Shawn Wilson had two strikes against him when he was preparing for Saturday’s 101 Bass tournament at Santa Margarita Lake.
When it comes to competitive fishing — just like baseball — it takes three strikes before you are out.
The resourceful owner of Red Neck Welding not only didn’t go down swinging, he won the tournament. How? He chose the right pinch hitter.
Strike one was Wilson’s 2008 Skeeter boat needed work and wasn’t available. Strike two was when he learned that usual tournament partner Sam Sawdey was going to be out of town over the weekend.
Wilson made a fortuitous selection when he tabbed Ralph Sawdey — Sam’s father — for the pinch hitting assignment.
Ralph Sawdey delivered a home run. First, his boat was tuned and ready and secondly, Sawdey was on fire when it came to catching bass.
“I haven’t been fishing tournaments very much the last couple years,” Ralph Sawdey said in a phone interview, “but last Saturday I had a spectacular day throwing swimbaits. By 8 o’clock we had a limit. Fishing was so good we stayed on this bank all day. We frequently upgraded our catch.”
He estimated catching 20 to 25 fish.
After noting he caught only four or five fish on Rat-L-Traps, Wilson said, “I was netting Ralph’s fish all day. What a blast! I was thrilled netting and being part of my partner’s sensational day.”
The Wilson-Sawdey duo weighed a 21.33-pound limit to win the tournament by 42-hundredths of a pound over San Luis Obispo’s John White and teammate Bobby Doss from Santa Maria. Their limit weighed 20.91 pounds.
A dead big fish cost the White-Doss tandem big fish honors. That went to Gregg and Mike Higgins of Santa Maria with a 6.15-pounder.
101 Bass Top 10 (all 5-fish limits), Weight
1, Shawn Wilson, Lockwood, Ralph Sawdey, Shandon, 21.33 pounds; 2. John White, San Luis Obispo, Bobby Doss, Santa Maria, 20.91 pounds; 3. Gregg & Mike Higgins, Santa Maria, 19.87 pounds; 4. Fred & Freddy Ledesma, Soledad, 19.40 pounds; 5. Austin & Larry Bonjour, Atascadero, 18.83 pounds; 6. Dean Miller & Darrel Masterson, Tulare, 17.98 pounds; 7. Darrin Bishop, Paso Robles, Del Bishop. Templeton, 17.69 pounds; 8. Todd Reccord, Paso Robles, Tom Maddux, Arroyo Grande, 17.35 pounds; 9. Ken Whalen & Dana Chatterly, Lompoc, 17.30 pounds; 10. Byron Hallett, Templeton, George Stamper, Paso Robles, 16.29 pounds. 1st Big Fish, 6.15 pounds, Higgins & Higgins.
Reservations are being taken for long-range rockcod trips Thursday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $89. Half-day (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) rockcod trips are scheduled Friday and Saturday for $59.
Call 772-1222 or go to www.virgs.com for reservations and more information.
The lone salmon trip Friday, with nine anglers aboard the Fiesta, caught one salmon weighing 21 pounds. Two shorts and three shakers were noted.
Both Patriot Sportfishing and Morro Bay Landing are now operating under the same leadership. Details were not available as Patriot Sportfishing owner Wade Gavin was unavailable for comment.
Ten-hour (6 a.m. to 4 p.m.) rockcod trips are scheduled for Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Tuesday for $82 each. Half-day (7 a.m. to noon) trips are planned for Saturday and Wednesday for $52.
A combination rockcod and crab trip is scheduled for Monday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $74. These trips will be offered a couple days a week (usually Monday and Friday) through June when the Dungeness crab season ends.
For reservations and more information, go to www.patriotsportfishing.com or call 595-7200. One salmon was caught on last week’s only trip that had 13 passengers aboard the Patriot on April 22.
Morro Bay Landing
Two boats will be operating out of the landing at 1213 Embarcadero. The Black Pearl is captained by Rick Craddick. A new boat, the San Pedro Special captained by Gordon Fox, was scheduled to arrive Wednesday.
Shallow-water (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) trips are being offered today and Sunday for $69. Friday and Saturday trips are sold out. Half-day trips cost $59. For reservations and more information, go to www.morrobaylanding.com or call 771-5500.
Port San Luis Boatyard The weather put a damper on salmon fishing last week. Only five boats were dispatched and just five salmon were caught. Those were the totals for April 21-22. No boats have been launched in the past seven days.
The final score was anonymous anglers 7, identified fishermen 6. That’s the trout count for Whale Rock’s opening weekend.
Forty-four anglers turned out, 31 of them for Saturday’s opener.
Whale Rock Supervisor Noah Evans noted some upgrades. “A new electronic gate is programmed to allow access from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and legal holidays,” he said. “A kiosk structure has been installed with table tops to facilitate filling out receipts and creel count reports. A board is in place where fishermen can pin up pictures of their catch if the person so desires.
“Three bald eagles are in residence at Whale Rock. We encourage bird watchers to enjoy our facility as well as anglers.”
On Saturday, Phil Vanzee of Morro Bay used PowerBait to catch four trout, one 18-incher, one 14-inch trout and two 16-inch trout. Josh Hanson used a worm for his 16-inch catch, while Brandon Kips enticed a 14-inch fish with PowerBait.
Anonymous anglers reeled in 18- and 16-inch fish with PowerBait while another unidentified fisherman landed a 16-incher with a nightcrawer.
An unidentified Sunday angler caught 12-, 15- and 16-inch trout one on PowerBait and two on worms. A nightcrawler worked for an 18-inch fish by another unidentified guest.
Bank fishermen are catching an abundance of catfish and spotted bass, Dave Rymal reports. Trollers are catching white bass with Kastmasters, Roostertails and white grubs.
A 3,000-pound (4,000 fish) trout plant by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was received April 22. Similar plants are scheduled in May and June. Rainbow trout are being caught in Cottonwood Cove and from the Fishing Dock. Ranger Bob Yetter says PowerBait and worms are the baits of choice.
SLO County Parks are hosting the third-annual Outdoor Discovery Festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 10. Park entry is $10 per vehicle. The Jammies and the Damon Castillo Band are featured.
“Bass action is fair on a wide variety of baits,” marina manager Ken Hemer said. “Smallies are in the west end of the lake and largemouths are in the east. Flat lining Rapalas and Kastmasters around the dam is best location. Shore anglers are doing best at E Point and to the right of the log boom with PowerBait and crawlers.”