Salinas’ Allan Padua captures Grand Master Trophy at Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby

Monterey Bay

Salinas’ Allan Padua captures Grand Master Trophy at Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby
Allan Padua from Salinas brought home the big trophy this year, wining with a 15.25-inch barred surf perch.

by Allen Bushnell

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID regulations, the famous Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby came roaring back this year on March 12, at the Portuguese Hall in Santa Cruz. State and County Health regulations finally allowed indoor gatherings of up to 1000 people, which gave organizers the green light for the year. Over 300 anglers and family were able to attend the event this year. Anglers came from near and far to vie for ridiculously pompous GrandMaster’s Trophy. The prize stands nearly five feet high, festooned with sea eagles and of course, a leaping perch for the top piece.
Respectful of individual health concerns, the raffle and awards ceremony were held outside on a beautiful Saturday afternoon that graced us with sunshine and shady spots as well. Diners enjoyed the Tri-Tip and BBQ chicken luncheon with seating both inside and outside the Hall, according to their choice.
Though fishing seemed ”slow” in the weeks leading to this annual event, a good number of hog perch were weighed in before the cut-off time of one pm. The biggest perch this year was a barred surf perch caught by long-time attendee Allan Padua of Salinas whose 15.25-inch barred surf perch captured the Grand Master Trophy. Padua is no stranger to the awards ceremony, having earnied trophies on a regular basis through the years. His slab BSP weighed in at two pounds, ten ounces. It weighed even more before weigh-masters cleaned all the sand off the fish.
The complete leaderboard can be viewed at, along with photos and video’s of this years’ event. Notable First-place trophy winners include Josh Shinsato for Men’s BSP (14.75-inches caught near 26th Ave in Santa Cruz), Kim Ressa for Women’s BSP (12.5 inches at Seascape), Matt Michie for “Men’s Other Perch”(14.0 striped perch from Monterey), Molly Hanson captured “Women’s Other” (10-inch black perch). Kristina Zepeda got the Junior BSP trophy (13.5-inch from Santa Cruz Harbor) and Caden Williams brought home the Junior “Other” trophy with a 15-inch pile perch.
Captain Mike Baxter and I are the primary organizers for this event which benefits the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project with a donation each year. But, most of the credit for success goes to nearly 30 tireless volunteers for setup and breakdown, raffle sales, silent auctions, music and sound plus the fabulous kitchen and cleanup crews. Barring anything unforeseen, we will continue to host this benefit event every year, on the second Saturday of March. Watch this column closely for sign-up announcements towards the end of December 2022. The event is so popular we sold out 300 entries in less than one hour for this years’ registration list.

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