The catch in last weekend's sixth annual Reel 'Em In Trout Derby came early in the competition. In fact, it was so early tournament officials weren't ready to begin logging catches of tagged trout.
As things turned out, the measurement of trout occupied more time than sorting out the tagged rainbows.
Only two of the 75 tagged fish planted in the lake for the tournament were caught.
Matthew Campbell, an 18-year-old Atascadero High senior, actually won the grand prize in the first hour of the two-day tournament. But, since the Derby was a two-day affair, his state of suspense extended for some 30 hours. He bided his time by continuing to fish Sunday.
It wasn't until the awards ceremony commenced shortly after the event closed at noon Sunday that Campbell learned the $3,000 was his - almost.
Campbell earned the $3,000 all right, but he had agreed to share the prize with seven other friends including his boating partner, Mitchell Dey of Atascadero.
The prize-winning trout wearing tag No. 73 was caught on a spoon lure.
"It was the first fish we caught," Campbell said.
The catch was made while trolling lead core line close to the surface in the middle of the lake in the vicinity of the dam.
Was he surprised?
"Very," Campbell said.
Santa Maria's Steve Marquez caught the other tagged trout. His No. 19 fish was worth $1,000.
Registered Derby contestants who catch a tagged trout before the May 20 deadline will earn $50. Non-registered anglers who catch a tagged trout will win $25.
The Derby attracted 396 participants.
Other prize winners included: Longest trout, adult division, 1. Dave Barnard, Guadalupe, 191 1/4 inches, $300; 2. Danielle Lucon, Lompoc, 1878 inches, $100; 3. Dan Dostal, Grover Beach, 1834 inches, $50. Longest trout, kids division (age 15 and under), 1. Dallas Hotchkiss, 15, Santa Maria, 1912 inches, $300; 2. Brandon Rosales, Santa Maria, 1878 inches, $100; 3. Elysha Cortez, Guadalupe, 1858 inches, $50. Port Side Marine During the first six days of the rockcod fishing season (May 1-6): One launched boat targeted salmon with one salmon caught, 57 private boats launched seeking rockcod with 17 lingcod caught. Three-quarter to full limits were logged three days; three-quarter limits for two days and half to three quarter limits for one day. Jeff Rose of Arroyo Grande was the Whopper of the Week winner with the catch of a 12.7-pound lingcod May 2.
Patriot Sportfishing During the rockcod opening week, 10 rockcod boats carried 297 passengers. The catch included: 1,057 assorted rockcod; 1,044 red rockcod; 13 lingcod; 266 bolina; one halibut; 21 bocaccio and 2,402 total fish. Five passengers on a May 2 salmon trip caught three salmon. Jackpot winners: Dan Barrios, San Luis Obispo, 8-pound lingcod; Jeremy Harrison, Visalia, 7-pound lingcod; Bruce Vanderhoef, Goleta, 20-pound salmon; Mike Shipman, Arroyo Grande, Ryan Taylor, Morro Bay, Doug Holloway, Tollhouse, and Trina Flores, Atascadero, all 7-pound red rockcod; Jodie Bybie, Hesperia, 8-pound lingcod; Gilbert Akleat, San Luis Obispo, 6-pound red rockcod; and John Delon, Fresno, and Steve Alman, Orange, both 4-pound red rockcod.
Virg's Landing Totals for the first four days of the rockcod season: 416 passengers caught 13 lingcod, 1,882 red rockcod and 1,795 assorted rockfish. Jackpot winners: Melissa Martin, Santa Barbara, Rick Freeman, Los Gatos and Beverly Seltzer, Los Gatos, all 12-pound lingcod; Will Malloy, Bakersfield and Robert Gonzales, Corcoran, both 11-pound lingcod; Roldel Jimenez, Fresno, 10-pound lingcod; Kevin Redorit, Atascadero, 8-pound lingcod; Ivan Morales, Fresno, 7-pound red rockcod; Joy Sayarth, Fresno, and Joe King, Morro Bay, both 6-pound lingcod; Sergio Chavana, Avenal, and Erin Howard, Madera, both 5-pound red rockcod; and Ross Scott, Clovis, 4-pound red rockcod.
Santa Margarita Lake The fifth American Bass Pacific Coast Region tournament drew only five teams Saturday. Templeton's John Wrona IV and partner Scott Seitz of Atascadero became the fifth different champions. The finish, weight, purse: 1. John Wrona, IV, Templeton, Scott Seitz, Atascadero, 17.59 pounds, $556; 2. Randy Claborn, Steve Fernandes, Santa Maria, 16.94 pounds, $40; 3. Johnny Johnson, Santa Maria, B.J. Westbrook, Grover Beach, 14.16 pounds; 4. Mike and Travis Dashek, Santa Maria, 8.67 pounds; 5. Jon Boles, Brandon Martinez, Atascadero, 2.27 pounds. Big fish, Dashek & Dashek, 5.73 pounds, $60. Anthony Scrivner, 6, of Templeton caught a 2-pound bass on a jig. Chuck Hoffman, Atascadero landed a 212-pound trout trolling a Rapala lure by the dam. Kevin West, Los Osos, used an inflated night crawler to catch a 312-pound trout. Cemetery Cove is a productive location for bass and trout, says Don Lopez, marina manager.
Lopez Lake Shore fisherman J.D. Wheeler of Santa Maria caught a 3-pound, 14-ounce trout on a spinnerbait in Cottonwood Cove. Arroyo Grande's Lew Denny caught a 514-pound bass Monday. Marina operator Jerry Weatherly says the red-ear bite is improving. He caught a trio Monday night using red worm on a hook at the end of a 3-foot leader and bobber.
Cachuma Lake Fishing near the dam, marina spokesman John Davis caught a 412-pound trout drifting a night crawler. He labeled the back of Cachuma Bay as a bass ³hot spot.² Soft plastics are working for bass and red and white Maribou jigs for crappie. Catfish in the 212- to 3-pound range are being harvested in The Narrows on night crawlers or mackerel.
Lake San Antonio Last weekend¹s Wildflower Triathlons curtailed fishing. Four- to 6-pound stripers were being caught at 11 p.m. in shallow water at the north end of the lake.
Nacimiento Lake>/b> No report.
Whale Rock Reservoir Gary Collier caught a 14-inch trout on PowerBait while Zane Dodd reeled in a 13-inch trout on a Kastmaster. The turnout was 23 anglers with no other fish caught. The reservoir is open for fishing Wednesdays through Sundays.
Camp Roberts Fishing Thirty-eight trout were caught Saturday. The turnout: 56 adult anglers, 10 juniors and five guests. On Sunday, 53 adults, 14 juniors and four guests were on hand and 41 trout were caught. The base is open Saturdays and Sundays for public fishing.