deeper waters. There are no barbels on the chin. A characteristic raised ridge exists along the midline of the belly between the vent and the base of the pelvic (ventral) fins. There is a black spot at the base of the pectoral fin. Adults are steel blue to gray above with golden highlights, silvery below. Young fish up to about 18 in (45 cm) may have 3 6 broad, dark vertical bars on the flanks, but these disappear with age. Read more.

About the Halibut

(Ayres, 1859); BOTHIDAE FAMILY; also called chicken halibut, southern halibut, bastard halibut, portsider, alabato Monterey halibut. Occurs along the Pacific coast of North America from San Francisco, California, to Baja California, Mexico. There are scattered records of its occurrence as far north as the State of Washington. It is usually found on sandy bottoms in depths of 10 to 20 fathoms or less, though it may occasionally be found in depths up to 100 fathoms. It is not known to make any extensive migrations such as its larger northern relatives do. Read more.

About the Bluefin Tuna

(Linnaeus, 1758); SCOMBRIDAE FAMILY; also called Atlantic bluefin tuna, tunny fish, horse mackerel. Occurs in subtropical and temperate waters of the north Pacific Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean, and in the Mediterranean and Black seas. It is a pelagic, schooling, highly migratory species. The smallest fish form the largest schools and vice versa. Its extensive migrations of all fish, appear to be tied to water temperature, spawning habits, and the seasonal movements of fishes on which the bluefin feeds. The giants of the species make the longest migrations. Read more.

About the Yellowfin Tuna

(Bonnaterre, 1788); SCOMBRIDAE FAMILY; also called Allison tuna. Occurs worldwide in deep, warm temperate oceanic waters. It is both pelagic and seasonally migratory, but has been known to come fairly close to shore. Most large yellowfins have overextended second dorsal and anal fins that may reach more than halfway back to the tail base in some large specimens. In smaller specimens under about 60 lb (27 kg) and in some very large specimens as well, this may not be an accurate distinguishing factor since the fins do not appear to be as long in all specimens. Read more.

About the Albacore

(Bonnaterre, 1788); SCOMBRIDAE FAMILY; also called longfin tuna, long finned tunny Found worldwide in tropical and warm temperate seas, including the Mediterranean. Pelagic and migratory. Usually remains in deep clear blue tropical or warm waters, but makes seasonal migrations into colder zones (New England, South Brazil, and northern Gulf of Mexico). The most distinguishing feature of this member of the tuna and mackerel family is its very long pectoral fins that reach to a point beyond the anal fin. Read more.

Derby Winners

2009 Winner Sonja Steiner
2010 Winner Charles Wittenberg
2011 Winner Tom Keus
2012 Winner Bob Woodard Jr.
2013 Winner Marc Nunes
2014 Winner Neil Barbour

Derby Queens

2010 Queen Tiera Hanes
2011 Queen McKenzie Gordon
2012 Queen Delanie Gomes
2013 Queen Chenelle Innis
2014 Queen Jennifer Nakatani
2015 Queen Tiera Hanes
2016 Queen Ciara Church