Halibut Derby

Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching

Zerve Seller: DanaWharf
Activity #1820
  • Join us during our most popular time frame on this 3/4 day trip. See event notes for passenger load info and specific boat details.

  • See event notes for vessel and load information! Vessel may fish offshore or at Catalina Island.

  • Treat yourself to a five-hour, one of a kind sportfishing trip on the sparkling waters of Southern California, leaving from Dana Point.

  • Leave Dana Point Harbor behind to search for a variety of seasonal catches on these exciting overnight and multi-day fishing trips.

The Halibut Derby will resume in November!

You may view a calendar of other activities from DanaWharf.
Or for more information, please contact DanaWharf.


Join us today for an exciting day of fishing for halibut in the Dana Wharf Halibut Derby! $5 from each ticket sold goes into the Dana Wharf Halibut Derby Prize Money Pot. At the end of the Derby, the angler who catches the largest Halibut (by weight) will receive 50% of the total Halibut Derby Jackpot accumulated between 11/1/15 - 4/30/16. The remaining 50% of the Derby Jackpot will go to the winner of the Dana Wharf Halibut Derby Fish Off on May 2016. The Fish Off will be a free trip for the anglers who catch the top 25 Halibut (by weight) during the Derby.

1. At the end of the derby, the angler who catches the largest halibut (by weight) will receive 50% of the Halibut Derby Jackpot!
2. The remaining 50% of the Halibut Derby Jackpot will go to the winner of the Dana Wharf Halibut Derby Fish Off. The Fish Off will be a free trip for the top 25 anglers who catch the top 25 halibut (by weight) during the Halibut Derby. 
3.   Each month of the Derby, a $100 gift card to Dana Wharf, an Okuma rod/reel valued at over $400, a Hogan's Tackle Gift Certificate/Grab Bag and a Jig Stop Gift Certificate will be awarded to the angler who catches the largest halibut (by weight) that month.
4.Every angler entered in the Derby that catches a Halibut 15lbs or larger will win a $65 gift box filled with prizes from BD OUTDOORS. (Gift box will be mailed to the angler.)
5. Each Drift Day every angler will be entered in a raffle to win a 3/4 day fishing trip with Dana Wharf. ($64 Value)
6.  Each Drift Day the JACKPOT winner will receive a free hat and shirt from Dana Wharf or one of our sponsors. 
Please see the FAQs for the full rules and eligibility requirements.

What Is Not Included?

  • Fishing Equipment: Rods and reels are available for rent with the purchase of your tickets or at the shop.
  • Fishing License Regulations: Anglers 16 years of age or older are required to have a fishing license in their possession before boarding the boat. Please pre-purchase your fishing licenses online at https://www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/
    Non-anglers are not required to have a license.
  • Food and Beverages: Our boats’ full service cash galleys offer beverages, snacks, and hot sandwiches for purchase.
  • Gratuities: Tips for the hard working crew members are optional but greatly appreciated! Typical tips range from $5-10 per adult ticket.

