An aptly titled business has achieved recognition and been rewarded for eight years of diligence in perfecting a product that removes a boating frustration.
Most, if not all, boat owners have experienced the anxiety caused by a simple omission, namely, forgetting to insert the drain plug prior to beginning a day on the water.
Bass Boat Solutions and its owner, Gene Gray of Atascadero, have come to the rescue.
Gray sheepishly owned up to having forgotten to insert his drain plug a time or two himself.
What began as a mission to design and perfect a manual drain plug morphed into a process that led to a remote drain plug patent.
“My good friend Tony Pratt was the person who inspired me every step of the way,” Gray said. “We were partners in 101 Bass tournaments for a couple of years.
“And I even made some prototypes in his garage in Paso Robles.”
The road to receiving a patent for his remote drain plug system began in 2007 and wasn’t achieved until eight years later.
As bass pro Zell Rowland declares in a video on both Gray’s Bass Boat Solutions and Tackle Warehouse (a San Luis Obispo business) websites “Inserting a drain plug in your boat prior to launching is one of the most basic procedures in boating.
“The Flow-Rite Remote Drain Plug makes complying with Quagga Mussel regulations easy. While seated at your boat’s console you can operate the cable system by simply turning a knob. No more crawling around on your hands and knees to install your drain plug.”
Gray noted: “The drain plug housing now utilizes a mesh design that prevents any debris from causing problems while glass-filled nylon makes the drain plug actuator tee handle super strong for trouble-free operation.”
Asked if he ever thought about giving up on the project that spanned eight years, Gray replied, “Many times.”
“My oldest daughter, Erin, kept me going as did sessions with Tony Pratt.”
Gray’s younger brother Michael, an Orange County attorney, helped him connect with Thomas D. Foster from San Diego who became his patent attorney.
“I applied for a nonprovisional patent in September 2012. Patent number 9,115,822 was issued August 25, 2015. It was on my mother Ellen’s 83rd birthday,” Gray advised.
The Flow-Rite Remote Drain Plugs became standard equipment in Ranger boats in 2015. Gray is aware that other bass boat manufacturers are considering adapting his system.
Tackle Warehouse has the drain plug products for sale in three cable lengths, 6-foot, 8-foot, and 10-foot, each priced at $89.99.
“Knowing about such things as clearances and how things work gained from more than 30 years experience as an automotive technician was critical in developing the remote drain plug systems,” Gray said.
“I’m looking for things that need improving. Right now I haven’t found anything,” he said.
Simi Valley angler Justin Prouchy became qualifier No. 23 for the December John Rowley Lingcod Tournament by having the biggest ling during the week ending Sept. 5. His catch was an 18-pound, 9-ounce ling he reeled in Sept. 4 on a 10-hour trip aboard the Princess.
Jackpot winners last week included: Jack Woodbrige, Coalinga, 18-8 ling, Chelsea White, Taft, 16-2 ling, Larry Austin, Oceano, 12-8 ling, Jim Webb, Cambria, 10-0 ling, and Brian Fien, Tulare, 8-0 ling.
On Sept. 6, captain John Rowley guided the Princess to San Simeon where 44 anglers reeled in 32 lingcod, 88 reds, 264 assorted rockfish and five whitefish.
Frank Kelly captained the Rita G to the Domes on Sept. 8 where 16 passengers landed 20 lings, 80 reds and 80 assorted rockfish.
On Sept. 11, the Princess with 24 anglers on board bagged 48 lings,144 reds and 96 assorted rockfish. Virg’s transported 364 anglers on14 trips last week. The anglers caught 3,538 fish theat included 211 lingcod.
For reservations and trip schedules go to www.virgslanding.com or call 772-1222.
Fishing aboard the Avenger, the landing’s recent fleet addition, Micah White of Paso Robles landed the week’s biggest lingcod jackpot winner, a 20 pounder. Things being normal, all jackpot winners were lingcod.
Other winners and poundage were: Frank Merino, Santa Maria, 15, Mark Tan, Riverside, 14, Ben Salas, Santa Maria, 11, Jesus Lopez, Santa Maria, Elias Tomajo, Coalinga, and Jesse Alvarez, Guadalupe, all 10s, and Joon Kwan, Los Angeles, 8.
The catch by 342 passengers included: 259 lingcod, 516 red rockcod, 2,038 assorted rockfish, 694 bolina, 55 cabezon, 39 coppers, nine bonita and two sheephead.
For trip schedules and reservations go to www.patriotsportfishing.com or call 595-7200.
Port San Luis Boatyard
A yellowtail took Whopper of the Week honors Sunday. That fete hasn’t happened anytime recently. Grover Beach’s Rosco Rickard reeled in the 24-pound, 9-ounce winner.
One hundred seventy-four boats were launched last week. Anglers aboard those private boats caught 196 lingcod, three halibut, one white seabass, 839 bonito and the one yellowtail. Full rockcod limits were recorded six days and three-quarter limits Friday.
Morro Bay Landing
Glenn Fukumoto’s report from the marina highlighted a pair of big lingcod jackpots. “Fishing aboard the Endeavor on a Sunday trip to Cape San Martin, Billy Hopkins from Bakersfield caught a 25-pound ling. Earlier in the week, Rob Poznoff from Buttonwillow was a winner with a 22-pound ling.”
All other jackpot winners caught lings. Winners with weights were: Marco Lepe, Palmdale, 15, Eric Lemioux, San Luis Obispo, 14-6, Sherman Eastton, Arroyo Grande, 14, Ray Chavez. Los Osos, 13, Mike Spendel, Atascadero, 11, and John McConnel, New York City, 8.
Caught by 199 passengers were 234 lingcod, 314 red rockcod, 1,216 assorted rockfish, 94 bonito, 116 coppers and one cabezon.
For trip schedules, reservations go to www.morrobaylanding.com or call 771-5500.
Whale Rock No-fish reports are continuing. For the first time during the 21st week of the current fishing season, no anglers showed up during the Sept. 9-113 period.
Three anglers made an appearance during the Aug. 26-30 opening and two during the Sept 2-7 week. Whale Rock has been open for 104 days. The fish count for the year is three, one documented and the other two by an anonymous angler. The reservoir is open Wednesdays through Sundays.
Alone on the water at 7 a.m. last Friday, Heritage Ranch reporter Dave Rymal had a productive morning. “Trolling deep diving Rapalas along the shallow water buoys on the main lake I caught a 2-pound spotted bass, a 2-pound crappie, a pound and a half spot and a small white bass,” he reported. “The main lake launch ramp is the only way most boaters can get on the lake.”
Lopez Lake T.J. Bright’s report from marina: “Armando Rojas from Orcutt caught a 2-pound bluegill on Sept. 5 and another angler landed a 5-pound bass on Sept. 12. Both came from Cottonwood Cove.”
Santa Margarita Lake
Marina manager Ken Hemer said: “Crappie are still going strong. Both shore fishermen and boat anglers are doing well, in fact, I’ve had reports of some 15-fish catches. A number of two-pound crappie are being taken.
“Roostertails, mini jigs and small minnow imitations are getting bit. The best locations have been White Oak and the area between the marina and Mackey Point. Bass fishing has been inconsistent. Jigs, swimbaits, Rat-L-Traps and frogs are working best. Catfish are not being targeted.”