Catching the tournament’s big fish played a major role in an Atascadero team winning the Tri Valley Tournament Saturday in a drizzle at Santa Margarita Lake.
Graham Grove, 22, and Austin Bonjour, 20, only had three fish midway through the second tourney on the Tri Valley slate. But, one of their fish weighed 11.12 pounds, and proved to be the difference maker.
Grove employed a 7-inch swimbait in reeling in the tournament’s big fish from five feet of water.
Their six-fish limit of 33.37 pounds was nearly five pounds more than runners-up Louis Fernandes and Don Bergaman from Santa Maria.
Graham and Bonjour are only in their second season as teammates. Their first campaign was highlighted by a 12th-place finish in the Ranger Boats American Bass North Team Classic at Clear Lake. Seventeen teams with Central Coast ties qualified for the event. Of that group, Grove and Bonjour came home with the fourth biggest check.
Tri Valley Bass Top, Number of Fish, Weight
1. Graham Grove, Austin Bonjour, Atascadero, 6, 33.37 pounds; 2. Louis Fernandes, Don Bergman, Santa Maria, 6, 28.59 pounds; 3. Darrin Bishop, Paso Robles, Del Bishop, Templeton, 6, 24.62 pounds; 4. Clark Endres, Atascadero, Brandon Strefico, San Luis Obispo, 6, 22.00 pounds; 5. Mike & Greg Higgins, Santa Maria, 6, 19.66 pounds; 6, Patrick Touey, Nipomo, Kyle Greenlaw, San Luis Obispo, 6, 16.96 pounds; 7. Tip Martin, San Luis Obispo, Bill Lukeman, Santa Maria, 6, 16.49 pounds; 8. Aaron Quarles, Nipomo, Jaden Jones, Camarillo, 3, 14.21 pounds; 9. Nick & Tony Salvucci, Atascadero, 3, 12.53 pounds; 10. Johnny Johnson, Santa Maria, Rob Marquez, Orcutt, 4, 11.70 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 11.12 pounds, Grove & Bonjour; 2nd Big Fish, 6.96 pounds, Fernandes & Bergman.
On Saturday, only eight of the 34 teams entered in the second event on the Best Bass Coastal Region schedule managed to catch a five-fish limit at Lopez Lake.
The runners-up, Sal Rocha of Grover Beach and Dustin Selck of Atascadero, took big fish honors with an 8.09-pound largemouth.
Their bag weighed 21.14 pounds, which was 0.73 pounds behind the winners, Scott Mullins of Salinas and Tim Mullins from Templeton. The victors earned a $1,500 check for their 21.87-pound limit.
Top 10, Number of Fish, Weight, Winnings
1. Scott Mullins, Salinas, Tim Mullins, Templeton, 5, 21.87 pounds, $1,560; 2. Sal Rocha, Grover Beach, Dustin Selck, Atascadero, 5, 21.14 pounds, $1,055; 3. Jay Short, Templeton, Damon Meeks, Atascadero, 5, 18.72 pounds, $585; 4. Jeremy Gearhart, Jason Martin, Atascadero, 5, 16.32 pounds, $405; 5. Jason Ballew, Doug Slayton, Hollister, 5, 15.43 pounds, $170; 6. Brian Beckham, Ty McCutcheon, Bakersfield, 5, 14.00 pounds, $150; 7. Jim & Henry Dobbs, 4, 12.61 pounds, $135; 8. Matt Messina, Eddie Davidson, Atascadero, 4, 12.48 pounds, $65; 9. Stanley Beebe, San Luis Obispo, Andrew Levy, Grover Beach, 5, 11.92 pounds; 10. Mark Snow, Bakersfield, Harlin Gibson, Maricopa, 4, 10.08 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 8.09 pounds, Rocha & Selck.
Highlighting this weekend’s schedule is Sunday’s crab and sanddab trip from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The fare is $59. Skipper Tabby Stamback will again be at the helm of the Rita G. On Sunday, eight passengers harvested lots of sanddabs, 29 Dungeness crabs, one rock crab and three spider crabs.
For reservations, call 772-1222. A trio of whale watching trips commencing at 10 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday round out this weekend’s agenda.
The Patriot is in Ventura for painting and preparing for its annual Coast Guard inspection. The Sea Angler is not scheduled for any trips this weekend.
Morro Bay Landing
Three-hour whale watching trips are scheduled aboard the Slayer from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $40 for adults, $35 for military and seniors 60 and older, $25 for children 12 and under.
For reservations, call 781-5500.
Morro Bay Landing marina manger Glenn Fukumoto said: “Tides are going to be favorable this weekend and I’m going to see if I can catch one of those two and three pounders that are being caught in Morro Bay.”
Santa Margarita Lake
The 11-pound plus largemouth caught in the Feb. 8 Tri Valley tournament is the biggest fish caught in a while.
Jim Thorpe of Santa Margarita used crankbaits to reel in four and two-pound bass Feb. 10.
The highlight of last week’s fishing was the catch of a holdover 9-pound trout by Kenny Weber of Santa Barbara. The catch was made with a flat-lined silver and black CD 5 Rapala.
Other anglers experienced success trolling similar baits near the mouth of Johnson Bay and from Cachuma Point to Santa Cruz Point. Shore fishermen had the most success from the point next to the marina as well as at E Point.
Reportedly, the best tactics were dangling a nightcrawler under a bobber or using PowerBait. Fishing for large and smallmouth bass continues to improve with jigs, Texas rigs and by drop-shotting.