Meeting Location

Dana Point Harbor Dr. and Golden Lantern St. (Dana Point, CA) (Exact meeting location details will be provided immediately upon purchase of tickets.)
What is the latest fish count?
2/4/13 - We had a great first day of the Halibut Derby and brought in a 33 pounder which is still currently in the lead. The leaderboard has 20 anglers on it, so there is room for 6 more! The jackpot is already up to $2,725!
------------------------QUESTIONS ABOUT TICKETS/POLICIES------------------------
Do I have to purchase tickets in advance?
Advance purchase is strongly recommended, as trips often sell out quickly, and these special derby trips are limited to 25 passengers. To maximize your chances of getting the day and time you prefer, please buy your tickets well in advance. Tickets can only be purchased with a Visa, Mastercard or American Express.
Is there a fuel surcharge?
No. There is no fuel surcharge on the halibut derby trips.
What happens if it rains?
We still go out. The rain is of no consequence; we are concerned with wind and sea conditions and they are not necessarily bad during the rain. In fact, some of our best conditions can be on a rainy day, so dress appropriately. In the case of severe weather, we may cancel the activity up to an hour before the start time in which case you will be allowed to reschedule tickets (subject to availability) or receive credit for a future event.
Are children allowed?
We love children, and encourage children of all ages to fish with us. Please keep in mind this is a nine hour fishing trip, which will require a certain level of attention span and concentration. Furthermore, there is only one standard ticket price for these trips, so all passengers must purchase a full priced ticket regardless of age.
Is the trip suitable for pregnant women?
While we don't put a limitation on who may or may not attend, pregnant women should always consult with their doctors before participating in any active activities.
How experienced do I have to be?
You don't! We encourage everyone, from novices to experts, to come and join us! We have a very knowledgeable, family oriented captain and crew on every trip to assist anglers of all skill levels.
What is the difference between this trip, the 3/4 day fishing trip, the 1/2 day fishing trip, and the twilight fishing trip?
The halibut derby is a special trip and while the time frame is the same as a 3/4 day trip (9 hours), this trip will be specifically targeting halibut by either drifting or anchoring, whereas the 3/4 day trips target bass and rockfish. Also, unlike our other trips, no discounts apply on this trip. All other three trips are fantastic. The main difference between the half day trip and the three quarter day trip is time. On the three quarter day trip, we are much more likely to limit out on one kind of fish and start fishing for different species. The twilight trip is ideal for those wanting to stay out of the sun or folks who work during the day; sometimes the evening bite is even better than the morning (although you never can tell till you get out there).
I don't want to fish, can I still go on the trip?
People who do not want to fish are welcome to attend the trip, but you must also purchase a full priced ticket. If you are not planning to fish, you will not need a license or rod and reel. However, if you plan to help your child fish, or hold a rod and reel at any time, the Fish and Game Department defines you as a fisherman and requires you to have a license.
If this trip is sold out can I get on a waiting list?
Cancellations are rare, as tickets are non refundable and cannot be rescheduled. However, you are welcome to show up at the docks just prior to the departure time. To ensure the best chance of fishing with us on your preferred trip, we recommend booking your trip as soon as you know the day you would like to attend.
How early should I arrive to check in before the trip?
Please arrive 30 to 45 minutes prior to departure for check in, especially because the tickets are non refundable. Our trips generally leave right on time!!!
Do you guarantee that fish will be caught?
We can guarantee fishing but not catching. Our crew will do everything in its power to put you where the fish are. We can not control what does or does not bite the hook.
Do we need to keep the fish we catch?
In order for an angler's halibut to be eligible for the derby, the fish must be kept so we can weight it once we get back into the harbor after the trip is finished. While you are welcome to keep any legal sized fish, Dana Wharf promotes catch and release and responsible conservation of our natural resources.
How many fish can I keep?
The captain and crew are up to date with the most recent California Department of Fish and Game size and possession limits, and will inform you of these at the start of the trip. Regulations will vary depending on the season.
What's the limit for a child under 16 with no fishing license?
Even though children under 16 years of age are allowed to fish on our trips without a license, they are allowed the same legal limit as an adult fisherman.
What do I do with the fish I decide to keep?
We will assist you with placing your fish in your sack. After the trip, fish cleaning is available for a small fee. Fish cleaning is payable in cash only.
Can I sell the fish I catch?
NO! It is illegal to sell fish that are caught by way of "Recreational Sport Fishing." If you are caught violating this law, you (along with Dana Wharf Sportfishing) will be ordered to appear in court, fined, and items can be confiscated.
What happens when everyone catches their limits?
The halibut derby trips will be targeting halibut only (meaning we will not be targeting bass or rockfish like we do on normal 3/4 day trips). It is unlikely that every angler aboard the boat would catch their limit of halibut.
How much of the trip will be spent fishing versus riding?
There is very little travel time involved in halibut fishing. 7-8 hours of the trip will be spent fishing or drifting for halibut.
How far does the boat go out?
Typically the Halibut Derby fishing trips stay within 10 miles of the harbor and fish up to 1 mile out.
What do I see when I'm not fishing?
When we're not fishing, you'll enjoy the stunning California coastline, birds, whales, dolphins, sea lions, breaking fish, other fishing and sail boats, depending on the day, conditions and season.
Will we see whales or dolphins while we are fishing?
We will occasionally see whales, dolphins, sea lions, and birds while fishing depending on the season. Please keep in mind this is a fishing trip, so any such sightings are a bonus. If there is something worth seeing near by which does not inconvenience the trip, the captain will generally take a few minutes to check it out.
-----------------------FISHING EQUIPMENT AND LICENSES-----------------------------
I have my own equipment. What type of gear do I need?
We recommend 15-20 pound test, pre-tied stinger trap rigs (these can be purchased at any tackle store or here at Dana Wharf), 4-8 ounce torpedo sinkers, and size 1/0 and 2/0 hooks. We suggest tying reverse dropper loops with the weights on top. You can fish for halibut with plastics, however, since we will be drifting, you'll a heavier weighted lead head.
Can you provide me with fishing gear, bait, and tackle?
You can rent rods with spinning reels for $18 when you purchase tickets, and this would include a tackle package. These rods are easier to cast and less likely to tangle. Standard rods and reels are also available for rental at the shop for $18, and includes a package of five hooks and two sinkers. Bait is included in the trip price. Additional tackle can be purchased in the tackle shop.
Am I required to have a fishing license?
Everyone 16 years and older is required by law to have a fishing license. If you do not already have one, you may purchase a one day license prior to departure. The price for a one day license in 2015 is $16. To inquire further about year licenses, please visit our tackle shop.
-----------------------------------WHAT SHOULD I BRING?-------------------------------------
Can I bring my own food and/or beverages?
You are welcome to pack a lunch, including soft drinks or water. However, no coolers or alcoholic beverages are allowed on board. We do have a full service galley on each of the boats where you may purchase hot food, snacks, water, soft drinks, and beer.
