The team on Chaser, a 54-foot Viking with Capt. Jimmy Kingsmill at the helm, was in the zone on Day Two of the Zane Grey Invitational based in Dana Point, California. The Chaser released one striped marlin on Day One of the tournament and lost another fish late in the day, so they were already hot as the second day of fishing began, but they really found their groove on Day Two.

The Zane Grey Invitational is the first event in the California Billfish Seriespresented by COSTA and always attracts the top offshore boats on the West Coast. This year’s field of participants was no different and the boys on theChaser had some tough competition as the tournament fleet battled it out for more than $60,000 in cash up for grabs.

Chaser and Chiqelin were both tied with one striped marlin release each as Day Two’s lines in call came at 6:30 a.m. The Zane Grey Invitational is a modified-release tournament, and all it would take to move into the lead was a qualifying striped marlin in the boat or one more release.

At 8:30 a.m. Kingsmill called in a hookup for the Chaser. Angler Pat Holmes hooked the striped marlin on a live bait, fishing in the C5 tournament grid. It took Holmes less than 15 minutes to get the official release to move Chaserinto firstplace with two releases in the books. Chaser had leapfrogged over Chiqelin, who released the first striped marlin of the tournament on Day One with Capt. Mike “Beak” Hurt at the wheel and angler Rich Raffieny manning the fishing rod.

Just a few minutes after the Chaser released its first striped marlin of Day Two, the crew on the Gambler, a 73-foot Nordlund, found the marlin and managed to hook a double-header on bait. Unfortunately, one of the fish came unbuttoned, but angler Billy Miyagawa, Sr. who is no stranger to fishing the California Billfish Series, managed to get his striped marlin to the boat and record a release for his team at 9:04 a.m.

It appeared the morning bite was coming on strong and the victory was still within reach of the entire fleet.There were basically two bodies of fish that the Zane Grey Invitational participants found. One was off the east end of Catalina Island and the other was off the east end of San Clemente Island. All of the boats in the tournament saw fish over the course of the event, but getting them to bite was the challenge. Coming off of the full moon, the striped marlin were chock full of squid, but they’re starting to wake up now and feeding more aggressively. All of the bites in the tournament were on baits.

Chaser fished in the same general area they’d found their earlier fish and it paid off for them. Just after 1 p.m. on Day Two, Keegan Hicks made a cast to a striped marlin and the fish took his bait for the team’s second hook up of the day. Keegan got the official striped marlin release and moved the Chaser farther into the lead, which they would hold until the lines out call at 4 p.m.

With three striped marlin releases, the Chaser took home first place honors and nearly $32,000 in cash. The teams on Chiqelin and Gambler both released one striped marlin each, but Chiqelin won second place honors base on time and took home a check worth $26,392. Gambler finished in third place and won $1,920. The Zane Grey Invitational offers participants several optional jackpots. The more jackpots you enter, the more money you take home if you win.

“Once again, we had a great tournament and it we were relieved that all of the teams saw some striped marlin,” said tournament director Ali Hussainy. “We’re excited about the upcoming events in the series including the Catalina Classic and the Avalon Billfish Classic. It looks like the fishing will be good and we’ve got a great lineup of parties and events for our teams.”

The next tournaments on the agenda, the Avalon Billfish Classic and the Catalina Classic, are fished simultaneously on historic Catalina Island. These events will take place September 23-25th.

The California Billfish Series presented by COSTA is the largest offshore tournament series on the West Coast of the United States. The series is made up of three tournaments, including the Zane Grey Invitational, Avalon BillfishClassic and the Catalina Classic. These three tournaments are the premiere events in Southern California. The California Billfish Series is owned and operated by www.BDoutdoors.com and sponsored by some of the top companies in the sportfishing industry including COSTA, Hot Can,Salt Life, Grundens, Melton Int’l Tackle, Scent Blazer, Rancho Leonero Resort, Berkley, PENN, Fisherman’s Landing Tackle Shop, Dana Landing, Bub’s Dive Bar, Pakula Tackle, Fish Dope, Montauk Tackle Co., Anglers Center, Pacific CoastSportfishing Magazine, Phenix Rods, Accurate Fishing Products, Mustad, Fraser Optics, Waterman’s Applied Science, Bubba Blade, Salty Dawg Custom Rods, Batson Enterprises, Rotations Pet Food, and Happy Ending Lures.

For more information on the California Billfish Series, visit www.CatalinaClassic.com or contact Tournament Director at Ali Hussainy at ali@bdoutdoors.com or 858-560-5525.

Image courtesy Charlie Levine

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