A new bass tournament series is thriving to the point that the mastermind of 101 Bass, Jim Slusher, and his partner, Erik Zillig, were winners for the first time Saturday at Lopez Lake.
The fishing scene broadens Saturday when salmon season opens so the saltwater set will get back on the ocean after being idled since Dec. 31, when the rockcod season closed.
Cachuma Lakes 17th-annual Trout Derby is April 14-15.
A possible Santa Margarita Lake bass record was torpedoed by failure to follow protocol. More about that missed opportunity later.
The inaugural 101 Bass series has averaged more than 30 teams and has had five different winning teams. Only Jared Lintner and Nick Salvucci have finished among the top five teams three times. They lead the standings with 480 points. Five other teams each have placed among the top five twice. A mere 21 points separate the top five tandems in the current standings.
Slusher and Zillig had a sizzling beginning, putting 17 pounds in the live well in the first 45 minutes of the Lopez event.
Zillig was all about celebrating his 39th birthday two days early as the partners motored beyond 14 other boats already in the Wittenberg Arm. He nailed a 4 1-2-pounder on his third buzzbait cast. Fifteen minutes later he retrieved the events biggest fish, 9.09 pounds. That fish contributed $495 of the teams total winnings of $3,095.
While I was catching fish on Senkos, Zillig, a self-anointed topwater junkie, was contributing with buzzbaits in the shallow, 63-degree water, Slusher said.
The mastermind, who dreamed up the series, added a 5-pounder later when the pair fished near the bridge. Their winning 25.18-pound limit bested the father-daughter team of Ken and Kenna Sauret, who had a 22.16-pound total.
101 Bass Top 10 (all 5-fish limits), Weight, Winnings
1.Jim Slusher, Atascadero, Erik Zillig, Paso Robles, 25.18 pounds, $3,095; 2. Ken & Kenna Sauret, Paso Robles, 22.16 pounds, $1,580; 3. Damon Meeks, Atascadero, Jay Short, Templeton, 19.62 pounds, $670; 4. Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Nick Salvucci, San Miguel, 18.98 pounds, $270; 5. Dana & Clayton Chatterly, Lompoc, 18.79 pounds, $220; 6. Todd Reccord, Paso Robles, Ron Reccord, Nipomo, 18.65 pounds, $180; 7.Brad Shepherd, Clark Endres, Atascadero, 18.51 pounds; 8. Louis Fernandes, Santa Maria, Patrick Touey, Nipomo, 18.40 pounds; 9. Jeff Rose, Rich Zeilenga, Oceano, 17.74 pounds; 10. Fred & Freddy Ledesma, Soledad, 17.12 pounds. 1st Big Fish, 9.09 pounds, Slusher & Zillig, $495.
Marc Hazuka, a veteran of many bass skirmishes on Lake San Antonio, finally bested a nemesis, the lake itself.
Id never placed higher than third on San Antone, Hazuka said. It took me two days to do it but I finally prevailed last weekend.
Hazuka trailed Austin Bonjour by 78-hundredths of a pound after Saturdays Bass Ambushers competition 13.57 to 12.79 pounds.
I was the first boat in Bee Rock on Sunday where I caught several quality smallmouths that I hadnt been able to catch on Saturday, Hazuka said. While a lot of guys were hugging the shoreline, I had day one success drop shotting in four feet of water at the end of a flat 200 yards off shore.
Windy conditions Sunday forced me to alter my approach. The wind propelled my boat along the bank as I fired spinnerbaits into stickups. My 15.97-pound Sunday limit included two pre spawn female largemouths in excess of three pounds.
Bonjour had the fourth-heaviest limit Sunday (13.41 pounds) to finish second.
Newcomer Tom Ormonde had the big fish both days, 3.53 and 6.88 pounds.
Craig Zillig, 12, caught his biggest fish, 3.31 pounds while fishing with his uncle Erik.
Ambushers 2-Day event, No. Fish, Weight, Winnings
1. Marc Hazuka, Atascadero, 10, 28.94 pounds, $210; 2. Austin Bonjour, Atascadero, 10, 26.98 pounds, $18; 3. Joey Davis, Atascadero, 10, 25.74 pounds, $66; 4. Jacob Lewis, Atascadero, 10, 23.41 pounds, $40; 5. Jeremy Lewis, Atascadero, 10. 20.89 pounds, $26; 6. Burt Lund, Atascadero, 8, 20.22 pounds, $60; 7. Tom Ormonde, Atascadero, 6, 20.00 pounds; 8. Jesse Wilson, Atascadero, 9, 18.08 pounds; 9. Jeremy Donk, Atascadero, 6, 16.08 pounds; 10. Steve Jiminez, 7, 15.54 pounds.
Day 1 Big Fish, 3.53 pounds, Ormonde; Day 2 Big fish, 6.88 pounds, Ormonde, $205.
Lot of distant success
The Coastal Region of another new tournament series, Best Bass, has attracted most of its teams from distant towns. Thirty-one teams entered event No. 3 at Santa Margarita Lake on Saturday.
Robert Duncan of San Juan Bautista, and Clark Poulson of San Martin won with a 26.21-pound limit worth $1,455. Teams from Bakersfield, Lancaster and Fresno claimed the next four spots.
Nipomos Casey Langley and San Luis Obispos Justin Goodman were the highest placing local team. They were sixth with a 19.62-pound limit that paid $175. In 10th place, but out of the money, were Clay Gates and Matt Mullikin of Paso Robles with a 14.94-pound limit.
Back to what might have been
The Santa Margarita Lake bass record set March 6, 2011 is 14.33 pounds. An unidentified shore fisherman reportedly caught a 14-pound, 9-ounce bass over the weekend. Apparently, there is a photo of the fish and the angler. But it wasnt weighed on the certified scale kept in the rangers booth at the entrance of the lake so its not a record.
Cal Poly team qualifies
By placing fifth at the California Delta on Saturday Cal Polys Kyle Greenlaw and John Zeolla earned a berth in the FLW National Guard Western Regional tournament to be held later this year. The top five placing teams in the four Western events earn regional berths.
Greenlaw and Zeolla had a 17-pound, 5-ounce limit in the third series event. Sacramento States Robert Matsuura and Thomas Kanemoto were winners with a 26-pound, 3-ounce limit. The final regular season event is at Clear Lake on April 28.
Port San Luis Boatyard
Boat moorings are available for a fee of $10 per night for owners wishing to get an early start for the opening of salmon season Saturday. The launch basin has been dredged since March 1 with clean-up operations continuing to remove sand brought in by last weekends storm. The launch will open at 5 a.m. Saturday. Launching fees are unchanged from 2011.
The Fiesta and Princess, with a capacity of 14 anglers each, are slated to fish the salmon opener Saturday. Cost is $89 Call 772-1222 for reservations and more information.
The Patriot, with a capacity of 16 anglers is full for Saturdays salmon opener. The landing will be closed Easter Sunday and reopen with spots available for Mondays trip and throughout the week. Cost is $84 for the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. trips.
Call 595-7200 for reservations and more information.
Santa Margarita Lake
On Tuesday Arroyo Grandes Ed Alarcio used a Strike King jig with a trailer in landing a 12-pound, 2-ounce bass.
A 4,500-pound trout plant was received Wednesday and a 4,000-pound Calaveras Hatchery plant is scheduled for April 13 in time for the 17th-annual Trout Derby April 14-15. Trout limits required time and effort last week with Santa Cruz Bay best for trollers. Shore fisherman had most success at Harveys Cove and E Point. Jigs, cranks and plastics are working for bass.