Fishing Report: Birkholz reels in big halibut catch

Special to The TribuneJuly 31, 2013 

The heaviest halibut harvested by anglers out of Port San Luis since 2011 was caught
July 23 in 80 feet of water off Oso Flaco. 

Greg Birkholz hoisted the 37-pound, 2-ounce flattie aboard Harrell Kimball’s boat after a 10-minute skirmish around noon.

Birkholz, Kimball and Garry O’Roark composed the fishing party that embarked out of the Port San Luis Sports Launch around 7 a.m. 

“We were bounce balling for halibut,” said Birkholz of Arroyo Grande. “The catch was made with a chrome dodger and an ultra violet Hoochie accented over a dead squid.

“It’s amazing how one fish can change the whole atmosphere aboard a boat. All three of us easily got at least three halibut dinners for two from that fish.”

The previous largest halibut of 2013 was a 26-pound, 1-ounce flattie caught by 15-year-old Nick Webster on July 21. A year ago, the heaviest halibut was a 

26-pounder caught by Atascadero’s Brent Lintner on Sept. 2. Birkholz’s catch was the biggest halibut since a 38-pounder was brought in by San Luis Obispo’s Pablo Chagolla on July 17, 2011.

First albacore catch

The first albacore caught out of Morro Bay or Port San Luis this year was landed by Mark Van Wagner of Paso Robles on Monday embarking out of Morro Bay. Efforts to contact him were unsuccessful. 

Five boats dispatched out of Port San Luis last weekend scouted waters around The Donut and beyond without finding any tuna.

Cloud cover for nearly a month has prevented getting satellite pictures of the ocean, leaving anglers unsure where the best locations are to prospect for albies. Winds are forecast this weekend, hopefully dispatching the cloud cover and making possible helpful satellite pictures.

Birkholz motored up to Monterey early Monday where he fished for tuna aboard a boat owned by Jack Gordano of Monterey. 

“We went out 70 miles at sea and caught five albacore from 15 to 25 pounds,” Birkholz said. “I caught two of them and gaffed the other three. We experienced a number of short strikes.”

Wounded Warriors benefit

A saltwater fishing tournament set for Aug. 24 will benefit the second-annual Wounded Warrior fishing trip, which is scheduled for Oct. 5.

Last year the vessel that transported some of our nation’s heroes for a day of fishing out of Morro Bay was donated. It is no longer available.

Staging Wounded Warriors experience No. 2 is expected to cost $3,000. Thus far, proceeds from a May 18 tournament, plus a $2,000 grant from PG&E has generated funds ear marked to pay for this year’s event.

Birkholz, president of Anglers Anonymous Central Coast, is accepting donations and tournament entries.  The Aug. 24 tourney will embark out of Port San Luis. Entry fees are $30 per person and all aboard each boat must be entered in the tournament. Competition will be in two categories — rockcod/lingcod and salmon/halibut/white seabass. Cash awards will be paid for the heaviest overall fish as well as first-, second- and third-place awards in each category.

Checks can be sent to Birkholz, 375 Helroy Road, Arroyo Grande, 93420.

Port San Luis Boatyard

The most halibut caught this year were logged last week — 25. The lingcod count was 125, the fifth-highest weekly total of the season. Launched were 151 private boats. 

Full rockcod limits were registered each day last week.

Patriot Sportfishing

Atascadero’s John Mulay took over the lead in the July-August segment of Patriot’s ninth-annual Lingcod Contest. Mulay bagged a 21-pound, 1-ounce lingcod Tuesday.

The biggest jackpot fish during the week ending July 28 was a 17-8 ling caught by Tom Romero of Clovis. Other jackpot winners included: Bryan Meadows, Morro Bay, 14-0 ling, Raul Espinoza, Visalia, 12-0 ling, Peri Rasi, Templeton, and Mick Hogan, Visalia, both 10-0 lings, Elizabeth Fisher, Visalia, 9-0 ling, Kimberly McKee, Santa Maria, Bill Davies, Fresno, and Noah Bixler, Menifee, all 8-0 lings, Ty Antone, Murrieta, 7-0 ling, David Dominguez, Porterville, 4-0 Tree fish, Batini Robinson, Avila Beach, 3-75 red rockcod, and Dean Carr, Fresno, 3-0 red rockcod.

For trip schedules, reservations call: 595-7200 or go online to

Last week, 353 passengers caught 84 lingcod, 424 red rockcod, 2,229 assorted rockfish, 12 cabezon and one tree fish.

Virg’s Landing
San Luis Obispo angler Jesse Spencer had last week’s biggest jackpot fish, a 14-pound lingcod. 

Other jackpot winners included: Mary Anne Ceras, Atascadero, 13-0 ling, Ron Wilson, Bakersfield, and John Nutting, Las Vegas, both 12-0 lings, Carl Anderson, Visalia, 11-0 ling, Ivan Horne, Morro Bay, 9-0 ling, Ed Leyender, Dinuba, and Rodney Burks, Visalia, both 8-0 lings, Tom Scruggs, Grover Beach, 7-0 ling, Nate Erlen, Morro Bay, 7-0 red rockcod, Allysny Pugh, Porterville, 5-0 ling, and Tash Curtis, Bakersfield, 5-0 red rockcod.

Reservations are being taken for the next two-day trip, scheduled for Aug. 17-18. For trip schedules and reservations, call 772-1222 or go online to

Last week, 525 customers caught 81 lingcod, 646 red rockcod, 4,316 assorted rockfish, one halibut and six cabezon.

Whale Rock
Six of the eight trout caught last week were taken by Jeff Minkler on back-to-back days.  On Saturday, his catch included 14-, 15- and 18-inch fish. The next day he bagged a pair of 14-inchers and a 16-inch trout. His total for the year is 16 fish, all of them caught on worms. 

Brandon Krips caught 17- and 18-inch trout Sunday,  he claims on a “secret bait.” Twenty-three anglers tried their luck. Whale Rock has been open for fishing 68 days, attracted 621 anglers who have caught 113 trout. The facility is open Wednesdays through Sundays.

Nacimiento Lake

Heritage Ranch reporter Dave Rymal said: “About the only thing being caught currently are a few catfish.”

Santa Margarita Lake

Early morning and evenings are the best times to fish, notes marina manager Don Lopez. Bass, bluegill, redear, crappie and some catfish are being taken.

Lopez Lake

Bakersfield’s Freddy Gonzales caught a 4 1⁄2-pound largemouth bass on a Bitsy Bug jig. Paul Lopez retrieved a 2-pound, 1-ounce bluegill on a white crappie jig while Oxnard’s Robert Thompson landed a 1 7⁄8-pound bluegill on a silver minnow on a jig.

Cachuma Lake

Tournament bass fishermen have found limits hard to achieve in recent competitions. Cut mackerel and nightcrawlers are accounting for catfish coming out of Martini Bay, Clark Canyon and Johnson’s Bay.  Trolling eight to nine colors of leadcore line with Dodger/Needlefish of Dodger/Crawler combos is working for trout to 3 1⁄4 pounds. Mini jigs, tipped with meal worms, are attracting crappie on the back side of Santa Cruz Point. 

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