They call him “Heavy D” but he’ll answer to a new nickname now — “Halibut Champion.”
The 52-year-old winner of the revitalized Port San Luis Halibut Derby says he’s still learning how to fish for halibut.
Leading up to last weekend’s event, Robert Aguayo fished Thursday and Friday.
“The first day I caught halibut weighing 29 and 18 pounds as well as a seabass. Friday was discouraging. I blanked,” Aguayo said in a phone interview.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“I didn’t plan to enter the derby but Del Kyle talked me into it.”
Aguayo caught a ride with Mat Barkhuff’s boat Inch Worm. Saturday was a work day for Barkhuff. They were the only two additional entrants Sunday. Forty-eight competed Saturday and some, but not all, fished on Sunday’s day two.
The champ picked up the story.
“We launched at 5 a.m. and were trolling by 6 o’clock,” Aguayo said. “Our bounce balling paid dividends around 9 o’clock. It weighed 28 pounds on my boat scale. I’m thankful that it weighed 31 (pounds), 2 (ounces) back at the landing.
“We jammed the fish into an ice chest and I sat on it for two hours coming in. It’s the biggest halibut I’ve caught. This was my first derby.
Barkhuff, 44, was elusive in revealing where they were fishing. “It was where I’ve fished for halibut for 20 to 25 years,” he said.
The 27-pound, 4-ounce flattie Barkhuff caught took third place Sunday. Moreover, he reeled in a dog shark and a 22-pound white seabass.
Joe Vaughan, 61, who placed first Sunday with a 29-pound, 8-ounce fish, was one of the few entrants who had placed in previous Derbies prior to the 2010-2014 interruption.
He was the overall winner in 2002, 2003 and 2006.
Once again Vaughan fished with Don and Danny Gheno and Bob Perry as he has done in previous derbies.
Danny Gheno had the fourth-largest halibut Sunday — 26 pounds, 6 ounces, while Perry placed third Saturday with a 16-pound, 2-ounce flattie.
Vaughan noted that in addition to two halibut on Saturday they boated four seabass and on Sunday it was four halibut and two seabass.
“I plan to fish for seabass Wednesday (July 29) and I’ll probably catch halibut,” he said. Robert Mott, 44, placed first Saturday with a 30-pound halibut that measured 41 inches long. That was a half-inch less than the overall winner.
A number of the participants rejoiced in the renewal of the Derby and verbally expressed their desire for a continuance.
17th Annual Port San Luis Halibut Derby
Saturday Leaders — Robert Mott, Arroyo Grande, 30-0 pounds; 2. Angelo Sandy, Grover Beach, 28-0 pounds; 3. Bob Perry, Santa Maria, 16-2 pounds; 4. Todd Vido, Grover Beach, 14-2 pounds; 5. Patrick Starr, Arroyo Grande, 10-4 pounds.
Sunday Leaders — Overall Winner, David Aguayo, Oceano, 31-2 pounds.
1. Joe Vaughan, Nipomo, 29-8 pounds; 2. Patrick Starr, Arroyo Grande, 29-4 pounds; 3. Mat Barkhuff, Arroyo Grande, 27-4 pounds; 4. Danny Gheno, Taft, 26-6 pounds; 5. James Roesner, Santa Maria, 26-2 pounds.
Port San Luis Boatyard
A white seabass bite broke out during the Halibut Derby. Thirty-two of the 45 seabass caught during the week were bagged on the weekend — 17 Saturday and 15 Sunday. The Whopper of the Week was caught July 23 — a 38-pounder by Danny Teofilo of Grover Beach.
One hundred boats were launched last week with 63 of them Saturday and Sunday. The catch included 75 lingcod and 30 halibut. Full rockcod limits were caught Monday through Thursday, three-quarter rockcod limits Friday and Saturday, plus half limits Sunday.
Morro Bay Landing
Thirteen trips were dispatched last week with the San Pedro Special and Endeavor transporting 438 passengers who caught a total of 4,452 fish.
Andrew Bartlik of Morro Bay had the biggest fish, a 22-pound, 2-ounce lingcod.
Other jackpot winners were: Michael Garcia, Bakersfield, 17-0 ling, Keilan Coontz, Bakersfield, 15-0 ling, Phil Bradford and Joseph Bovias, both Bakersfield, and Keith Blevins, Porterville, all 14-0 lings, Robert Sutton, Atascadero, 12-9 ling, Shazda Good, Albuquerque, N.M., and Jesse Kim, Santa Maria, both 12-0 lings, Kevin Bell, Fresno, 11-12 ling, Buck Murray, Hanford, and Jose Gomez, Bakersfield, both 9-0 lings, and Cameron Malone, Atascadero, 7-0 ling.
The catch included 336 lingcod, 780 red rockcod, 2,887 assorted rockfish, 110 coppers, 23 bocaccio, 15 bolina, one sheephead and one ocean white fish.
For trip schedules and reservations, go to www.morrobaylanding.com or call 771-5500.
Marina manager Bruce Harwood reported on a July 20 fundraiser trip for the Central Coast Women for Fisheries and the Morro Bay Rotary Club Fish Fry Event.
Harwood said the trip aboard the Princess reminded him of fishing in the Sea of Cortez.
“The seas were totally flat, 85 degrees and 90 percent humidity,” Harwood said. “On the trip, 24 anglers had full rockcod limits which translated into 118 pounds of fillets donated to the fish fry event.”
Qualifier No. 16 for the December John Rowley Lingcod Tournament was Chad Foster of Ridgecrest. His 14-pound ling caught July 18 was the heaviest of the week.
Other jackpot winners were: Nick Haskell, Bakersfield, 18-8 ling, Ryan Duffy, Tulare, 17-3 ling, Alison Cizek, Springville, and Chris Bradshaw, Lompoc, both 15-5 lings.
Fourteen fishing trips last week saw 408 anglers catch 4,319 fish including 265 lingcod for a season total of 3,745 lings.
For trip schedules and reservations, go to www.virgslanding.com or call 772-1222.
Bakersfield anglers accounted for winning five jackpots on trips last week. Heading the group with the catch of a 22-pound, 2-ounce lingcod was Joe Schmidt on July 23.
Other winners from Bakersfield were: Camryn Coston 13-0 pounds. Bryan DeMarah, Kyle Young and Bobby Hendrick, all 10 pounds. Other winners were: Matt Hoffman, Oceano, 14 pounds, Daniel McFarlin, Grover Beach, 12 pounds, Justin O'Brien, Grover Beach, and Darrel Gardner, Santa Maria, both 10 pounds, and Mark Powers, no residence given, 11 pounds.
The catch by 287 anglers included, 233 lingcod, 579 red rockcod, 79 coppers, 14 cabezon, nine bocaccio and 1,889 assorted rockfish.
For trip schedules and reservations go to www.patriotsportfishing.com or call 595-7200.