What kinds of food and beverages are available in the full-service galley?
Grilled sandwiches such as burgers, BLT, and grilled cheese. Also assorted chips and candy are available. Drinks include water, beer, soda. Additional items may be available depending on the boat and trip you are on. Bring any other food items you may need with you!
How much extra cash should I bring?
Besides the price of the ticket, you will need $1 per fish sack per person (if you are keeping fish), $5 per person for the voluntary jackpot, and about $10 per person if you plan to eat in the galley. Fish cleaning runs about $3 - $5 per fish (all cash only). Additional rod and reel rentals, tackle purchases, clothing, etc may all be purchases before the trip with either cash or credit.
What is the voluntary jackpot?
The voluntary jackpot is an optional pool for the biggest fish of the day. If you choose to participate and put $5 into the pool, the person with the largest fish at the end of the day wins the pot!
How does the derby work?
$5 from each ticket sold goes into the Dana Wharf Halibut Derby prize money pot. At the end of the derby, the angler who catches the largest halibut (by weight) will receive 50% of the total Halibut Derby prize money accumulated between 11/1/12 - 4/30/13. The remaining 50% of the prize money will go to the winner of the Dana Wharf Halibut Derby Fish Off on May 5th, 2013. The fish off will be a free trip for the anglers who catch the top 25 halibut (by weight) during the derby.
The crew was awesome! Can I leave a gratuity?
Tipping the crew members is optional but greatly appreciated, as they work very hard to make your trip as good as can be. Typical tips are $5-10 per adult passenger and can be given to the crew at the end of the day.
Can I bring an ice chest?
Due to space constraints on board, we do not allow ice chests on board. The only exception is in the case of a special medical related dietary need, such as diabetic, etc.
-------------------------QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR LOCATION-------------------------
Where exactly is Dana Wharf located within Orange County?
Hopefully these landmarks will help you to find us better: Dana Wharf is located 40 minutes south of Disneyland in Anaheim, 1 hour south of LAX airport in Los Angeles, and 60 minutes north of Sea World in San Diego. We are basically in the heart of Orange County!
----------------------------------QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BOAT----------------------------
Will there be room on the boat to stow my belongings?
There is limited room to stow your belongings on board. Please only bring what is absolutely necessary for the day's trip.
Is the boat wheelchair accessible?
That depends on the boat! If you would like to fish with us in a wheelchair, please click on the "Contact DanaWharf" link to the left of the page and we will make arrangements to accommodate you.
Is there shade on the boat?
Sometimes. Indoor seating and awnings are not available on all of our boats. Please take this into consideration and dress appropriately with hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
Which boat will we be going on?
There are four boats in our fleet, and all of them are great. Because of regularly scheduled maintenance, variable passenger loads, and private charters, there is no way to guarantee a particular boat for a particular trip.
Are there restrooms on board?
Yes, There is a clean marine head on board each of our boats.
Is the boat safe?
Absolutely. In addition to modern safety equipment (EPIRB, Life Floats, Life Jackets, etc.) our vessels are constantly maintained and inspected once a year by the United States Coast Guard, a Division of Homeland Security.
Are there life jackets on the boat? Do I have to wear one?
All boats are outfitted with safety equipment for both adults and children. While you are not required to wear one, you may do so if you choose. The captain will explain and demonstrate all safety equipment before the trip.
Will I get seasick?
While our vessels are very safe and stable, we will be in the ocean. If you are susceptible to motion sickness, you may consider taking preventative measures beforehand, although we cannot officially advise you to do so.
------------------PRIVATE CHARTERS AND GIFT CERTIFICATES-----------------------
Can I book a private fishing trip?
Absolutely! Custom dates and times are available for all of our vessels. Please click on the "Contact DanaWharf" link to the left of the page to inquire further.
Are gift certificates available for this trip?
No, unfortunately there are no gift certificates available specifically for this trip. There are, however, gift certificates available for the 2 hour whale watching trips (both Gray Whale Season and Blue Whale Season), ½ Day/Twilight Fishing Trips, and ¾ Day Fishing Trips, and they make a perfect gift for holidays, birthdays or any other occasion! To purchase a gift certificate for one of these activities, please click on "List of All Activities" to the left of the page and then on "Buy a Gift Certificate" at the bottom of the page. You also have the option of purchasing a gift card for a specific dollar amount, good for any activity, though you would need to visit the shop located at Dana Wharf in person to purchase one. Please click on the "Contact DanaWharf" link to the left of the page for more information on this option.
Rule # 1
TO BE ENTERED IN THE DERBY, THE HALIBUT MUST BE CAUGHT ON A DESIGNATED HALIBUT DERBY TRIP!!! Halibut caught on non-derby ¾ day trips or ½ days are NOT eligible for the derby.
Rule # 2
Each paid ticket is considered the angler’s entry into the derby for that day.
Rule # 3
All anglers competing in the Derby and Fish Off must comply with all California Department of Fish and Game laws.
Rule # 4
Halibut must be caught on rod and reel in order to be eligible for the derby.
Rule # 5
Anglers must hook and land halibut with minimal crew assistance in order to be eligible for the Fish Off or for the Derby Prize Money. The crew may only assist with gaffing or netting the halibut. No hook and hands will be counted. Captain of the boat has final say as to the eligibility of the halibut. All disputes MUST be handled the same day as the halibut is caught.
Rule # 6
We will be targeting halibut all day on these trips. This can include drifting or anchoring.
Rule # 7
The largest halibut of the derby (by weight) will receive 50% of the pot money at the end of the derby on 4/30/13. Should there be a tie, the money will be divided equally.
Rule # 8
The top 25 leader board will be visible on the Dana Wharf website. An angler may only have 1 space on the top 25 leader board. The angler’s heaviest halibut will be used in the case that the angler has multiple halibut.
Rule # 9
An additional daily jackpot on the boat will be available just as it is normally and entry is optional.
Rule # 10
All eligible halibut will be weighed and filleted in the harbor.
Rule # 11
Anyone caught cheating in the tournament will forfeit all cash prizes and their position in the top 25 leader board immediately.
Rule # 12
There is a passenger minimum of 10 for the trip to depart.
Rule # 13
If a scheduled Derby day is missed due to weather or other circumstances, it will not be made up.
Rule # 14
The Dana Wharf Halibut Derby Fish Off will take place on 5/5/13 from 7am – 4pm and will be a free trip for the top 25 anglers who catch the top 25 halibut (by weight) between 11/1/12 - 4/30/13.
Rule # 15
This trip will be free for these top 25 anglers and will be on 5/5/13 from 7am – 4pm. The trip will be rescheduled if there is poor weather.
Rule # 16
The largest halibut (by weight) caught on the Fish Off will receive the other half of the pot money accumulated between 11/1/12 - 4/30/13. There will be no daily jackpot available on this trip.
Rule # 17
If no legal halibut are caught on the Fish Off, then the 50% pot money will be split amongst ALL of the Top 25 anglers.
Rule # 18
Position in the Fish Off is non-transferable (meaning if an angler cannot attend the Fish Off, then the angler who caught the next largest halibut will be offered the opportunity).
Rule # 19
In the case of a tie on the Fish Off, the largest halibut will be determined by weight AND length.


