Atascadero angler catches a huge ling

Special to The TribuneJune 12, 2013 

The largest lingcod caught by a sports fisherman off the Central Coast in a number of years was bagged early Sunday afternoon by an Atascadero angler. He was on an Encore Glass Co. charter out of Virg’s Landing.

Allen Jacobs, who has been fishing out of Virg’s off and on for 20 years, prepared for the final drop of the day by baiting his hook with two live squid.

Rick Craddick, owner-operator of the 65-foot Black Pearl, was familiar with the abundant fishery at Pt. Purisima. Thirty years ago, he had piloted the Marauder for the late Bob Honley, then owner of Port San Luis Sportfishing (now Patriot Sportfishing).

With time running out, Jacobs sought a final harvest in 60 feet of water. The bait was intercepted before hitting bottom. His guesstimate was a four to five-pound fish.

“I also had a suspicion that there was a lingcod hitchhiker. I tested my theory by releasing the bail and allowing my catch to drop 10 feet,” Jacobs said.

“I did this several times before starting the retrieve. It was apparent I was cranking up more than a small fish. It was a grind,” sighed the 56-year-old owner of Jacobs Landscape.

Once he brought his catch to the surface Captain James Ottens, who was filling the role of a deckhand, gaffed the huge ling and retrieved the vermillion rockcod.

“The ling was wearing my hook in its lower jaw. It meant I won the $100 jackpot. Had the ling been a hitchhiker, I would have lost out.”

During the four-hour trip back to Morro Bay, the ling was kept alive in the bait tank. When the party arrived at the marina a scale was brought out. The ling weighed 32 pounds and was 40 inches long, exceeding the predictions of the 17 other passengers and crew.

John Rowley, retired Virg’s skipper, recalled the catch of a 51-pound ling perhaps a dozen years ago.

“A 46-pound ling had swallowed a 5-pound ling,” he said. “That was on a two-day trip aboard the Admiral. We were fishing at Big Sur and that area has been off limits for a number of years.”

Tri Valley Bass

Atascadero’s Brad Shepherd, aided by a new partner in the absence of his usual sidekick, won last Saturday's Tri Valley Bass tournament by a 41⁄2-pound margin at Lopez Lake.

“Once we arrived at a desired spot that had been vacated, we put 171⁄2 pounds in our live well in a matter of 20 minutes,” Shepherd beamed.

Swimbaits produced before the hot bite’s abrupt end.

Matt Pigeon accounted for the victors’ biggest fish, 6.59 pounds, on a jig about 9:30 a.m. It was the event’s second big fish, bested only by a 6.67-pound largemouth bagged by the third-place duo from Atascadero, Dave Wills and Chase Casteneda.

“We visited a number of my best spots culling eight or 10 times en route to a six-fish 25.22-pound bag total,” Shepherd said.

Only 10 six-fish team limits were logged by 30 teams competing on windy Lopez.

Best Bass Tourney

The lone local tandem finishing in the top 10 in the final regular season Best Bass Coastal Region tourney at Nacimiento Lake was Atascadero’s Austin Bonjour and Graham Grove. They placed eighth June 8 in a field of 22 boats with four fish, good for 5.12 pounds. The tournament director did not respond with further details.

Port San Luis Boatyard

Sixty lingcod were brought in last Saturday, when 35 boats were launched. The total was second only to May 4, when fishermen aboard 68 boats landed 82 lings.  Nipomo’s Doug Webster’s 16-pound ling on June 4 took Whopper of the Week honors. The year’s biggest lingcod catch (169) plus 21 salmon highlighted the week. Full rockcod limits were logged on three days, and 169 boats were dispatched. Dave Hartman of Santa Maria is this week’s whopper leader with a 201⁄4-pound salmon caught June 12th.

Virg’s Landing

The 18 passengers on the overnight Saturday to Sunday charter caught 16 lingcod, 41 red rockcod, 130 assorted rockfish and one cabezon.

For reservations, trip schedules call: 772-1222 or go online to

Lingcod accounted for all of last week’s jackpots. Winners and weights were: William Lassley, Boulder City, 18-0;  Michael Wandick, Long Beach, 16-0; Joseph Brown, Fresno, 15-0; Dalton Elers, Cayucos, 13-0; Charles Grimshaw, Templeton, 12-0; Jorge Coston, Hanford, 11-0; Miguel Martinez, Lemoore, Brett Eymeral, Bakersfield, and Jim Lasswell, Coalinga, all 10-0; George Suchand, San Luis Obispo, and David Hernandez, Bakersfield, both 8-0; and Cody Smith, Atascadero, 7-0.

Patriot Sportfishing

A 17-15 lingcod caught by Bakersfield’s John Sturgeon topped the catch of 310 anglers last week. Taking jackpots with lingcod were Roger York, San Luis Obispo, 14-2; Manny Lemos, Pismo Beach, 11-8; Jesse Gauna, Santa Maria, 10-0; Randy Swanson, San Luis Obispo, 8-0; Trevor Lamley, Madera, and Mario Sayabuaovong, Bakersfield, both 7-0; Jonathon Juarez, Fallbrook, and Jose Zacaarias, Santa Maria, both 6-0. Lompoc’s Harold Gumm was a winner with a 6-0 red rockcod.
For reservations, trip schedules call: 595-7200 or go online to 

Whale Rock

Seventeen trout were caught, nine on PowerBait and eight on worms, by 43 anglers last week. On June 5 and 6, Jeremy Harkins bagged a 19-inch, two 17s, two 16s and three 15s on PowerBait. Eric White landed an 18-inch on PB on June 9. The following caught trout on worms: Gary Collier a 16 and 17-inch, Josh Hansen a 13 and 18-inch, Nick Borrow and Jeff Minkler both 18-inch, John French a 17-inch and Dave Pabinquit a 15-inch. The reservoir is open Wednesdays through Sundays for fishing.

Nacimiento Lake

Heritage Ranch reporter Dave Rymal, along with Brad Sawyer and his son, Brandon, visitors from Redondo Beach, harvested  20 white bass from a boil last Friday. They used silver Kastmasters. On Monday, Bunky Charles and Jack and Brad Foster fished a boil with Pop R’s, catching 60 whites.

Finding boiling shad is key to angling success.

Lopez Lake

Bernadette La Barr reports from the marina that Lompoc’s Debbie Gibbons caught a 2-pound bluegill last week, while Santa Maria’s Alan Pacasen from the F dock reeled in a 13⁄4-pound crappie on a micro jig and fly.

Santa Margarita Lake

The lake is low but both the White Oak and main launch ramp are still open. Marina Manager Don Lopez says five and six-pound bass are being caught and some bluegill, red ear and crappie.

“We’d like to see more anglers,” he said.

Cachuma Lake

On June 22, a class for beginning adult anglers is being sponsored by the Neal Taylor Nature Center. The 8:45 to noon class is limited to 30 adults. The fee is $10. For details, call 693-0691 or email

Marina Manager Ken Hemer reports: “Last week, bass were biting on topwater lures as well as shallow crankbaits and shad imitations. Trollers connected with trout at a depth of five to six colors of leadcore line. Rapalas were the most productive. Meal worms and mini jigs worked for crappie.”

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