Fishing off the Central Coast took on a new dimension this week with Wednesday’s opening of the rockcod and lingcod seasons.
Those species had been off limits since Dec. 31. Salmon have been in season for a month, but it has not been a productive 25 days.
On Wednesday, Patriot Sportfishing had the Rita G out with 28 passengers aboard, and the Patriot with 24 anglers.
Virg’s dispatched three boats Wednesday. On a half day, the Fiesta carried 16 anglers while the Black Pearl had 15 on board for a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. trip, and the Princess carried 32 fishermen on a 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. trip.
Thirty-five boats were launched from the Sports Launch at Port San Luis. Harold Lovett reported the first two boats in had eight salmon. That’s on the heels of the best salmon totals of the season Tuesday when anglers on eight boats caught 12 salmon.
Trout season kicked off last weekend in the Sierras and locally at Whale Rock reservoir.
Bass tournaments are still very much in evidence with the sixth stop on the 101 Bass agenda a thing of beauty. A mere 1.07 pounds separated the top four teams at Santa Margarita Lake.
A catch made in a cove only wide enough for two boats side-by-side was decisive in Saturday’s 101 Bass competition at Santa Margarita Lake.
“Although it only took us 30 minutes to catch a limit, we continued to fish fast and kept moving,” Dean Miller said.
Finding this tiny cove at about 12:30 was fortuitous.
“It’s where we caught three bass feeding on a shad ball,” Miller said.
He only saw two of them — 4- and 5-pounders he retrieved.
“When I cast a white jig into the middle of that ball,” Miller said, “I connected with a 9.73-pound bass that had been feeding underneath. We danced on the deck once my partner (Darrell Masterson) got it on board.”
As they approached their 3:30 p.m. weigh-in, their Cul-m-Rite scale read less than 24 pounds. They became wary.
Meanwhile, having a great day was a veteran tandem that had not placed higher than 10th in five prior events.
Furthermore, they had failed to finish in the money.
Templeton’s Byron Hallett and his teammate of 15 years, Paso Robles’ George Stamper, elected to fish slow all day. The majority of the 15 to 18 fish they caught ate drop-shotted Senkos.
“Our biggest fish heading into the final hour were 5-pounders,” Hallett said. “We went back to where we had started the day, and George nailed a 7-pounder and we added a 6-pound fish, both by drop-shotting.”
When Hallett and Stamper arrived at the scales they were advised that two 24-pound bags had already been recorded. Weigh master Damon Meeks waited until their fish had quieted down. Their limit weighed 24.26 pounds. It was good for second place and $1,390.
Miller and Masterson weighed in last. They were pleasantly surprised by their 25.2-pound sack. It meant 101 win No. 2 and $2,340.
Hallett and Stamper trailed by 94-hundredths of a pound. Austin Bonjour and Graham Grove placed third — 1.05 pounds out of first — and Brad Shepherd and Clark Endres were fourth, just 1.07 off the lead.
101 Bass Top 10 (all 5-fish limits), Weight, Winnings
1. Dean Miller, Darrel Masterson, Tulare, 25.20 pounds, $2,340; 2. Byron Hallett, Templeton, George Stamper, Paso Robles, 24.26 pounds, $1,390; 3. Austin Bonjour, Graham Grove, Atascadero, 24.15 pounds, $630; 4. Brad Shepherd, Clark Endres, Atascadero, 24.13 pounds, $240; 5. Carlos & Jacob Vasquez, Soledad, 21.85 pounds, $190; 6. Sam Sawdey, Paso Robles, Ralph Sawdey, Shandon, 19.99 pounds; 7. Dan Barrios, San Luis Obispo, Casey Langley, Nipomo, 19.28 pounds; 8. Damon Meeks, Atascadero, Jay Short, Templeton, 18.87 pounds; 9. Randy McAbee. Ty McCutcheon, Bakersfield, 17.50 pounds; 10. Tom Vienola, Mead Hedricks, Lompoc, 17.46 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 11.08 pounds, Aaron Quarles, Marc Weiting, Nipomo, $420.
On April 23, Santa Maria’s Barbara Carter earned the first 2013 Whopper of the Week with the catch of a 22 1⁄2-pound salmon. Ten of the week’s total of 12 salmon were caught that day when eight boats were in the hunt. Since the April 6 salmon opener, only 21 fish have been caught by anglers aboard boats dispatched from the Sports Launch.
Harold Lovett reported at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday that nine of the 35 dis-patched boats were still out. Counted were 22 salmon, the best single day of the year, and 17 lingcod. Rockcodders were averaging half to three-quarter limits.
On three sanddab-crab trips last week, 39 passengers caught 135 dungeness, four rock crab and two salmon.
The landing’s two boats, the Rita G and the Patriot are booked solid for Saturday and Sunday. Space is available on Friday for the 7 a.m.-to-noon trip for $52 and a 7 a.m.-to-2 p.m. trip for $68.
For reservations and more information, call 595-7200 or visit www.patriotsportfishing.com
The first boat in May 1, the Fiesta with 16 anglers on board, had a catch of five lingcod, 48 red rockcod and 112 assorted rockfish.
Jim Carroll of Bakersfield took jackpot honors with an 8-pound lingcod.
For schedules and reservations, call 772-1222.
Reduced fares ($49) are offered on 8 a.m.-to-2 p.m. Ladies Day trips. Men are welcome to join them for $59.
Today at West Point Lake in La Grange, Ga., Arroyo Grande’s Jared Lintner and 99 other Bassmaster Elite pros begin their fourth event on the eight-tournament schedule. Two years ago, Lintner placed fourth at this venue.
Fishing opened last weekend and nine trout were caught by 16 anglers. A dozen fishermen turned out Saturday and caught four fish. On Sunday, five fish were caught by four anglers.
Heritage Ranch reporter Dave Rymal says winds have hampered fishing. However, on Tuesday Jack Foster, Brad Foster and Bunky Charles caught 40 white bass, six spots and a 6-pound catfish.
Marina staffer Lacey Wineman reports the latest catch logged was an April 29 stringer of 20 redear and bluegill by
Arroyo Grande’s Tino Yracheta. The fish ranged from 1 to 11⁄4 pounds and were caught from the F dock.
Santa Margarita Lake
Don Lopez reports red worms are working for nice stringers of bluegill and redear. Bass are shallow and being caught drop-shotting and on swimbaits.
Trollers paying out three-to-four colors of leadcore line with dodger/crawler combos has been effective for trout. Shore fishermen using PowerBait and inflated nightcrawlers have had mixed results. Bass are up tight to the banks. Blades, topwater and rip baits are productive. Trolled Rapalas and mini jigs are working for crappie.