Refund/Rescheduling Policy

Non-refundable, cannot be rescheduled.
Once purchased, tickets cannot be refunded and cannot be rescheduled because your space is being guaranteed at the event.

Weather Policy

Activity may be cancelled due to severe weather.
The activity usually runs in light rain and other moderate weather conditions, but the seller may cancel the activity up to an hour before the start time in the event of severe or unsafe weather conditions. If the seller cancels the event, ticket-holders will be allowed to reschedule tickets (subject to availability) or receive credit for a future event.

Other Policies

Anglers must have a fishing license before boarding the boat.
All anglers 16 years of age or older are required to have a fishing license in their possession before boarding the boat. One-day licenses can be purchased prior to departure , it is recommended that you buy your licenses on line before arrival for no delays https://www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/ . Non-anglers are not required to have a license but must have a ticket to board
Participants must have a rod and tackle to fish on the trip.
Participants fishing on the trip must have a rod and tackle suitable for the day's fishing, which are not included in the regular price of the trip. If you do not have your own, you can rent a rod, as well as purchase tackle at our shop prior to departure.
Rules and eligibility requirements will be provided.
The Halibut Derby trips are subject to certain rules and eligibility requirements that will be provided to you at the start of the trip. To review these rules and requirements before purchasing, please see our frequently asked questions.


Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching

Dana Wharf Sportfishing has been bringing high quality fishing experiences to residents and anglers of the Dana Point and surrounding areas since 1958.

Set in a beautiful and flourishing harbor, Dana Wharf Sportfishing showcases several top of the line vessels, from the fiberglass Dana Pride to the steel Clemente, recently refitted in 2006. All of the boats ensure total passenger comfort and enhance the fishing experience.

Dana Wharf Sportfishing's experienced, family oriented crew is there to make your fishing experience as enjoyable and educational as possible - every skill and experience level is welcome, from first timers to seasoned fisherman.
Please call Zerve at
1 (800) 979-3370
to get more information or
book this activity now
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